A mum has claimed she was left stranded at Gatwick airport for 22 hours after being booted off a plane because it was too full and left to fend for herself.
Charlie Day, 33, from Chelmsford, Essex, was marched through security three times due to the repeated cancellations and claims at one point passengers were stuck in a waiting room without food, water or toilet access due to the airport chaos.
She had arrived on Friday morning with her husband Lewis and five-year-old son Ernie ahead of their 2:30pm flight to Barcelona.
When checking in, Charlie noticed her family’s boarding passes were missing a seat number but was told by a member of staff that airlines had recently stopped including that information.
Despite the well-travelled mum-of-one questioning the apparent boarding pass change, she made her way through security, only later to discover the flight had been overbooked by 34 seats when queuing up to board.
The family were forced to march through security to then check-in again for a 9:45pm flight later that evening.
Having waited seven hours for the rescheduled flights, the gate didn’t open until midnight.
Dozens of passengers were left waiting without food, water and access to a toilet for the next 90 minutes, only for them to be sent an email at 1:30am telling them the flight had been cancelled.
Charlie, who runs her own business Charlie Day Sales, claims there was no representative from Vueling airline to ease anxieties around the flight.
She then paid £30 for an Uber to get to a £140 Premier Inn room, so her son could get three hours sleep, while Lewis waited an hour to collect their baggage.
The flight was rescheduled again for 9am, only for the gate to be changed 13 minutes before departure – on the other side of the terminal.
Having eventually boarded after a 22-hour wait, there was then a 45-minute delay on the runway before passengers could jet off to Spain.
“I would just urge others not to book with the airline – they have been outrageous,” Charlie told Jam Press.
“The conditions were just inhumane especially when travelling with a five-year-old.
“When we first arrived, we had left plenty of time and there was a bit of queueing but nothing too crazy.
“But when flights started getting cancelled it became jam packed.
“Everything was delayed. People were just flocking to Wetherspoons and there were dirty plates and glasses pilled everywhere.
“There was a 40-minute wait for Wagamama. It was just really hectic.
“When we were waiting for the second flight people were becoming really irate.
“Some had been in Wetherspoons for hours to pass the time so were a bit restless.
“We were told we couldn’t leave the room you wait in while waiting to board.
“There was no access to food, water or even a toilet. And everyone had been waiting around for so long.
“At no point did a Vueling representative come out to apologise or even to hand out water. There were babies, toddlers and pensioners waiting to board.
“When the email came through to say it was cancelled, we were just so knackered.
“I had to phone around 12 hotels before we eventually found somewhere to stay for the night.
“But there were people there who couldn’t find anywhere and had to sleep on the floor for the night.
“When we went to get the flight the third time, the gate was changed 13 minutes before departure on the other side of the terminal.
“People just didn’t believe anything the airline was telling them so there was just a stampede to the other gate.”
Charlie, Lewis and Ernie eventually arrived in Barcelona at 3pm on Saturday, before boarding their week-long Royal Carribean cruise around the Mediterranean.
Although they have been rewarded £523 each in compensation, she says the cost of getting food at the 22-hour airport stay, missed wages from the two days off work along with a missed stay at the hotel in Barcelona has caused distress.
Charlie added: “We missed out on a whole day exploring in Barcelona. And we were running on just three hours sleep.
“I just can’t believe how Vueling just didn’t offer anything in terms of customer care.”
A spokesman for Vueling told Jam Press: “On Friday there were several operational issues which impacted the scheduling of our outgoing flights.
“This affected our operations over the weekend. We always strive to offer a timely service, however, if this isn’t possible our priority is to organise the best alternatives for our customers.
“Our team at Gatwick worked diligently to resolve these issues and our customer service team is in touch with those affected by the delays.”
Jam Press has approached Gatwick airport for comment.