Passengers stranded in Bulgaria arrive back at Norwich Airport
PUBLISHED: 22:11 22 June 2018 | UPDATED: 09:59 23 June 2018
Passengers who were left stranded in Bulgaria after their flight from Cyprus made an emergency landing have arrived back in Norwich.
A Thomson Airlines flight took off from Sofia Airport around 4.45pm and landed in Norwich at around 7.45pm this evening.
The passengers, many of whom are from Norfolk, were originally on a flight to Norwich from Cyprus on June 21.
In the intervening time, the passengers have faced a host of challenges, including with hotels, currency and running out of medication.
When the flight landed, around 25 hours had passed since the original flight from Cyprus took off for Norwich.
The delay and lack of communication has ruined two weddings, a honeymoon and an engagement for Norwich couples.
Danny Gowler, 27, from Norwich, and his new wife Rebekah, 25, were married in Cyprus on June 13. The last week has been spent as their honeymoon, and while they were abroad his best man and his girlfriend got engaged.
Mr Gowler said: “We didn’t think we would make our wedding reception tomorrow, so that’s a bit of a relief knowing we’re getting to that.
“Our friends also got married at the same time as us coincidentally who were on the same flight, there was a lot of people all together.
“We were quite lucky really, it was more the elderly people who were running low on medication, there’s been a couple of diabetics on there who running low on insulin, I know they’ve done everything they needed to do and we appreciate that but it’s just we were left in the dark throughout the whole thing.
“Literally it was all word of mouth or hearsay really because we never had any clear direction.”
Mr Gowler also said there was “a really nice sense of community” among the passengers, and even went out to a Turkish restaurant with some fellow passengers he did not know.
Mandy Lain, 51, from Norwich, mother of a bridesmaid at one wedding, came to meet her daughter and daughter’s partner at the airport, who have two small children under five.
She said: “It’s been a bit of a nightmare. It’s hard work for the people with little ones. Obviously we have all been worried about their safety.
“It was quite stressful for them all, and they had dogs in the kennel they had to contact to stay another day.
“As long as they are all safe, that’s my main concern. I’d like to see my grandchildren.”
Sue Adcock, from Norwich, was a guest at one of the weddings. She said: “I have never been so glad to see Norwich. We were in the airport a long time, four hours or so.”
With her was Paul Adcock, who said: “No one contacted us, it was just an actual joke.
“When we were in the airport, we weren’t allowed to go out. Some people asked for a cigarette break, or some fresh air, or suggested we go upstairs but they just looked at you as if you were stupid.
“You’d think they would say, right, people with young children and elderly first, but there was just average people in their 30s and 40s with no kids being sent to hotels first.”
The passengers included a wedding party of 19 people and six children, and 27-year-old Jack Weaver said some groups had been split up across different hotels, and were running low on milk and nappies.
“It is pretty poor to be honest,” said Mr Weaver, who had been travelling with his wife Ellie. “Nobody is expecting miracles but we are in a country we did not plan to go to and none of us have any Bulgarian currency.”
Denise Clayton, 61, from Norwich, said: “TUI have not been supportive at all. We’re going to claim.
“My husband is diabetic and we were a bit worried about his insulin because he was alright but it could have worked out differently, had he not had enough insulin on him, I don’t know quite what we would have done.
“He was running low on all his medication, had it been another day I think I would have had to get in touch with the doctors here to fax a prescription across.”
A TUI spokesman said: “We would like to apologise to all customers on flight TOM5483 from Paphos to Norwich on 21st June 2018 which diverted to Sofia, Bulgaria last night due to a technical issue. All customers have been provided with meals and overnight accommodation.