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Passengers sleep in towel tents and on baggage trolleys as air traffic chaos continues

Jul 20, 2023

Scenes of chaos unfolded in Majorca after strong storms coupled with air traffic control issues in the UK to cancel a large number of flights, meaning many people were stuck sleeping on the airport floor

Passengers trying to get back to the UK have been seen hunkering down in tents and sleeping in luggage trolleys at the airport.

Weary customers searched for make-shift solutions to get some shut-eye at Palma Airport on Tuesday after severe weather over the weekend and air traffic control chaos in the UK led to many cancellations and lengthy delays.

Holidaymakers were pictured sleeping in trolleys, children resting on the airport floor, and one passenger even using a towel to make a tent-like canopy between barriers. Flights were cancelled on Sunday night due to the weather and then again on Monday because of the air traffic control issues, Chronicle Live reported.

The dual shock led to large back-logs that were still impacting customers on Tuesday night through into Wednesday morning. Sarah Skellern, from near Preston, Lancashire, described "absolute chaos" at Palma de Mallorca Airport, having waited on an aircraft for six hours before her Jet2 flight on Monday was cancelled.

"A lot of people realised that the longer we stayed there, our chance was our crew would run out of hours, which is what actually happened in the end," the mother-of-two told the BBC. After their flight was cancelled Sarah, her husband and two children had to find accommodation themselves. Because the hotels had quickly been booked up, they were forced to sleep on the airport floor.

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"As their mum I couldn't do anything about it. I think finally about three o'clock my youngest was in tears, my older one had fallen asleep on my knee. We just put some towels down on the floor and went 'you know what, let's try and get some sleep'," Sarah recalled.

One passenger, who asked to remain anonymous, described how difficult it was to find accommodation in Mallorca at the last minute due to it being peak holiday season. They said: "There was no communication except apologies for the flight being delayed, they called it delayed when it had actually been cancelled and disappeared. Some passengers asked for blankets and pillows, Jet2 have no access to these things, babies were left without milk and nappies.

"Children, babies and adults were left trying to sleep on plastic chairs and marble floors, my children have been physically vomiting with exhaustion due to the busyness and lack of fresh air in the airport. I feel sad that the holiday had to end like this."

Some customers, fed up with waiting for flights back to the UK amid the large backlog, have decided to take alternative routes home. One woman detailed the very roundabout route she is taking from Mallorca after her flight was cancelled.

"Ferry to Barcelona yesterday (incredibly rough, took over six hours), staying in a hotel at the airport, very early flight to Paris and am on the Eurostar this evening. I’m on my own and it’s cost me a fortune. It must be so much worse for families," she wrote on Twitter this morning.

A spokesperson for Jet2 said yesterday: "The severe weather conditions that affected Palma Airport (Majorca) yesterday have impacted all airlines using the airport. As a result, a number of our flights unfortunately had to night stop at Palma Airport, and despite our best efforts we were unable to secure hotel accommodation for everyone. "Our teams are working incredibly hard to look after everyone, however we would of course like to apologise to everyone who has been affected."

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