Family stranded at closed airport following flight diversion
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
A Wymondham family left stranded overnight in a closed airport with their two young children have spoken out about their nightmare ordeal.
Sarah Matthews was returning from a family getaway on the Greek island of Rhodes with husband Andy and sons Harry, three, and Thomas, 18 months, when their flight was diverted.
'About an hour into our flight a passenger was taken really seriously ill, and they diverted us and made an emergency landing at Brindisi Airport in southern Italy,' the 37-year-old said.
But instead of a reassuring welcome, the 250 passengers spent four hours waiting for news on the plane – and were then left to find baggage reclaim on their own.
Although they were promised hotel rooms, it became apparent this wasn't the case when the pilot and cabin crew left the airport – which had closed for the night.
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'They started to walk out – we couldn't believe it. We asked them where they were going and what was happening and they didn't know,' Mrs Matthews said.
'We didn't know where we were, we didn't have anywhere to go – at first we didn't even know where the toilets were. If someone had an accident or hurt themselves in the airport none of us would have known what to do.'
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The family was left to set up camp on the marble floor, with Harry forced to lay on top of his mother so he could get some sleep.
Mrs Matthews, who works in market research, said: 'Andy and I hadn't had been to sleep in 34 hours by the time we got home. It was absolutely horrendous, the boys had barely had anything to eat.'
A statement from Thomson Airways said: 'Thomson Airways can confirm that flight TOM4249 travelling from Rhodes to London Gatwick on Tuesday night diverted to Brindisi Airport in Italy, due to a medical emergency on board.
'The health and safety of our passengers is of primary importance. As soon as he became aware of the medical emergency the pilot diverted to the nearest airport en route resulting in a delay. Our team at Thomson did everything possible to source hotel accommodation, but unfortunately none could be found at such short notice.
'Vouchers for food and drink were provided to all customers. We apologise for any inconvenience caused to customers.'
Do you have a Wymondham story for us? Contact reporter Lauren Cope on firstname.lastname@example.org