A MAN has spoken of the 'nightmare' he went through as his flight was delayed at the last minute for almost 24 hours and he had to be put up in a hotel.

It comes amid staff shortages at airports up and down the country which has resulted in queues lasting hours and missed flights for many holidaymakers.

Harry Walton, of Weymouth, was due to go to Crete on what would have been his first trip abroad since the start of the pandemic - however at the last minute his flight, which was due to leave from Bournemouth Airport at 2.20pm on Sunday, June 5, was delayed.

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Mr Walton said that at first passengers were told that the flight to the capital of Crete, Heraklion, would be delayed half an hour due to technical issues, and then were told of further delays until they were told the flight would be leaving the next day on June 6.

The retired reporter and local author described the ordeal as a 'living nightmare'.

He said: "It felt like everything that could possibly go wrong did go wrong."

Mr Walton said he was particularly disappointed that a personal representative who could have provided more support to the stranded passengers was not there and said that he called his travel agent who said they were not made aware of the delay either from the airline.

He said they had been given little to no information on how to get compensation for the delay from the airline and that most of the information on what to do was discovered by other passengers.

Accommodation was offered to passengers but Mr Walton said the 'fleet of taxis' which had been arranged to pick them up came in 'dribs and drabs' and that around 70 people were left waiting in the rain at Bournemouth Airport car park to be taken to the hotel.

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He said he was going away to Crete for a two-week holiday but had spoken to passengers who were going to be there for about a week and said it was disappointing that himself and other holidaymakers and travellers had lost a whole day of their trip as a result.

Mr Walton and fellow passengers on the flight left for Heraklion from Bournemouth Airport at 12pm the next day.

Across the UK passengers booked with easyJet, British Airways, Tui Airways and Wizz Air are among those who have seen their plans to return from half-term or bank holiday breaks disrupted.

It has been reported that aviation industry has been struggling to cope with the rise in demand for travel amid a severe staffing shortage.

However, Bournemouth Airport said it has not seen the increase in travel disruptions which have been seen at many larger airports across the country and said that the been 'coping very well' and that this flight was not indicative of any wider problem being experienced at the airport.

Tui have said that they were in 'direct contact' with customers on the flight and offered those affected with overnight accommodation, meals and refreshments where needed.

A spokesman for Tui UK said: "We’re sorry to those of our customers who have had their holidays impacted by delays and cancellations recently.

"We can confirm we have had no recent cancellations from Bournemouth Airport. Flight TOM6786 from Bournemouth to Heraklion on 5th of June was unfortunately delayed and departed (On June 6).

"The start of the half-term holidays was an extremely busy time which put the entire travel industry under immense pressure, with staff shortages, supply chain issues and general operational disruption adding to the challenges.

"We can reassure our customers that this was an extraordinary situation, and our flights from Bournemouth are now operating as normal, with limited delays. We have taken more than 230,000 people on holiday in the past week, and we are doing everything we can to ensure customers can look forward to enjoying their summer holidays as planned."