If you thought my story on the Queen’s 15-minute delay into London was a yawn, how about sitting hostage onboard an aircraft for three hours after the ground staff just went home? We pivot now to Manchester, as flights and delays compound across the United Kingdom.
Pilot Calls Police For Help After Ground Staff Abandon TUI Aircraft Full Of Passengers
Holidaymakers set to travel from Manchester (MAN) to Tenerife (TNF) last night faced a two-hour boarding delay on their TUI flight, due to poor weather and a staffing shortage. Eventually, the flight boarded just after 7:00PM and prepared to depart shortly thereafter.
But there was insufficient ground staff to load luggage and baggage handling took so long, the flight was cancelled. According to reports, however, ground staff simply went home…leaving the passengers and flight crew just sitting on the aircraft as it parked on the tarmac.
Passenger Adam Wyczalkowski explained:
“We were then told all the staff had then disappeared, and the captain told us all that due to crew hour regulations, the flight might get cancelled in the end. Eventually they made another announcement that there had been no communication about us getting off the plane because there were no staff available to let us off. There are so many kids on here and families excited to go away for half term.
“People are just getting so frustrated and angry. It is so hot and there is no air con and we were only offered a complimentary drink. There was not a single member of staff in sight, so the captain informed us they will be calling the police in order to let us disembark.”
With the plane heating up and passengers (rightfully) becoming agitated, the captain radioed police, pleading for help. With the assistance of police, the aircraft was finally de-boarded at 10:00PM.
TUI released the following statement on the flight:
“We’d like to apologise to customers travelling on flight TOM2106 from Manchester to Tenerife on Monday 30 May which was unfortunately delayed due to operational issues.
We were in contact with affected customers, offered overnight accommodation and meals where needed, and advised them of their new departure time as soon as we could. This flight is now due to depart this evening.
The May half-term holidays are always an incredibly busy period with many customers looking to get away, and this year is no different.
We’d like to apologise again for the inconvenience caused and we thank customers for their understanding and patience during this time.”
Swissport ground staff have also apologized for leaving the passengers stranded onboard, blaming staffing shortages.
Stories of delays and cancellations are all too common across the United Kingdom this week, as holiday travel has overturned the system. Although airlines and ground handling companies have sought to hire thousands of new workers, a dire staffing shortages remains. Now the UK Government and airline executives are blaming one another for a ripple effect that has destroyed the travel plans for thousands across the Kingdom this week.
If you are traveling in the UK this week, do check your flight status before heading to the airport, arrive early, and also research alternate options to get to your destination. If you cannot afford a delay, you cannot afford not to have a back-up plan. For those passengers on TOM2106, hopefully police will not have to rescue them again tonight as their flight to Tenerife will again attempt to takeoff.
image: Adam Wyczalkowski