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Anxious Thomas Cook passengers seek a way home to Britain

Monday September 23 2019

Thomas Cook company

Tourists wait at a Thomas Cook company counter at Heraklion airport on the island of Crete on September 23, 2019. PHOTO | COSTAS METAXAKIS | AFP 

AFP
By AFP
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Palma, Spain,

Standing in a long line or sitting on their suitcases, anxious Thomas Cook passengers faced an uncertain wait on Monday at Palma airport for a flight to Britain following the collapse of the travel giant.

Among those on Spain's holiday island of Majorca seeking to check in to an alternative flight to Manchester was Clare Osborne, who was worried she would not make it to a funeral of a family member in Glasgow on Tuesday.

"We've actually been told that we are supposed to be going to Manchester airport at 9:00 pm tonight, but that's still a three-and-a-half journey to Glasgow," the 49-year-old accountancy assistant told AFP.

VERY TIGHT

"So it's very tight and we don't really know if its going to be nine o'clock, so I'm getting very anxious."

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Volunteers distributed water to the passengers as they queued in the slow moving line to check in to the alternative flight to Manchester, while British government officials wearing yellow vests decorated with a Union Jack stood by at Palma airport, Spain's third busiest, to provide information.

"They have been a great help," said John Raid, 57, waiting with his wife and grandson.

They had been scheduled to fly back to Newcastle on Monday morning, but have instead been put on an evening Iberia flight to Manchester.

From Manchester they have been told that a bus will be waiting to take them to Newcastle, about 145 kilometres (90 miles) away.
Raid said Thomas Cook staff continued to provide them with assistance on Monday morning as well as a free transfer to the airport.

"It's one of these things that happens," he said.

Other passengers however complained that they were not getting information from the collapsed company about how to get home and learned about return flights from other passengers.

DIFFERENT STORIES

"We're getting told so many different stories about where we are actually going to fly to and the last we have heard is we're going into Manchester," said Mary Cara, 50, who was travelling back to Glasgow.

For Julie Payne, a 34-year-old store employee from Newcastle, the uncertainty about the fate of Thomas Cook cast a shadow over the last days of her beach holiday in Majorca.

"We just spent so much time worrying about what was going to happen these last few days, looking up the news, instead of relaxing," she said, sitting on her suitcase in line with two friends to check in for the Manchester flight.

Mary Allardycee, a 63-year-old sales assistant who was travelling back to Glasgow, said she had heard of Thomas Cook's problems, "but you never think it's going to happen to you".

"You really don't, but unfortunately it has and there is nothing we can do about it so we are sitting here waiting to get a flight," she said.