TUI passengers left ‘in floods of tears’ as trainee pilot aborts landing in snow

"Screaming" TUI passengers were left in "flood of tears" after a "trainee pilot" had to abort a landing during last week's snow.

Storm Larissa battered parts of the UK last Thursday (March 2) with intense winds and snow causing travel chaos.

The extreme weather was too much for the pilot of a TUI plane due to arrive from Tenerife at Manchester Airport at around 8pm.

READ MORE: Man froze to death inside undercarriage of TUI plane at Gatwick Airport

The landing had to be aborted last-minute, with the flight then diverted to East Midlands airport, reports Manchester Evening News.

Passenger Gareth Salter said: "People were panicking, babies were screaming, women were crying. There were some young girls behind us in floods of tears.

"I was saying my prayers, to be honest. I didn't think I'd see my family again. It was just awful."

Gareth, from Glossop, criticised TUI for not telling passengers about the diversion until after the plane had landed.

He said: "We knew from the news that the weather was going to be bad, but as soon as were started coming into land it just didn't feel right. There were crosswinds and we were buffeted about in the turbulence.

"I knew it wasn't Manchester as soon as we landed. Then they came on the speaker and said we were at East Midlands and that it was a trainee pilot and asked us to give him a clap for landing us safely. People were clapping because they still in shock."

Gareth says the shell-shocked passengers were then 'abandoned' at East Midlands and left to find their own way home or arrange hotels. TUI denies this claim, saying transfers were organised to take customers back to Manchester Airport.

The travel firm says passengers were also offered the choice to make their own way home and claim the costs back or were offered accommodation where it was unsafe to travel.

Gareth and his partner got a hotel for the night then caught a train the next day, eventually getting home at 4pm on Friday. He said: "It was blizzard conditions outside. The whole place was in uproar.

"Even Greggs stayed open and baked another load of food for everyone. There was a two to three hour wait at the taxi rank, but with the weather being as it was everybody should have been put up in a hotel.

"It was frightening experience to begin with, then it just got more and more bizarre as it went on."

A TUI spokesperson said: "We can confirm that TOM2477 from Tenerife to Manchester Airport on March 9 diverted to East Midlands Airport, due to adverse weather conditions during the approach back to Manchester. Customers arrived safely into East Midlands Airport and were made aware of the diversion on arrival.

"Transfers were organised to take customers back to Manchester Airport and accommodation was offered where necessary. Customers received regular updates throughout the evening. We'd like to apologise for any inconvenience caused and thank customers for their patience and understanding.

"The safety of our customers and crew is our number one priority."

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