Two children were left devasted after their first holiday since the Covid pandemic was cancelled by TUI as they waited to board their flight.Anna Saunders, 41, had booked a week’s getaway in Cyprus with her husband Matthew, 44, and two kids from Stansted Airport on Saturday.
But holiday firm TUI sent a crushing text message after delaying the flight saying the family’s entire trip – costing £5,200 – was cancelled for “operational reasons”. Anna said her kids Eva and Jack, aged 13 and 10, were “heartbroken” as they lost out on what would have been the family’s first holiday since the Covid pandemic.
Instead, they are staying in a friend’s caravan in Cromer, Norfolk this half-term. Anna, a property worker, said: “My kids were heartbroken.
“Explaining to a child that they’re not going on holiday after going through the airport is pretty tough. I would be wary to book with TUI again.
“It wasn’t what we expected. They must have known they couldn’t do the holiday. To not tell us the flight was cancelled until we got to the airport is just disgusting.”
In a text message, TUI offered Anna’s family a full refund, compensation worth £350 per person and a holiday voucher worth £200 per person. Anna, from Bedfordshire, said the family had travelled on several holidays with TUI with no major problems.
But she said that TUI’s handling of her flight on Saturday had damaged her trust in the travel firm. Anna said: “We booked a week of hard-earned leave but you can’t compensate for that. You can’t compensate for heartbroken children.
“We haven’t heard anything from TUI and there’s been no refund yet.”
The family’s all-inclusive holiday to Paphos, Cyprus had initially been planned for October 2021 when it had to be postponed due to Eva catching Covid in the run-up. Anna said she was aware of queuing delays at Stansted Airport and the family arrived almost four hours before their departure on Saturday.
Travel chaos has struck Britain’s major airports over the past few days, with some holidaymakers missing flights due to long waiting times. Anna said: “We turned up at Stansted at 12.30pm, our flight was 4.10pm and there was no indication of any problems.
“We had received text messages from TUI in the run-up saying ‘looking forward to seeing you’. At the check-in desk there was a bit of chaos. There were a few flights checking in but not enough staff.
“We were there for a good two hours. The queue was moving very slowly. After that we went through security and had to run to the gate.
“There was no indication of a problem with the flight. People were queuing to board. As we were waiting we got a text saying it was delayed for an hour. We asked the staff and they didn’t have a clue, which was a bit strange.
“Then two hours later they made an announcement that the flight was completely cancelled. Everyone was devasted but we thought we might get a flight the next day.
“We went to get our luggage and then went back to the gate again. We spent another hour and a half waiting in the queue.
“Then we got a text saying the entire holiday was cancelled. The other passengers were calm but we were all shocked.”