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Hundreds of Tui passengers sleep at Barbados airport – while ‘premium customers are given hotels’

Simon Calder’s Travel

Hundreds of Tui passengers have spent the night trying to sleep at Barbados airport after their flight home to London Gatwick was cancelled – while “premium customers were given hotels”.

Tui flight TOM21 from the Caribbean island to Gatwick was preparing for an on-time departure at 5pm local time (9pm GMT). But as the aircraft was preparing to leave, a ground service vehicle is reported to have struck a cargo door on the Boeing 787 jet.

One passenger, Mark Pantlin, told The Independent: “We heard a loud bang half an hour before take-off. It appears to have been a vehicle carrying disabled passengers striking the aircraft.

“We were told by captain that it had been inspected locally and that UK engineers had said we were good to fly. But 20 minutes later they told that they were looking again.

“We were then told flight was cancelled and we would be staying the night and they were sorting out alternative flights.”

Many flights left Barbados for the UK over the next few hours, including British Airways departures to both London Heathrow and Gatwick, two Virgin Atlantic jets to Heathrow and another to Manchester, plus Tui flights to Manchester, East Midlands and Birmingham.

The Independent has asked Tui if seats on any of these flights were sought.

Mr Pantlin said passengers were told that the Barbados airport management would not let anyone off the plane until overnight accommodation was booked for everyone on board.

Eventually they were offloaded at 10pm, five hours after the flight was scheduled to leave.

“No Tui staff were seen for at least 45 minutes,” Mr Pantlin said. “We were then told there was not enough hotel space on the island for all.

“Tui then decided to put families with young children, and any disabled and older unwell people in hotels first – followed by all premium economy passengers.

“Everybody else was left sleeping on chairs at night, with no pillows or blankets, and with no news still from Tui.”

Night moves: Barbados airport lounge, where Tui passengers were stranded overnight

(Mark Pantlin)

A spokesperson for Tui told The Independent: “We would like to apologise to customers who were due to depart from Bridgetown to London Gatwick on flight TOM21 on 7 March. Unfortunately, in an incident out of our control, the aircraft was damaged as it prepared to depart.

“For the safety of our customers and…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at The Independent Travel…