TUI passengers 'face nightmare' after being stranded at airport for hours
- Credit: Contributed
Babies were lying on the floor and young families went without food and drink for hours as the end of a holiday turned into a living nightmare.
Passengers flying on a TUI flight from Dalaman in Turkey to Norwich were diverted to Birmingham where they then had to wait in the airport upon landing for around four-and-a-half hours.
The flight had been due to land in Norwich at 10.55pm local time on Friday night but customers found themselves returning home by taxi from Birmingham on Saturday morning.
Their flight landed at 3.15am in Birmingham with passengers arriving home at Saturday lunchtime having not slept for 24 hours.
TUI has said it is investigating delays with baggage reclaim and transfers at Birmingham.
The airline has said it arranged transport for all customers to return to Norwich and will explain to all of them how they can claim compensation.
Among those disrupted on the flight was Norwich 25-year-old Kirstie Clarke who had been on holiday with her two friends Hannah Unsworth, 30, and Clayton Freeman, 29.
She said: "It has been absolutely horrendous. The treatment from TUI has been just disgusting.
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"We did not find out we were going to Birmingham until we were all sat on the plane. Nothing was mentioned to anyone before that."
Miss Clarke said the passengers were left waiting in the baggage reclaim area of Birmingham's airport with no TUI staff present to inform them what was happening.
At one point police turned up and the 25-year-old said some exhausted passengers became aggressive to one another as tensions boiled over.
Miss Clarke added: "It is not even the actual delay which is frustrating but the fact there was no communication and they just left us on the floor for hours.
"It's completely ruined the holiday for us. We were supposed to be going with TUI again in September to Tenerife but I am not going through that again so I will cancel it.
"I do not want to fly with a company that completely disregards you."
Passengers questioned why the flight was not diverted to London instead of Birmingham due to its easier accessibility to Norwich.
They were led to believe they were flown to Birmingham as there were supposedly greater staffing levels there.
The passengers had also been delayed by three hours flying out to Turkey.
However Miss Clarke said the communication from the airline had been much better then.
Sharon Bygrave, 48, of Old Catton, who travelled to Turkey with her 72-year-old mum, Rosemary Key, said TUI had initially told her to pay for the taxi from Birmingham to speed up the process.
She refused to do this and later found TUI footed the £250 bill.
Ms Bygrave added: "TUI has sent an email saying they will send a £100 voucher in the next 28 days which I do not think I will want to use after this.
"I understand these things happen because a Corfu flight was delayed by a storm but the lack of communication was ridiculous.
"We were told the problem was with unloading the luggage but one airport worker told us it was a staffing issue."
Staff shortages have been blamed for major airlines after thousands of jobs were cut during the pandemic.
A spokeswoman for TUI said: "We’re really sorry to customers travelling on TOM713 from Dalaman to Norwich Airport, which was initially delayed due to an earlier flight delay because of bad weather.
"We then had to divert the aircraft to Birmingham Airport due to the curfew at Norwich Airport.
"Delays with baggage reclaim and transfers at Birmingham meant customers were unfortunately waiting at the airport much longer than they should have.
"We're investigating how this happened to prevent it from happening again.
"We've arranged transport for all customers who are now on their way back to Norwich and we've been in contact with them to apologise, explain how to claim compensation and provide a gesture of goodwill.
"We realise this isn't the level of service our customers usually receive and for that, we are sorry."