Standing in a long line or sitting on their suitcases, anxious Thomas Cook passengers at Palma airport faced an uncertain wait on Monday for a flight to Britain following the collapse of the travel giant.
At the same time many tourists arriving on Spain’s resort island of Majorca for the start of their holidays found the hotel reservations they made through the company were not valid.
Marianne Strenger, a pensioner in her 70s who came to Spain from Berlin with her daughter for a one-week beach holiday, said reception staff at the Hotel Palma Bay said when she tried to check in that they had not received any money from Thomas Cook for her booking and she had to pay for her accommodation again.
“They treated me as if I was the one who was insolvent,” she told AFP outside the three-star hotel on Monday night.
Other guests at the hotel told of similar experiences when they tried to check in.
“We had to pay twice,” said Nils Lichte, a 30-year-old supermarket manager from Cologne.
Among those on Majorca struggling to leave the island was Clare Osborne, who was worried she would not make it to a funeral of a family member in Glasgow on Tuesday.
The 49-year-old accountancy assistant was told she would be put on a 9 pm flight to Manchester and then face ” three-and-a-half to four-hour journey” by bus to Glasgow.
“So it’s very tight and we don’t really know if it’s going to be nine o’clock, so I’m getting very anxious.”
Kevin Mundie, a 53-year-old hydraulics engineer, also had to return to Glasgow by flying first to Manchester, then making the rest of the journey by bus.
“It’s going to be nearly 24 hours by the time we get home from when we got up this morning,” he said.
Volunteers distributed water to the passengers as they queued in the slow moving line to check in to the alternative flight to Manchester from Palma airport, Spain’s third busiest.
British government officials, wearing yellow vests decorated with a Union Jack, were also on hand to provide information.
“They have been a great help,” said John Raid, 57, waiting with his wife and grandson.
The family 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 kilometers (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.
‘So much time worrying’
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.
“We’re getting told so many different stories,” said Mary Care, 50, who was traveling 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 traveling 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.
Image: AFP / JAIME REINA Passengers of British travel group Thomas Cook queue at Son Sant Joan airport in Palma de Majorca, Spain