United Kingdom

Holidaymakers on TUI flight from Lanzarote to Edinburgh are kicked off at Gatwick

Holidaymakers on a return flight to Edinburgh were taken off a plane at Gatwick and told the rest of their 450-mile trip would be completed by road.

After a four-hour delay in Lanzarote the flight finally took off but because of the wait crew could not reach Scotland without exceeding their legal flying hours.

The TUI aircraft was diverted to the London airport where passengers were told they would finish their journey home by coach - a drive likely to take up to 10 hours.

An estimated 200 passengers were on board the return flight which left Arricife in Lanzarote at 9pm local time on Thursday.

Around 200 people on a delayed TUI flight from Lanzarote to Edinburgh landed at Gatwick in the early hours of Friday morning only to be told they would be making the rest of the journey by coach (they are pictured waiting for buses, left, and on the road, right)

It landed at Gatwick airport at around 1am and passengers ended up having to wait two-and-a-half hours for buses to a hotel.

And there was fury when the weary travellers discovered TUI would be putting them aboard coaches this afternoon rather than completing the journey by air.

Frustrated passenger Eileen Bryant, 67, from Stranraer, Dumfries and Galloway, questioned why TUI didn't know about the lack of available flying hours earlier.

She said: 'Just experienced the worst service ever from TUI. Flight diverted to Gatwick because the crew ran out of legal flying time.

'Surely this would have been obvious before they actually left? Arrived in Gatwick shortly after 1am to be told we will be put up in a hotel and then bused to Edinburgh at 12.30 today.

'By the time the total shambles of an organisation got the buses to transport us to the hotel it is now after 4am.

Eileen, 67, and Mike Bryant, 72, pictured during their holiday in Lanzarote, said there was a disgusting lack of organisation' throughout their return journey

Mrs Bryant questioned why TUI didn't realise before the flight that the crew would have ran out of legal flying hours by the return trip

'The transfer to Edinburgh by bus will apparently take eight hours, then we have another three hours to travel. Will never fly Tui again'.

Her husband, Mike, 72, added: 'Disgusting lack of organisation and support from TUI. Rather than fly us to Edinburgh in the morning they plan to deliver us to Edinburgh by coach. Seriously p***** off.'

The Lanzarote flight was delayed for four hours, leaving at around 9pm on Thursday

Images were later uploaded to Twitter showing a large queue of elderly, children and adults standing outside in the cold with their luggage waiting for the bus to turn up.

Steven Inglis uploaded a picture captioned: 'Very poor show Tui dropping 200+ off at Gatwick instead of Edinburgh at 2am, Must have known prior to flight the crew's hours wouldn't allow the flight to reach Edinburgh.

'Safety is paramount [but] there is no excuse for bad planning and poor service. @TUIUK must have known due to a four hour delay on the outbound flight, the return would not reach Edinburgh.

'Lots of very, very angry folk here queuing in the cold at 2am for a bus, being kept in the dark is not good customer service @TUIUK take note'.

Passengers are understood to have started boarding buses just before midday on their way to Edinburgh Airport.

Mrs Bryant said today: 'They have now offered 400 euros each compensation but I would rather have got home at the right time.'

Steven Inglis also tweeted about the flight saying 'there is no excuse for bad planning and poor service' in one of his three tweets to TUI

Mrs Bryant, who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, said standing outside waiting for a bus at Gatwick was 'horrendous', as was the thought of the long journey home.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority all a travel company need to do is 'make sure you get' to your location.

But Moneysavingexpert.com suggests long journeys by coach are rare. They state: 'The airline has a duty to look after you, get you on a flight, and in some cases pay you a hefty chunk of compensation or a refund.'

The maximum a pilot can legally fly in seven consecutive days is 60 duty hours, while 14 days it is 110 and 28 days it is 190 hours but it has to be spread evenly as practicable possible.

A spokesperson for TUI said: 'We’d like to sincerely apologise to customers on flight TOM1455 from Lanzarote to Edinburgh last night, which was diverted to London Gatwick due to operational issues.

'All customers were provided with hotel accommodation and meals in London Gatwick. We have arranged transport to Edinburgh by coach today which will include refreshments.  For customers who chose to book their own onward travel to Edinburgh, we are providing a contribution payment. 

'The safety and wellbeing of customers and crew is always our highest priority. We know this is a frustrating experience for customers, and we would once again like to apologise and thank them for their patience and understanding.'