A couple who spent four years preparing for a trip to Greece to renew their vows were left devastated after being told their holiday was cancelled – as they boarded the plane.
Jo and Danny Oultram had planned to declare their love for each other 20 years after they got married and were heading to the island of Zakynthos with 25 guests on Monday.
But as they queued to board the Jet2 flight from Manchester Airport they got a message from the holiday operator to tell them their trip had been cancelled as a result of air traffic control issues.
Mrs Oultram, 52, said people were “angry, crying and shouting”, despite being told they would be refunded.
She said: “My dress and flowers are all still in the suitcase as I haven't been able to look at them.
“We have spent four years saving and planning everything down to the tiniest detail and it was crushed by one email.
“There was no communication from Jet2 throughout the day, we had family and friends already there waiting for us who flew out on the Sunday and Monday morning.
Mrs Oultram and her 41-year-old husband paid out £3,000 for the holiday and another £2,000 on wedding dresses, suits, shoes, flowers and decorations.
The couple also paid £90 for the drop off and go car park at the airport.
Mrs Oultram added: “We are beyond devastated, it's not even possible to move the holiday as our cousin Ruth has ovarian cancer and is due to start a trial treatment on 13 September, so she was really looking forward to this holiday before her treatment started.”
The final “kick in the teeth” for Mrs Oultram was when she received a text message from Jet2 after the holiday had been cancelled which read: “Hope you're having a lovely holiday.”
The flight was one of scores cancelled over the bank holiday weekend at Manchester Airport as hundreds of thousands of passengers across the country faced misery as due to air traffic control systems failing.
Around 1,000 flights were grounded and cancelled and many others delayed as chaos hit one of the busiest travel days of the year.
In a statement Jet2 said the holiday was cancelled “as a result of the significant disruption caused by the technical fault that affected the UK’s National Air Traffic Services this week”.
The company added in a statement: “Although events such as this are completely outside of our control, our total focus is on looking after our customers, with our teams working around-the-clock to provide this.
“We have been contacting all affected customers to let them know personally, and they will of course receive a full refund.”
What are your rights if you are affected by air traffic delays?
Passengers could be entitled to compensation if flights are delayed or cancelled as a result of the air traffic chaos.
If your flight from the EU into the UK or from the UK into the EU has been delayed as a result of air traffic delays, the airline is responsible for providing a ‘duty of care’ if you have opted to take another flight at the earliest opportunity.
They should provide things like food and drink, regular updates and accommodation – including transportation to and from the place of stay – if needed.
Receipts for food and drink and hotel expenses should be included with proof of delays when contacting airlines for reimbursement of costs, but only reasonable expenses are covered.
If your flight is delayed for more than five hours and you no longer wish to travel you can ask for a refund, while refunds and alternative flights should be offered if flights are cancelled entirely.
Up to £520 compensation could also be claimed for delays of over three hours – but the cause of the delay or cancellation must be the airline’s fault and air traffic control issues would not be included.
Holidaymakers on flights from outside the EU to the UK with a non UK or EU airline should contact the airline in question for support.