Passengers fainted and had panic attacks on sweltering Thomas Cook plane stuck on tarmac

Stuck
Stuck

Bekki Reece says conditions became so bad her 12-year-old daughter suffered a nose bleed, while her one-year-old girl was fanned by other travellers as temperatures soared

A family says their dream holiday turned into a nightmare as passengers fainted and had panic attacks on a sweltering Thomas Cook plane which was stuck on the tarmac for three hours waiting for take off.

Bekki Reece says conditions became so bad her 12-year-old daughter suffered a nose bleed, while her one-year-old girl was fanned by other travellers as temperatures soared to about 37C.

The 32-year-old, from Biddulph, Staffordshire, says there was no air-con or water available as the plane sat waiting.

Bekki, partner Shane Davies and her three young children were among 300 passengers trapped on the packed jet at Lanzarote airport.

She told the Stoke Sentinel conditions caused some to faint, suffer panic attacks and vomit as the smell of aviation fuel filled the cabin.

Bekki Reece and partner Shane Davies were travelling back from Lanzarote
Bekki Reece and partner Shane Davies were travelling back from Lanzarote.

The family had been due to fly back with Thomas Cook to Manchester at 8.20pm on Thursday, July 5 but arrived at the airport only to be told they faced a two-and-a-half hour delay because of technical issues.

Bekki, who was also joined on the flight by mum Deb Dale and step-dad Michael Dale, said: “We got to the check-in and were told it would be a two-and-a-half hour delay but then at the gate it said three.

“We eventually boarded the plane but when we got on it was stifling – Shane said he felt sick.

“After two hours my eldest daughter was having nose bleeds and my youngest looked as though she had just got out the bath because she was dripping with sweat.

“Passengers were using their safety cards to fan her down. It was really scary. She was so floppy and struggling to keep awake.

“They opened the doors but there was a lot of commotion and after about three hours a young girl fainted.

“I was worried for all our health – it was unbearable. Any longer and we would have all passed out.”

Bekki, who also has a nine-year-old daughter, added: “Eventually the plane was taken back to the runway at 12.15am but we were told that under Lanzarote laws planes can’t take off after midnight.”

The passengers were eventually told they would be provided with a hotel for the night and had to catch taxis to their accommodation.

Now Bekki’s mum, Deb, who booked the holiday, has been offered €400 and £100 compensation per person.

Deb, aged 55, from Scholar Green, said: “It was a nightmare. I’ve been going abroad for nine years but it was only Bekki’s second time – it seemed like the plane was something from the ark.

“When we were on the plane I felt like crying but had to keep it together for my daughter and my grandchildren. I’ve said to myself that I’ll never use Thomas Cook again after this.”

Paul Hutchings, managing director of operations at Thomas Cook Airlines, said: “Flight MT1499 from Lanzarote to Manchester was delayed due to a technical issue and although all efforts were made to get customers on their way as soon as possible, it is clear to me that our customers endured unacceptable temperatures on board and for that I am very sorry.

“Customer welfare should always be at the heart of our decision making and I have begun an urgent review with all concerned, including our partner airlines who lease aircraft to us, into why the policies and procedures that we have in place for scenarios like this were not fully followed on this occasion.”

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