A family boarded three different planes as they looked forward to a holiday in Crete. But after being caught up in the airport chaos that has swept the country, the fortnight’s break has now been called off.
Ian McStein, 43, from Runcorn, and his family looked forward to their two weeks in the sun, leaving on May 29, but ended up enduring chaos at Manchester Airport. Ian, a father of four, said they had also endured horrendous expectations, reports LiverpoolECHO.
The prank finally ended when the McSteins canceled their holiday after operator TUI said they could not fly because the plane was full. But Ian said he was shown pictures via a WhatsApp group of passengers which showed there was room.
Having given up on the holiday, Ian requested reimbursement via his bank for the service paid for non-delivery. But he said he was initially told he couldn’t get any despite the app running in the background.
Meanwhile, On The Beach, with whom he booked the trip, said he would have to wait “another month, maybe eight weeks”. The problems faced by the family – and many other travelers – have been attributed to chronic staff shortages at various points in the system that gets the planes going, from ground staff to flight crew.
Ian, who spoke out after reading articles featuring other passengers on his flight, told ECHO: “We arrived four hours earlier, we had heard about the queues. The first plane we couldn’t fly on, I don’t know why.
“The second plane we couldn’t fly in, it didn’t have bottled water. And then after that, we sat on the track for three and a half hours.
“The pilot didn’t have enough airtime, enough flying hours. It was 2 or 3 in the morning. We’re waiting to go through security, it took two hours.
“In the end the police had to come, not to calm us down, no one was kicking off, it was broken up (for us) by the police – there was no TUI representative except the police – they told us our flight time was the next day at 12:45.
“We arrived at 9 a.m. TUI passengers had a special gate to check in.
“We were all pretty happy to be fair that we had a special gate, we all got through check-in and security pretty quickly, got down to the gate.
“Most of the passengers got off at the gate, we were all wearing makeup. We were flying on a TUI Dreamliner.
“It was 45 minutes before boarding, 16 passengers received a text message saying ‘we are very sorry for the disruption to your journey, the plane is smaller than originally planned which has required us to remove some of our customers from today’s flight. . We are sorry to confirm that you are one of them”.
With no representatives available, Ian asked to speak to a manager who insisted the plane was too small but “turned red in the face” when Ian said how many spare seats the flight had.
Ian said: “He got red in the face and said ‘there’s been a mess here’. We were canceled because ‘there wasn’t enough room’ on this plane. There were 30 seats (empty).
ECHO has contacted TUI about the debacle. A company spokesperson said: ‘We would like to apologize to Mr McStein and his family. The aircraft originally scheduled for flight TOM2744 from Manchester to Heraklion on Sunday May 29 was changed at the last minute due to operational issues, impacting a small number of customers.
“We contacted everyone as soon as we learned of the change, offering the option of canceling their holiday for a full refund. We understand how frustrating and disappointing this will have been and are truly sorry for any inconvenience.
A spokesperson for On The Beach said: “We are sorry to hear of Mr McStein’s experience following the late cancellation of his TUI flight. We spoke to Mr McStein and offered him a full refund in accordance with EU regulations.”