Mum fumes after TUI refuses refund on diverted flight that delayed holiday

An angry mother has vowed never to holiday with one airline again after what she described as a “catalogue of errors” hampered her family getaway. Stacey Young, 37, had splashed out on a £2,000 all-inclusive break to Gran Canaria with her family.

Travelling from Newcastle with her partner Steven and two young children, the family didn’t reach their destination until 16 hours after they were supposed to arrive. Their TUI flight was diverted back home two hours into the flight after a pilot fell ill.

Ms Young and her family eventually arrived at the resort for their holiday but were subject to a severe delay on May 4 after what she described as a “catalogue of errors” at the hands of the travel agent.

Passengers were told mid-flight, believed to be “somewhere over France”, that they had to be returned to Newcastle due to the pilot’s illness. On reaching the airport, they were told they would not be leaving until the following day.

TUI were said to have offered accommodation in hotels to those who required it. However, Ms Young claimed the Hilton DoubleTree was unable to cope with the number of passengers and that they could not then use a £20 food voucher. As a result her family had to go to bed hungry.

The airline had sent an email at 12.30am informing them of their new flight time of 7.30am on May 5. Ms Young and her family arrived at the airport on time, but she claimed this was too short notice for other holidaymakers who struggled to get to the departure lounge, forcing those already there to wait to board the plane.

She told ChronicleLive: “If the pilot was that ill, why did we travel a further two hours back to Newcastle when it was a four-hour flight to Gran Canaria? We could have flown the entire way and landed, had our holiday and everything would have been fine, and if the pilot had needed to go to hospital in Gran Canaria, he could have done that.

“Instead, they turned the plane around, bypassed every single hospital on the way to Newcastle, then proceeded to circle around for another half an hour burning off fuel before landing and letting all the passengers and their luggage off. At this point, nobody knew what was going on, nobody was talking to us — I just don’t understand why we endured a four-and-a-half hour flight to be no further forward, and if the pilot was that bad, why didn’t we land at the nearest airport so he could get to hospital?”

She claimed that TUI refused to pay compensation to those booked on the flight, citing European Regulation EC261/2004, which states airlines should pay compensation when delayed more than three hours on arrival, but only if the delay was not caused by “extraordinary circumstances” — which it appeared TUI considered the illness to be.

However, Ms Young felt the company should accept responsibility for the flight being returned. She said: “It was classed as exceptional circumstances but we were delayed for almost 17 hours and missed a day of our holiday. How is that okay?

“I’ve always holidayed with TUI but now I’m absolutely fuming with them. If they’d just say yes, we understand that you’ve missed your holiday, it would have been okay.

“Holidays are expensive, families spend an entire year paying for them, and they’re just saying nah, you get nothing. We just wanted to get on with our holiday and enjoy it as much as we could but we felt like it had been cut short.

“We felt a little bit rushed because we felt pressured to go on an excursion as we arrived, rather than have time to settle in. Although we enjoyed our holiday — of course we did — it just took the shine off it.”

TUI has been approached for comment but at the time of publication had not provided a response.

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