A family-of-four who set out to relax on holiday were instead left to deal with a hellish ordeal after their trip was cancelled three times and, it cost them a whopping £7,000 to boot.
Charlotte Moss, 43, says she was eventually able to secure a booking for a hotel in Majorca on her fourth attempt, through WizzAir – for £3,700.
The mum-of-two had already spent the larger sum of £7.2k trying to book a half-term trip.
But, the family were then caught up in the airport chaos that saw hundreds of flights cancelled over the school holidays.
Their flight out was delayed by five hours.
When they managed to return home they had to wait three hours for their bags at the airport so chose to have them couriered home instead.
Their bags were then only returned to them four days after they had landed, Charlotte, from Poole, Dorset, claims.
The mum said: “There was quite a lot of chaos booking the holiday – the agencies take your money and then the booking isn't confirmed.
“It was just awful – we had a lovely time on holiday but panicked about the return journey the whole time.
“As soon as we landed, I knew there was going to be problems – they couldn’t get stairs to the aircraft due to staff shortages and then they didn’t give us a baggage carousel number when we got off."
Charlotte, who founded Belief Botanicals, originally tried to book a holiday from Bournemouth to Majorca for her partner Ben, 43, and teenage sons.
She noted that she paid Thomas Cook £2,700 for the flights and hotel.
But, then claim the family were told after six days that they couldn’t get the return flight they had wanted as there wasn't enough room on the flight back – and they would have to return a couple of days later.
While waiting for a refund, Charlotte tried to book flights to Zante via Love Holidays and paid £3,000 to for flights and a hotel.
Then, they were again told that they couldn’t have the flights they wanted as again there wasn't enough room on the flights after waiting for three days.
Charlotte tried to use lastminute.com to book flights to Majorca and spent approximately £1,500 on plane tickets which were cancelled as the return flight had been overbooked.
She did, however, praise the company for refunding her the same day.
Desperate for a holiday, she then went directly to Wizz Air for flights to the Spanish island and finally managed to get confirmation their trip was booked.
However, to get the flights they wanted they chose to travel to Gatwick rather than Bournemouth like they had originally wanted.
They received a text on their way to Gatwick stating their flight had been delayed by four hours, but continued to the airport.
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When they arrived the delay was extended to five hours, but eventually they made it to Majorca.
When returning home they were again delayed by an hour and waited until 3am for their bags before giving up.
Charlotte said: “The travel agencies take your money and then wait, the first one we booked took six days to tell us there were no return flights and asked if we would like to come back two days later but we couldn’t because of the kids' school and A-level exams.
“Nearly £3,000 was taken three weeks ago by Thomas Cook that has only just been refunded – you're buying something that doesn’t exist.
"Then we booked with Love Holidays to Zante – I didn’t care where we went, I was just trying any destination.
“We spent another £3,000 with Love Holidays as they use Tui to book the flights and I thought that must be guaranteed availability but they said there was no availability and they’ll refund us.”
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She added: “Eventually I found a holiday and booked flights directly with Wizz Air and ended up spending almost £1,000 more than I originally booked the holiday for – it was nearly £500 per ticket and then we had to travel to Gatwick and pay to park the car as well.
“We had to make our holiday a day shorter as we could only get a six day break, and then on our way to Gatwick we got a message saying our flight was going to be delayed for four hours.
“We had a lovely holiday and were only delayed an hour on the return flight but as soon as we landed, I knew there was going to be problems.
“The baggage sign kept saying please wait and the staff scarpered as soon as they saw all these angry faces – there was one woman behind a counter who went behind a door and never came back and no one from Gatwick.
“There was not one person at the desk, there was a huge queue and I kept going back but there was never anyone there.
"I think they were all hiding or so short staffed, I think all the staff are so fed up they don’t want to speak to anyone.
“I just can't see they’re going to fix this for the summer holidays – obviously it’s worse when everyone's trying to go at the same time."
A spokesperson from 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.
"Booking directly on wizzair.com or the WIZZ app – as opposed to other online booking platforms – remains the best way to ensure we reach our customers more quickly.
"Whilst every cancellation is regrettable, the vast majority of our flights are operating as planned, with more than 100,000 passengers reaching their destinations each day.
"We’d like to offer our sincere apologies again 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).
"In line with local regulations, Wizz Air will provide compensation to a reasonable amount for food, travel and accommodation resulting from the cancellation or delay of its flights – passengers should keep their receipts, and fill out the claims form in the Welfare category on wizzair.com to be reimbursed.”
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A spokesperson for loveholidays said: "We were sorry to hear that the customer had challenges with their booking experience.
"We appreciate all feedback from our customers and continue to strive to provide a simple, clear booking experience.
"Our site states that it can take up to 72 hours to confirm a booking.
"This is because, as an independent online travel agent, we need our suppliers to confirm all the separate elements of the holiday booking – from accommodation, to flights, transportation, and more.
"In this case, the customer made a booking on May 25 and payment was taken in full.
"Unfortunately, the flights became unavailable during the above-mentioned confirmation process.
"We contacted the customer as soon as this became apparent via email on May 26.
"We informed the customer that we were unable to confirm the selected flights, and that one of our advisors would be in touch within 72 hours to offer alternative options.
"On May 27, we offered the customer alternative departure airports and dates to ensure the customer could still have their holiday – however, the customer instead requested a full refund, which we processed within 52 hours from when the initial payment was taken."
A spokesperson for Thomas Cook said: “We’re really sorry that the holiday Mrs Moss wanted to take had to change at short notice and we have refunded her in full.”
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