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Huge queues, long diversions and a bus: Tui passengers from Corfu arrive in Aberdeen 32 hours late

Instead of arriving home on Friday night, the passengers eventually got home on Sunday morning.

Two men sitting side-by-side.
Alan and Ewen were in Corfu for a week. Image: Ewen Main.

Holiday-makers flying from Corfu to Aberdeen suffered the journey from hell after arriving home 32 hours late.

Ewen Main, 55, was among those set to return back home from the Greek island after a week away with his friend Alan when the travel nightmare happened.

After having to wait in a huge queue for 90 minutes in the 30C Mediterranean heat to get inside Corfu Airport for the 10pm flight, they were told to wait for yet another 30 minutes.

People queuing to get into Corfu Airport.
The pair had to wait in 30C heat for 90 minutes to get into Corfu Airport. Image: Ewen Main.

Mr Main said the Aberdeen contingent “waited and waited and waited”, before the departure board came up saying that the flight was boarding.

The screen then went blank after “10 seconds” and 40 minutes later, the waiting passengers were told that the flight would not be departing that night.

Mr Main said he checked online using a live flight tracker, which said the plane had actually departed.

Stressful situation

Data from Flightradar24 confirmed that it left Greece at 9.42pm that evening.

Explaining what happened next, Mr Main said: “We were just sitting there waiting for hotels and we were told early in the morning, at about 3am, that no hotels were available.”

Many people, including families with small children, slept on the floor of the airport until they were advised at 4am to find themselves a hotel, which they would need to pay for themselves.

Dirty walk-in shower.
The hotel the pair were put in was dirty. Image: Ewen Main.

Mr Main claimed Tui did then step up and find hotels – dropping them off between 7am and 8am, advising they would need to check-out just four hours later.

Outside of Aberdeen Airport.
The flight was meant to take passengers directly from Corfu to Aberdeen Airport. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson.

When passengers were taken back to the airport, they were then hit with more bad news: they would be flying back to Manchester, not Aberdeen.

But even when back in the UK, the journey was far from smooth – with the aircraft circling Manchester Airport for half an hour due to an issue.

Passengers were then told they would be diverting to London Heathrow, although the plane was instead refuelled at East Midlands Airport before circling Manchester for another 30 minutes.

Plea ‘fell on deaf ears’

After arriving at the north-west England airport just before midnight on Saturday, passengers were advised a bus would take them back to Aberdeen.

Furious Mr Main said: “One of the rights is if you’re flight’s been redirected, you’ve got the right to get the same type of transport to your final destination.”

Sign on door saying toilet is out of order.
The toilet on the bus from Manchester Airport to Aberdeen was out of order. Image: Ewen Main.

Compounding the travel misery for the two friends from the Granite City was the bus that took them north of the border did not have a toilet, as it was out of order.

The bus only stopped once on the seven-hour journey home, a 30-minute break at Carlisle.

Both men arrived back in Aberdeen at 7.30am on Sunday – 32 hours after they were meant to.

Describing how he is feeling, Mr Main said: “Tired.”

Tui apologise to affected customers

In a statement, officials from the airline confirmed the flight was cancelled due to delays arriving into Corfu, putting staff at risk of exceeding their legal hours.

A spokeswoman from Tui said: “We completely understand the frustration of customers on flight TOM1585, and we sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused.

“Due to a delay to the outbound flight, TOM1585 arrived into Corfu late and unfortunately the crew would have been outside of their legal working hours and could not operate the return flight.

“With the safety of our passengers and crew being our utmost priority and in an abundance of caution, we booked customers onto alternative flights back to the UK.

“As the original aircraft was needed back in the UK, it returned to the UK on an empty flight.

“Half of the customers were booked onto a flight from Manchester where they were provided with transportation back to Aberdeen. The other half were booked into hotels for a one-night stay and were then flown home the following day.

“Our reps in the airport were on hand to assist and support customers throughout.”