Norwich family stranded in India could lose another £1,500 if they get seats on first available flight
PUBLISHED: 14:19 19 April 2019 | UPDATED: 10:33 20 April 2019
A family stranded in Goa face a nervous wait to see if they get seats on a plane to England this evening - but they could lose another £1,500 in cancellation fees.
The holiday nightmare is continuing for Gary Howard and his family, who have been told it will cost £380 per person to cancel seats on a Monday flight from Mumbai to Heathrow.
That Air India flight is costing the Norwich family £5,500 as prices steeple in the wake of the cancellation on Wednesday of all Jet Airways flights to and from India.
The move has left thousands of people scrambling to find another flight home.
Mr Howard was supposed to be flying home on Saturday with his partner Freny Fernandes, her daughter Naina and his, Naiara, both 12.
But their Jet Airways flights were grounded, and they were at first offered seats on another plane for £4,000 each.
After many hours of frantic phone calls and online searches, they found the Monday slot through Southall Travel, flying Air India from Goa to Heathrow, with a six-hour wait at Mumbai.
They have since been told by Thomas Cook that they are on standby for an Air India flight direct from Goa to Manchester at 1.15am Saturday local time (8.45pm Friday UK time).
But Mr Howard said, if they got on the Goa flight, they would have to pay £380 each to cancel the Mumbai seats.
He said: “We feel so angry. This is an exceptional case, but there's no flexibility.”
Yesterday, a Southall spokesman said: “Mr Howard is not the only person affected. We have thousands who are and we are in a helpless situation. All we can do is provide options for passengers and it's their call whether they take them or not but the prices are on the high side because of so much demand.”
As flights booked up fast after the news broke on Thursday, Norfolk travel agents said people could be stranded for as long as a week, with one saying: “It's going to be very tricky to get home any time soon.”
The cost of flights home were soaring. On some routes, not even some of the most expensive fares in business class were available in a week's time from Mumbai nor Delhi to Heathrow.
The advice from Jet Airways and the Civil Aviation Authority was bleak for stranded passengers in terms of getting alternative flights or expenses paid for accommodation or travel incurred.