Travel chaos as holidaymakers sent to London - then back to Norwich

Passengers hoping to fly from Norwich to Rhodes were badly delayed 

Passengers hoping to fly from Norwich to Rhodes were badly delayed - Credit: Mark Overton

Exhausted passengers hoping to board a flight from Norwich to Rhodes ended up being taken to LONDON for a flight ... and then were brought back again. 

A TUI flight from Norwich to Rhodes was originally due to depart at 1.20pm on Wednesday. 

The flight had been delayed from 1.20pm to 8.30pm then to 9.30pm and then to 10.15pm before being cancelled altogether. 

Passengers were then told the flight would be departing from London Gatwick the following day so taxis were put on to cart the furious holidaymakers to the capital.

A coach taking TUI passengers back to Norwich from Stanstead Hotels on Thursday morning 

A coach taking TUI passengers back to Norwich from Stanstead Hotels on - Credit: Mark Overton

Mark Overton, 55, was among those who travelled to Gatwick with his 42-year-old wife Frances, and two children Brooke and Jake, aged 21 and 14. 

Mr Overton - who runs The Little Seafood Truck - had booked a family break after a busy season at work but admits it has become the "holiday from hell".

Speaking on Thursday morning, Mr Overton said: "We are still hoping to go out there but as you can imagine, people are very upset and tired after a delay of more than 24 hours. 

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"There were some seriously distressing scenes at the airport on Wednesday night, particularly people going out for a honeymoon.

"The thing that shocked me is the lack of information coming from people at the airport and the lack of TUI reps.

"It was shocking seeing kids sitting on the floor in the airport for hours."

A board informing customers the delayed flight from Norwich to Rhodes had been cancelled on Wednesday night 

A board informing customers the delayed flight from Norwich to Rhodes had been cancelled on Wednesday night - Credit: Mark Overton

Mr Overton - who lives in Marsham - said people were left without refreshments as they waited at Norwich Airport. 

It is understood there was no pilot to fly the plane to Rhodes as problems with staff shortages at TUI continues to cause travel chaos.

Susie Anderson, 44, of Wymondham was also delayed with her 13-year-old daughter and travelled to Stanstead Hotels for no reason.

Susie Anderson was among those disrupted by the TUI delays 

Susie Anderson was among those disrupted by the TUI delays - Credit: Contributed

She said: "Had we known we would have gone home rather than spending two-and-a-half-hours on the A11 moving slowly because of roadworks to go to Stanstead.

"There were a lot of emotions at the airport. Anger, frustration, wanting to go home and a feeling of 'lets hang in there."

Passengers finally beginning to board the TUI flight shortly after 3pm on Thursday 

Passengers finally beginning to board the TUI flight shortly after 3pm on Thursday - Credit: Susie Anderson

Ms Anderson was worried for one heavily pregnant woman on the flight who was eventually given a wheelchair after being on the verge of passing out inside the airport.

Passengers who had bought items from Duty Free were also forced to return them due to the delays.

Ms Anderson added: "We were waiting with no water or food stuck in the airport for hours after paying the £10 departure fee. It was really quite inhumane.

"They just kept delaying and delaying."

TUI passengers delayed at Norwich Airport on the way to Rhodes 

TUI passengers delayed at Norwich Airport on the way to Rhodes - Credit: Susie Anderson

The single mum had been awake all night waiting for updates from TUI about when the flight from Gatwick would be departing.

She then received a text message at 9.32am on Thursday telling her to head down to the hotel lobby for 9.30am to get on a coach back to Norwich.

A flight from Menorca to Norwich was also delayed just before the Rhodes flight.

This flight was due to depart Menorca at 6am but did not set off until 1pm on Wednesday which caused the initial hold-up to the Rhodes flight.

Passengers finally boarding the TUI flight around 3.30pm 

Passengers finally boarding the TUI flight around 3.30pm - Credit: Susie Anderson

The flight to Rhodes finally departed at 3.40pm on Thursday after a final 30 minute delay.

It comes after TUI passengers flying from Dalaman to Norwich had to wait at Birmingham for more than four hours earlier this month.

TUI passengers were stranded at Birmingham airport for hours with no food or drink 

TUI passengers were stranded at Birmingham airport for hours with no food or drink - Credit: Contributed

TUI has apologised and offered to refund holidaymakers the cost of one night of their holiday.