Cancelled flights: People from across the Preston area remain caught up in Bank Holiday flight chaos

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Hundreds of flights to and from the UK were cancelled across Bank Holiday Monday, leaving many from Preston and its surrounding areas “stuck” or with cancelled plans altogether.

The delays and cancellations were due to a technical issue with air traffic control, and this week, the Post asked its readers if anyone had been caught up in the disruption, and numerous people commented with their stories.

This included one Lancashire Post reader called Lois Robertson, 65, who had booked a TUI package holiday to Paphos with her husband Ben, 70, from Monday, August 28 to Tuesday, September, 5.

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Whilst in Manchester Aiport, awaiting their departure flight, they first saw a 12 hour delay but were later informed it was cancelled and all passengers should collect their bags and return home, with the promise they may be able to go the following day.

Adele Brindle, her partner James Wright and their two sons will be in Tenerife for nearly two weeks longer than they were due to.Adele Brindle, her partner James Wright and their two sons will be in Tenerife for nearly two weeks longer than they were due to.
Adele Brindle, her partner James Wright and their two sons will be in Tenerife for nearly two weeks longer than they were due to.

Lois said: “The problem that we had is we had to go that day or the day after because my husband’s having treatment for Oesophageal cancer so we had to be back on September 6 for his blood tests, ready for chemotherpay on the 8th.

“I just felt sorry for the kids that were there, crying because they couldn’t go on holiday. We’re a retired couple so although it was important for us to get a holiday before Ben’s treatment, I felt it wasn’t as important to us as it would be to kids."

That night the couple booked into a hotel near Manchester Airport, hoping to travel the following day – forking out £83 for the room, on top of a taxi and meal – but when that flight was also cancelled, they had to give up on their holiday hopes for the time being.

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Speaking on the 30th, Lois told the Post: “I received a message from TUI saying that the flight wouldn’t be going on the 29th either and that somebody would contact us by 8 o’clock in the evening to tell us what was happening and I am still waiting for that phonecall.

Lois and Ben Robertson had to cancel their holiday altogether due to the disruption, but thankfully have been able to rearrange.Lois and Ben Robertson had to cancel their holiday altogether due to the disruption, but thankfully have been able to rearrange.
Lois and Ben Robertson had to cancel their holiday altogether due to the disruption, but thankfully have been able to rearrange.

“I have now spoken to TUI – after eight failed phone calls – to transfer the holiday but I got that worked up I forgot to ask about compensation.

"We were never given information about how to get reimbursed. It’s inconvenient, I know at some point we will be reimbursed, and like I say, we’re lucky we can book another holiday if we want to, but that’s not the point, there are families that can’t. It was a hassle transferring the holiday, and we’re now going two days after Ben’s treatment so we’re just hoping that he’s well enough to go.”

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Meanwhile, 28-year-old Adele Brindle from Cottam has been left stuck for an extra two weeks in Tenerife with her partner James, 29, and their two children aged four and eight, after what was their first family holiday ever

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Originally due to be away between August 18-25, just before they left for Tenerife airport, easyJet emailed to say their flight had been delayed due to extraordinary circumstances.

Still advised to go to the airport, they waited around until finally being told it was cancelled and there next flight would be on Monday, although they would have to make their own way to the newly arranged accommodation.

Adele said: “The taxi cost 150 euros to the new hotel and we were told we were full board by easyJet but when we got there we were told it did not start until the second day, so we had no water and no food all day. They provided an evening meal but it was very basic, rice and boiled fish which the kids – who were starving as they had only snacked all day – would not entertain so we had to take them to McDonalds instead.

“The water cut off whilst we were there so we couldn’t wash which was horrendous, and when it did come on it was sludgy and brown... But on the bright side, at least we had a bed to sleep in.”

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On the way to the airport on Monday, flight checker showed their flight had been delayed by eight hours, despite “having no communication whatsoever” about it from easyJet.

Upon their arrival, they were told it was cancelled and when Adele phoned easyJet, she was told the next flight would be September 7 and meal vouchers would be available at the airport until new temporary accommodation could be sorted.

Adele said: “There were no easyJet staff at the airport, and the queue was endless. When one easyJet worker arrived to aanounce all the flights were cancelled, I asked about meal vouchers but he said he wasn’t giving them out and you have to go on ‘Manage my booking’ but I told him our booking was no longer on the app and he sort of walked off.

“We were left in the airport with no information on flights, no information on accommodation so it got to about 8:30pm and my youngest was exhausted because we’d been sat the airport all day so we had to find the absolute cheapest hotel ever.”

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By Tuesday lunch, Adele said they had not heard anything from easyJet about accommodation or flights so they borrowed money from family to book a hotel until the 7th and to later book Jet2 flights for September 6.

When Adele informed easyJet that they had sorted themselves out, an hour later, the airline finally provided arrangements which now had to be given to someone else.

The mum of two added: “If I hadn’t had rung them, I have no doubt in my mind that they would have taken another 12 hours, maybe 24, to actually allocate us something, but because I rang them to say don’t bother, they sorted it, it was almost like we’d been forgotten about until I rang.”

Due to the extra two weeks abroad, the couple – who are both architectural technologists – have had to take two weeks unpaid leave, pay an extra £160 for car parking and £180 for pet sitting, whilst their youngest child will miss his first day of primary school.

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Although easyJet will reimbruse the family’s accomodation and flight expenses, they do not cover loss of earnings, nor are they entitled to any compensation because air traffic issues are out of the airline’s hands.

Adele, whose travel insurance meanwhile would only cover delays, commented: “It leaves us penniless when we get home and we have a mortgage to pay, all the bills.

“We’ve been bled dry for what was meant to be a nice holiday it was our first family holiday and apparently it will be our last- we’re exhausted.

“I understand air traffic problems are beyond easyJet’s control but the way they’ve responded to it is appalling.”

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An easyJet holidays spokesperson said: “We’re really sorry to hear that Ms Brindle and her party’s flight home was cancelled as a result of Air Traffic Control restrictions on 25 August, and their new flight home was then cancelled due to the Air Traffic Control systems failure on Monday, which has been causing significant disruption to flying programmes for all airlines across the UK.

“We have been providing updates directly Ms Brindle via email, confirming the details of their new flight home, as well as the overnight accommodation we have arranged for them. We’ve reassured our customers that we’re working round the clock to support them while, continuously looking for the most suitable alternative flights home to book them onto, so we’ll be in touch if we’re able to get these customers home earlier.

“Once again, whilst Air Traffic Control issues are entirely out of our control, we understand the situation is frustrating, and we’re really sorry that Ms Brindle’s holiday has been impacted.”