A dream holiday to Greece ended in travel chaos for a Dundalk couple who went to the airport in Zakynthos three days in a row before their flight back home eventually took off.
It was just an absolute nightmare,” said Tamara Flood who travelled to Zakinthos with boyfriend Patrick.
Having already endured long delays at Dublin airport before their outbound flight, she told The Argus they had been “really relieved” their TUI flight went out despite a four hour delay.
“We had a really good holiday, the weather was lovely, and we thought it made up for all the hassle at the airport on the way out.”
But, it wasn’t until the day they were due to fly back home that the couple’s travel horror began.
“We met a couple from Donegal out there, and they were due to go back on the same flight to Dublin as us. But as were packing for the airport they told us they got an email from TUI saying the flight had been cancelled. I checked my emails and there was nothing from TUI, no text and no email. It seemed like half of the passengers were hearing from them, and the other half weren’t.”
The advice, she adds, was to get on the transfer bus and head to the airport, which they duly did.
“When we got there they took us up to the check in desk, as if we were checking in our bags. We literally had been told nothing at this point. Then at the desk we were told there were five hotels available, so they put us back on a bus again. We asked the driver, and he couldn’t even tell is where we were going.”
She adds: “We did our best to keep calm, as we had been told it was a 24 hour delay, and we would be picked up again at 5pm the next day for an evening flight home.”
The following day the transfer bus arrived and took them back to the airport for an 8.45pm flight.
“We got to the airport, checked in and had fingers crossed it was going, when suddenly there was an announcement it was delayed flour hours, which would have meant taking off about 1a.m. They told us there were vouchers for food at the check -in, but we had already checked in and couldn’t go back to get the vouchers,”
At 9pm they learned the flight was cancelled again, and they were told to take back any Duty Free items back to the shop.
“We thought they were joking, after all we had been through. People were just flat out refusing to leave stuff back. They took us back out through arrivals and passport control again, and we waited an hour and a half for our bags to come back out on the carousel.”
“Then we had another queue at the TUI desk to get a hotel for a second night. It was terrible, there were old people there who were so distressed about what was happening and people with young kids.”
The former travel agent said she “had never heard anything as bad as this”.
“We were at the same airport four times in two days, it was just awful. People might say sure you got an extra two days to your holiday, but it’s not like that at all. You just went to get home.”
On day three of their battle to get a flight home, they arrived at the same airport only to be told the flight was delayed again.
“But we eventually got on the plane at 2.15pm, and I was praying it would take off. The pilot came on and said how sorry they were about the last few days, saying that he just wanted to do his job and get us home.”
After landing at Dublin airport, she adds “the whole flight erupted into cheers and applause, everyone was so relieved”
“I know one thing, we won’t be heading abroad again anytime soon!”
TUI have apologised to customers for the delays, saying that “operational issues” had led to the cancellations.