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TUI’s Boeing Dreamliner should have departed from Cape Verde to Bristol Airport on Tuesday morning but eventually only took off shortly before midnight. Arrival time was scheduled for Wednesday at 6.36am. However, travellers were flown to Birmingham instead, made to wait on board for two hours, and taken to their final destination by coach – a long journey which resulted in several people “kicking off” at crew members.
The BY245’s original departure time was 7.55am (UTC). Instead, it departed Sal International Airport, Cape Verde’s main international airport, at 11.19pm (UTC).
Then, as the pilot began the descent into Bristol Airport, further issues arose.
Data from flight-tracking service FlightRadar showed the plane descended to 800ft before immediately ascending again. According to passengers, though, the aircraft touched down on the runway before flying off again.
Rachel Lewis, from Devon, said: “We absolutely bounced off the runway back into the sky, causing a system error.
“Before we landed, the captain said it would be bouncy due to the tarmac length.
“We took a shortcut. I’ve flown in and out of Bristol plenty and I was thinking ‘where are we going?'”
Passengers on a TUI flight went through a 10-hour ordeal
She added: “We went down and the plane honestly felt like it smashed the tarmac, then we went back up into the air.
“The captain announced this was normal and he was going to try again.
“We did a big turn and then he announced a system error had occurred.
“Honestly, it was scary. I’ve landed in Canada in ice and snow, but this was ‘bounce, bounce’.”
At that point, a new destination — Birmingham Airport — was announced and 7700 squawk alert, which signals a general emergency, was issued.
The code, an alert to air traffic controllers that there was an issue with the plane and it needed to land, was sent just north of Gloucester.
Once landed in Birmingham, inspections were carried out to determine whether the aircraft could fly back to Bristol.
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Ms Lewis told Bristol Live: “Loads of people were kicking off.
“One man was abusive to staff, so they called the police.”
The man was escorted off the plane, Ms Lewis said.
Meanwhile, a pregnant woman required assistance after feeling ill, with firefighters boarding the plane to administer first aid, followed by paramedics who treated her at the back.
Travellers were finally told to collect their bags and later driven down the M5 to Bristol.
The incident follows weeks of travel chaos across UK airports, with German travel giant TUI seeing hundreds of flights affected.
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The Jubilee bank holiday’s increase in traffic, which saw two million people book flights over the long weekend, led major airlines, including EasyJet and British Airways, to cancel some of their routes.
Manchester Airport, which is one of TUI’s biggest bases in the country, has seen 43 flights a week cancelled for the rest of June.
This is understood to be roughly a quarter of the company’s services from one of Britain’s largest airports.
TUI said it understood the cancellations would be “disappointing” but added: “We believe this is necessary to provide stability and a better customer service at Manchester Airport.”
It said customers affected by cancellations would receive a full refund for their holidays “as well as an extra gesture of goodwill” and called cancellations of the kind “extremely rare”.
On Tuesday, British Airways cancelled almost 120 flights to and from Heathrow and EasyJet grounded around 60 involving UK airports.
Travellers are also facing long delays at airports when checking in and collecting baggage.
John Holland-Kaye, the boss of Heathrow Airport, has warned passengers could face another 18 months of travel disruptions.
He told a Financial Times conference it would take between a year and a year and a half for the industry to fully recover capacity after it cut tens of thousands of jobs during Covid.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, airports and airlines across Great Britain employed around 140,000 people, according to Airlines UK.
Since then, however, thousands of jobs have been cut, including around 30,000 for UK airlines alone, due to the restrictions on international travel.
Mr Holland-Kaye said: “What we saw in some airports over the past few weeks is that supply and demand were out of balance.
“We need to make sure we are planning much better.”