Travel nightmare sees shattered families held up in Portugal for over 30 hours

Around 100 holidaymakers finally flew home from Portugal in the wee small hours of Saturday morning, after over 30 hours of travel agony.

A fuelling fault held up their Thomson-chartered flight, which should have left Faro on Thursday morning.

Instead, passengers found themselves ferried back and forth from the airport on abortive attempts to reschedule until they were finally told on Friday evening that the only option available was a flight to Manchester, followed by “an eight-hour coach journey north”.

“To be honest, I just really wish I’d never gone on holiday,” mother-of-two Lisa Watts has told the Aberdeen Press and Journal. “If I’d known what would happen, I would have stayed at home.

“We will never ever book with Thomson again,” she added, stressing: “It’s not as if we were sitting by the pool. We were ferried to the airport twice. It was very traumatic. They kept raising our hopes and then dashing them.”

Thomson has since issued a “sincere apology to all its affected customers”, said the news service as it continued to catalogue passengers’ tales of woe.

“The whole thing was a total disaster,” Steve Murray from Bridge of Don told them. “There was no communication. The airport staff and Thomson reps had no idea what was going on.

“By the time they told us about the coach journey, I was absolutely devastated.

“I was close to tears.

“It was a take it or leave it offer.

“I’m 59 and fairly healthy but there were people in their 80s and folk with young children and I really felt for them.”

Some passengers were transported to a hotel on Thursday evening but were then awoken at 3am on Friday morning and taken back to the airport.

But by lunchtime, when it became clear they would not be getting home after all, they were taken to yet another hotel.

Lee McDonald, of Nairn – the father of four-month-old baby Ivy – said it was difficult to keep his daughter from overheating in what was 35ºC heat.

“I cannot believe it took so long to get home,” he told the Press and Journal.

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