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A getaway from the stress of grief became a nightmare for one Greater Manchester family after they, along with other Jet2 passengers, were forced to wait the better part of two days to fly home.
Though initially hesitant to go, given the circumstances, Kelly Orford had taken her two sons on a week-long getaway to Antalya in Turkey a few weeks after their father had died, hoping the time away would prove beneficial for the grieving family.
Speaking to Manchester Evening News, Ms Orford said: “When the holiday came, I didn’t want to go because I’m in absolute pieces.”
“However, the boys wanted to go and I convinced myself it would be good for me.”
Ms Orford’s mother had paid for the trip following the passing of Henry Nagai, Ms Orford’s fiancé and father of their two children.
Mr Nagai, lovingly known as Henz, was found unconscious at his job in the early hours of August 26 while working as a security guard.
Despite the best efforts of paramedics, he was pronounced dead at the scene, aged just 43 years old.
“Part of me has gone with him,” Ms Orford said at the time, “We loved each other more than anything. I’m utterly devastated. Life isn’t the same.
“I miss him so much and the last few weeks have been absolute hell. His children are broken; we are lost without this amazing man. I’d do anything to have him back.”
Mrs Orford, an IT consultant from Stretford, had flown out the family on October 14, hoping to enjoy a week in the sun.
However, things started to unravel when they were due to fly back to Manchester Airport at 11.55am on October 21.
Initially, the family were told there was hydraulic fluid leaking from the plane and new parts needed to be ordered for the problem to be fixed, meaning they would have to be put up overnight in a hotel 40 minutes away.
The following day, Ms Orford and her children returned to the airport, and boarded the aircraft, before being told that the problem still needed to be resolved and would result in a two-hour delay.
However, four hours later, without food and water, the family were still on the plane, which was yet to take off with “people collapsing” and “children being sick”.
After eventually being told to disembark, Ms Orford claims they had to wait yet another four hours before being told that their flight was cancelled and they were transferred back to the hotel again.
The flight from Antalya to Manchester Airport would eventually leave at 10.30am on October 23 – 46 hours after the family were due to fly home.
“It was traumatising,” Ms Orford said of the experience; “I’m so sad for everyone, but mainly my babies, as this was supposed to be a reliever from the worst time in their lives.”
“Since we’ve been back, if someone asks my five-year-old how his holiday was, he doesn’t talk about the fun things. He talks about the plane disaster.”
“My son has had anxiety since his daddy died – putting him back on a broken plane has traumatised him. Every time we were transferred, we had to go through arrivals and then security.”
“I currently have four stamps on my passport because of the amount of time we had to travel in and out. Most people’s suitcases have also been snapped or broken – mine is completely broken – so no care is given to our belongings either.”
“It made the worst times of our lives even worse. I’m an emotional wreck.”
“It’s turned my plane-loving boy into a nervous wreck; I now have a battle on my hands trying to convince him to get on a plane so he can see his dad’s resting place and family in Uganda in January. We were treated like caged animals.”
In response, Jet2.com told MEN in a statement: “We would like to offer our sincere apologies to Ms Orford and her family, as well as all the other customers affected by the unforeseen delay, which was caused after the flight deck crew correctly followed standard procedure after noticing a minor fault indication.”
“Although we understand the enormous inconvenience that this causes, we will never compromise on putting everyone’s comfort, safety and well-being first. We provided customers with hotel accommodation on both nights, and our teams worked tirelessly to look after everyone.”
“We can confirm that a replacement aircraft flew out to Antalya on Sunday (October 23) and customers were flown home that same evening.”
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