Mum left in tears as family holiday cancelled twice amid travel chaos
- Credit: Rachel Hunt
A family-of-four say they were escorted out of Gatwick airport by counter-terrorism police after their first holiday together was cancelled at the last-minute - before the same thing happened two days later.
Rachel Hunt, along with husband Sam Hunt, two-and-a-half year old son Leo and nine month old son Indie, found out by text message that their Wizz Air flight to Larnaca, Cyrpus, had been cancelled as they sat for breakfast in the departures lounge on Wednesday, June 1.
After a five-hour journey back to Suffolk amid motorway chaos, the family rebooked for the same flight on Friday morning, June 3 - only to be told of the cancellation as they waited at the airport gate.
A spokesperson for the Hungarian airline apologised for the cancellation and said they were trying to process refunds within a week.
Mrs Hunt said: "It was an awful week.
"The first time we arrived early because we had two small children and all the things you have to take with them, so we checked our bags and went through security.
"We sat down to have breakfast and I received a text saying our flight was cancelled completely out of the blue.
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"We sat round looking at the phone wondering what we were going to do.
"We didn't accept that was that, but the trouble was Wizz Air didn't have anyone at Gatwick to take ownership of what happened. Eventually we were told to go to an empty gate where we were escorted out by counter-terrorism police."
The family had been due to fly with four friends, two of whom were due to be on the same flight while another couple flew without issue from the Midlands.
Mrs Hunt then rebooked the tickets for the next available flight.
She said: "I was just optimistic and thinking it couldn't happen again.
"We decided to stay in a hotel at the airport the night before, rather than leaving at 2am again to make things as stress-free as possible.
"Again, we checked our bags and got through security, this time we had breakfast in the departures lounge and went to our boarding gate when we got another message to say it was cancelled. I felt sick."
The businesswoman and journalist, from Ringsfield, near Beccles, had booked the trip in January for a first holiday as a family-of-four, but says the two cancellations have left her around £1,000 out of pocket.
Mrs Hunt added: "I really needed this holiday too because I recently lost my mum quite suddenly, and my friend we were travelling with had too, so we were both sitting there in tears when we found out.
"It wasn't fair on the boys to keep telling them they were going on holiday, and I feel like I've let them down, but there was no one there from the airline to explain why it was happening.
"We can't get a refund for the parking or the hotel, and I've been on hold for over an hour with no answer trying to get my money back for the flights.
"It's really put us off travelling."
A spokesperson for Wizz Air said: "We are so sorry that too many of our passengers are being subjected to current delays and, in some cases, cancellations.
"Across the travel industry Wizz Air and every airline is doing as much as we all can to help as many passengers as possible reach their destinations in time and with minimal delay.
"However, amongst other issues causing operational instability throughout the travel industry, there is a widespread shortage in staff, in particular within air traffic control, ground operations and baggage handling, security and across airports.
"Wizz Air has increased direct communications with all our customers through text, email and phone calls to ensure - as much as possible - that they are best informed of any changes in our services.
"Our sincere apologies to those customers whose travel plans have been affected as we do understand how disappointed they are, particularly when so many people want and deserve to travel the world again.
"We are trying everything we can to offer them a range of options so that they can travel including alternative flights with Wizz Air, a full refund or 120% in airline credit, both of which we aim to process within a week."