Anarchy at the airports: Families stranded for 5 hours and one plane 'runs out of fuel'

29 May 2022, 23:30 | Updated: 30 May 2022, 17:41

Customers face delays and cancellations at Bristol, Manchester and London airports.
Customers face delays and cancellations at Bristol, Manchester and London airports. Picture: Twitter/Alamy

By Megan Hinton

Chaotic scenes at airports across the UK have been slammed a "shambles" by half-term holidaymakers after many faced last minute cancellations and queues snaked into carparks.

Popular holiday company TUI told "hundreds" of customers over text that their highly anticipated holidays had been cancelled whilst unlucky passengers at Bristol airport reportedly faced five-hour delays.

Airlines have blamed supply chain issues while easyJet apologised for previously cancelling a raft of Gatwick flights. They appear to be buckling as 300,000 people get set to fly over half-term and the Platinum Jubilee weekend, the busiest week for air travel since 2019.

Amid chaotic scenes at airports, one flight from Santorini to Gatwick had to divert to Luton after crew said they didn’t have enough fuel to carry out the planned journey.

The easyJet flight had been given a later-than-expected slot to land.

But after arriving in Luton they were told there were not enough baggage handlers to bring out their luggage on time, and should instead head to Gatwick under their own steam.

They were told their bags would be taken there and they could reclaim the money, but they have yet to be given their belongings.

Passenger Laurie Nathaniel told MailOnline: “We got home today in the early hours of the morning. Our luggage still hasn't arrived after they said it would be sent here.”

“My glasses and contact lenses were in too so I can’t see anything – so I have had to miss work today. It’s a shambles,” Laurie continued.

“The air hostesses on the flight were complaining openly about the long hours they have worked and one air hostess openly told passengers she’s handed in her notice.”

Queues formed outside Bristol Airport from 4am, passengers at Stansted were seen camping on the floor to get some rest as they waited, and Gatwick saw long queues as jet-setters waited just to board their planes.

Holidaymakers waiting for flights at Manchester airport said their 5.30pm Sunday departures had been pushed back to Monday, leaving families with children left to sleep on the airport floor.

Some upset passengers said they were grounded at the airport for four-hours before a pilot eventually came and took their place at the front of the plane.

British Airways told customers over the weekend drop bags off a whole day early if they stood any chance of jetting off on their holidays.

Read more: Brits face holiday chaos as 'just 50% of passports will be renewed in time for summer'

Lisa Trenchard said her daughter Seren Rounds, a primary school teacher, and her fiance, electrician Adam Howells, are on the verge of postponing their wedding after their flight to Cyprus was scrapped.

Ms Rounds, 27, and Mr Howells, 29, of Caerleon, South Wales, have been planning their big day since 2020, but might be forced to postpone it after Tui cancelled their flight to Paphos.

Ms Trenchard said 34 guests were due to fly from Bristol on Saturday, with 11 guests already in Cyprus, but their 1.30pm outbound flight was first delayed and then cancelled.

She said the wedding is booked for Thursday June 2 but they have an appointment at a town hall on Monday.

She said there is now "no way" they can find flights for all 34 guests, so the wedding is "ruined".

Ms Trenchard, 55, a health visiting manager from Caerleon, said: "We have families with babies and a devastated bride and groom to be."

She added: "Absolutely I blame Tui, not necessarily for the initial problem, but their lack of visibility and compassion, and how they have taken the easy option to cancel."

Mother-of-one Sunita Ramjee, 50, of Swansea, Wales, said she spent £6,000 on tickets to take her daughter, 19, and brother to the Grand Prix in Monaco for his 40th birthday present.

They were meant to be flying from London Gatwick to Nice on Friday, but the flight was delayed and then cancelled while they were at the airport.

She says there were no alternative flights available because of the Grand Prix and the Champions League final in Paris on Saturday.

Ms Ramjee said: "We had tickets to the Grand Prix and now easyJet has cancelled my flight and I'm not going to get a refund (for the Formula One tickets).

"I'm really disappointed in the way it was handled. Nobody helped us to try and figure out alternative flights or make hotel bookings.

"It is something my daughter has been looking forward to since we moved to the UK, it was my brother's 40th birthday present."

One person said her sister flew from Bristol Airport yesterday and said it was a “shambles,” with “nothing on the shelves in shops,” and claimed Starbucks had run out of hot water to serve drinks. She said her sister eventually got airborne four hours late.

Another person flying out of Manchester Airport said she faced a four and a half hour delay and there was "absolutely no food in the airport."

"All restaurants closed, 2 hour queue to get into the bar. Send prayers that we don't starve," she wrote online.

Customers face delays and cancellations
Customers face delays and cancellations. Picture: Alamy

Michele Farmer, 56, tweeted: "Our easyJet flight to Naples at 17.30, yes, in less than an hour's time has been cancelled.

"We've been sent through baggage collection with luggage thrown on the floor now standing outside Bristol Airport.

"No help. Poor on every level."

She was meant to be taking her daughter Madeleine for a half-term holiday they booked for the same week in 2020.

In a statement today, Manchester Airport apologised for the disruption, and said that delays at check-in and baggage reclaim are the responsibility of airlines and ground handling firms, which run their own services.

Adding that staff are "in contact with the senior management teams of the relevant airlines and ground handlers to understand the cause of these issues".

A spokesperson for TUI said: "We’d like to apologise to customers impacted by cancellations and delays this weekend, caused by various operational and supply chain issues.

"We’d like to reassure customers that we are doing everything we can to minimise delays and would like to thank them their patience and understanding during this time."

An easyJet spokesman said: "We have taken the decision to make advance cancellations of around 24 Gatwick flights per day starting from May 28 until June 6.

"We are very sorry for the late notice of some of these cancellations and inconvenience caused for customers booked on these flights, however we believe this is necessary to provide reliable services over this busy period."