Passengers left 'worried sick' as TUI delays flights from Belfast

Lee Parkinson and his partner, Hannah.

Belfast holidaymakers planning to jet off for a dose of early summer sunshine are facing travel delays - with some having to wait for more than 20 hours.

Flights to Rhodes in Greece and the Spanish island of Ibiza were delayed on Wednesday night leaving travelers disappointed and searching for answers from the airline.

TUI's flight to Rhodes from Belfast International Airport was scheduled to take-off at 2.05pm on Wednesday, 9 June, but has since been pushed back to 11.30am on Thursday, 10 June.

It is the latest in a series of delays and cancellations affecting the airline industry, with EasyJet also facing criticism after passengers at several airports were forced to rebook or reschedule at late notice.

Lee Parkinson and his partner Hannah, a student nurse at Queen's University, were due to be on Wednesday's flight from Rhodes.

Lee told UTV News that the ordeal and 'lack of communication and support' from TUI has left both of them feeling 'worried sick'.

Lee Parkinson and his partner, Hannah.

"Hannah and I are both quite distressed at present and would rather not go on holiday with TUI," he said.

"However, TUI have told us they will not refund our holiday until the flight is over 24 hours delayed… financially, losing £1,000 is not an option for us.

He claimed: "We have also been in contact with passengers due to fly from Rhodes to Belfast this evening [Wednesday], our plane was meant to be their plane home and they are stranded in Rhodes airport and have told us there isn’t a TUI rep in sight and no information has been given.

UTV News has also spoken to passengers in Rhodes, due to travel to Belfast.

One traveller said they have booked a flight to London and a further connection to Belfast because they could stay in Greece no longer.

Lee added: "This is the main reason myself and Hannah are worried, if we are delayed coming home I financially can’t take the time off work and Hannah is a second year student nurse at Queen's (University Belfast), due to go on placement when we return."

"The lack of communication and support is shocking. When we went to collect our bags after the announcement of the flight delay, Swissport told us TUI had arranged transfers and a hotel stay overnight and would contact us with the new flight arrangement."

The delay was compounded by further bad news after the couple found out their flight had been delayed until Thursday.

"We waited an hour outside the International (Airport) for a coach to take us to our accommodation before TUI emailed to say due to high demand they can’t facilitate this and to go home if we can and we could claim £150 per household in travel expenses.

"I can tell you one thing - I will never in my life book with TUI again," he said.

"We’ve been worried sick and if we do get away, the holiday is now ruined with the worry of possibly being stranded on the route home."

A TUI UK spokesperson said: "We’d like to apologise to all customers travelling from Belfast to Ibiza and Rhodes who’s flights have unfortunately been delayed due to a technical issue. We can confirm both flights are scheduled to depart on 9 June.

"We are in regular contact with all impacted customers and have offered, overnight accommodation where possible, meals and refreshments as needed.

"We understand that last minute delays are disappointing and we’d like to reassure customers that we are doing everything we can to get them on holiday.

"The majority of our flights are operating as planned and we apologise again for any inconvenience caused."

You can follow the latest flight information from Belfast International Airport here.

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