Passengers wait 16 hours for TUI flight from Exeter Airport after plane was 'too heavy' to take off

Passengers reported seeing their luggage being removed from the plane 'at random'. Credit: Devon Live/BPM Media

The holiday company TUI has apologised to passengers who experienced a 16-hour delay at Exeter Airport because their plane was "too heavy" to take off.

People on board the flight to Turkey on 3 June were told to disembark the aircraft just before scheduled take-off because of a "technical issue".

Passengers reported watching their luggage removed from the plane due to an "issue with the weight" of the aircraft as they watched their suitcases get "removed at random" from the plane.

When the problem could not be resolved by officials at the airport, people said they were told to go home as the flight would be delayed until the following day.

After an overnight delay, the flight finally left for Alanya at 8.40am on 4 June - more than 16 hours later.

Speaking of the ordeal, one passenger said: "It was a bit of a nightmare to be honest. We will definitely be asking questions of the company. They have only offered us the equivalent of one day's holiday back."

A TUI spokesperson told ITV News West Country that all expenses can be claimed for travel and sustenance, and will be paid back.

“We completely understand the frustration of customers who were due to be on flight FHY546 from Exeter yesterday and we would like to apologise for the delay in their journey," they added.

"The flight, operated by Freebird, experienced a technical issue prior to take-off. As a precaution, all customers needed to be disembarked so that engineers could carry out an inspection and resolve the problem. 

"Due to hotel availability in Exeter, customers were required to return home. Expenses can be claimed back for travel and sustenance expenses.

"Those customers travelling on a TUI package will receive a one-day pro-rata refund. All customers received full communications on how to claim back expenses, as well as details of how to claim compensation from Freebird in accordance with EU regulations."

They also thanked passengers for their patience and understanding.