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Hundreds of passengers have slammed TUI for allegedly treating them like "caged animals" and "prisoners" after they were trapped on a plane for six hours before take off.
Furious travellers claim they were told "lie after lie" as they were shifted around the departure lounge, reportedly given false leaving times and then made to sit on a plane without necessities during a nine-hour delay at Manchester Airport.
Passengers said they ran low on milk for their babies, nearly suffered panic attacks and were "physically sick" due to the traumatic wait on September 28.
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They were meant to set off at 6.55am but a string of delays followed as passengers were told to ignore boarding calls, before being made to rush onto an aircraft for an emergency slot to Larnaca, Cyprus.
But the "catastrophe" didn't see them depart until around 4pm that day.
Melissa, who belonged to a party of 12, claimed TUI failed to announce that their friend had a nut allergy.
She said: "Absolutely ridiculous, we lost an afternoon at our villa we booked for our friends 30th and table bookings.
"Also to add to it, one of our party has a nut allergy and they didn’t announce it till hours into being sat on the plane when someone opened some nuts and we had to ask them not to open them!"
Nicholas Labocha said his family had to rely on the "kindness" of others including a passenger named Mandy, to give spare water to his kids Theo and Elsie.
The dad, from Telford, Shropshire, said: "We were becoming increasingly concerned that we hadn’t packed enough formula for the baby milk and the kids were becoming more and more agitated. There was also no service and we were getting very dehydrated.
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"We were sat in the middle of the aircraft and by the time they reached us they had ran out of food. Not acceptable when we had our two-year-old daughter with us. We were also at the bottom of the available baby formula."
The dad claimed that the passengers were placed on an aircraft which didn't belong to TUI, with holidaymakers saying they flew on a plane belonging to Latvian firm SmartLynx Airlines.
TUI said the visibility level at Manchester Airport at the original departure time did not meet the legal requirements for take-off. However, passengers disputed the claims and said the weather was perfect.
"The whole back and forth and refusal to pay compensation due to poor visibility is sickening," Nicholas added.
Mandy Paul branded the scenes "ridiculous" and compared the back and forth to a "game of chess."
She said: "When we finally got our food, only the first 10 rows got what they wanted. Everyone else had to share boxes between them – we had one chip each.
"I had to wash my hands with a bottle of water when I went to the toilet. We would have been better off going back to the departure lounge. It was horrific."
Mrs H, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, said the flight delay had a major impact on her disability.
"As a disabled passenger, our delay was not only frustrating, but incredibly painful for me," she said.
"I get a lot of nerve pain throughout my body, especially my legs due to the degenerative damage my disability causes.
"This would have normally been uncomfortable but manageable for a normal flight period but being stuck on the aircraft for six hours before we even left Manchester made the whole experience horrendous."
Kayleigh Mountford and her boyfriend Taylor-James Clews said they had to deal with "uncomfortable cabin temperatures for at least eight hours."
The nurse said: "This was my first holiday since working throughout the pandemic as a nurse, wanting this time to relax and decompress the last few years.
"However, I never expected to be sat in a confined space for six hours before taking off, which clearly increases the likelihood of this (anxiety).
"Then to be told we’re unable to purchase any food for the duration of the flight and limited to only one 250ml drink. This disgusted me even further.
"I have put two claims in for them to both be rejected due to 'weather' when it was a perfectly clear route according to met check (and) aviation forecasts."
Kayleigh Hey said she had to use breathing techniques as a coping mechanism.
"On that flight I very nearly suffered a panic attack, I had to use breathing techniques, and I also had a few meltdowns due to the unknown, and dehydration," she said.
"We had been told lie after lie. One minute we had to ground staff, then we needed refuelling so missed our slot on the runway, and then we had to change staff.
"Absolutely disgusting. We were treated like animals in a cage. Ruined the first day of our holiday which was our friend's hen and stag do. A day we will never get back."
In an issued statement, TUI told the Daily Star: "We’re really sorry to customers for their experience on flight TOM2366 from Manchester on 28th September.
"Unfortunately, due to low visibility at Manchester Airport, the flight couldn’t take off as planned which led to knock-on operational delays.
"We provided customers complimentary food and drink onboard the aircraft and we’ve sent them a letter to use for travel insurance claims.
"We acknowledge that our communication to customers fell short of our usual high service standards and we apologise again for the inconvenience."
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