Family holiday turns into 'nightmare' as they discover flight 'doesn't exist'

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Michele and Neil Travis
Michele and Neil Travis' holiday became a 'nightmare' experience (Image: Michele Travis)

A couple who spent £6,000 on journeys for a long-awaited trip to the US arrived for their connecting flight - only to discover that their booking did not exist.

Neil and Michele Travis treated themselves and 20-year-old daughter Georgia to business class seats for the trip from Manchester Airport, intending to see friends in Fort Lauderdale. They landed in New York for their connecting flight at JFK International Airport, but the journey with Aer Lingus' partner Jet Blue didn't exist.

Although there was a connecting flight leaving that evening, it was fully booked and Aer Lingus couldn't get them on another flight for two days. Michelle, an accountant, described the experience as a "nightmare from start to finish".

Family holiday turns into 'nightmare' as they discover flight 'doesn't exist' rriddqixxiqezinvMichele is pictured with her daughter Georgia in Key West, Florida, during the trip (Michele Travis)

Michele managed to find her family an American Airlines flight from Newark the following day and claims they were given assurances they would be reimbursed for the cost. This, though, was impacted by a storm as the pilot tried to land. Having waited in the hope that the storm would blow over, the pilot then announced that the plane would have to land at Palm Beach as it had "run out of fuel" - adding a further hour to their journey.

Despite finally arriving, the anxious family - from Alsager, Cheshire - couldn't shake off their fears that the exact same issues would be faced on the return home. Both Neil and Michele sought assurances from the airline, and he even went to the airport the day before they were leaving to make sure they were on the system.

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Neil was shown their names and his mind was put at rest. However, when they arrived the next day his ticket was "invalid" and his wife and daughter were not on the system, reports Stoke-on-Trent Live.

Although Jet Blue managed to sort seats for Neil and Michele, there was no tickets left for their daughter to fly. Luckily, there was a flight 40 minutes later that they were once again left with little choice but to pay for with their credit card.

The family blasted Aer Lingus for the "stress" and "anguish" they were put through and are demanding they are reimbursed for the original flights and the incurred costs amounting to around £4,000 for extra flights, taxis and food.

"It was nightmare from start to finish," said Michele. "It was like something off Fawlty Towers. We've had absolutely nothing back so far - not even a reply from them."

"My daughter was in tears when we were trying to get home. I said to them do you expect us to leave her here with no way to get home? You couldn't write it.

"We're lucky we had a credit card we could use - my daughter said to me 'what would I have done?' The stress they've caused, it's disgraceful."

Neil, who regularly travels away with work and booked through Aer Lingus because of past experience, has referred his complaint to the Civil Aviation Authority having not heard back from the airline. He said: "This whole catastrophe was an appalling start to our holiday and caused significant anguish.

"The stress and impact to my wife and daughter’s mental health ruined what should have been a fantastic experience of flying business class."

Recalling his family's experience when they arrived in New York for the connecting flight, he said: "We took the train to the Jet Blue terminal and could not see our flight on the departing flight list. We joined a queue to speak with a Jet Blue agent and after many attempts to find out what had gone wrong we were informed that the flight number we were given on the confirmation did not exist. The ticket had not been confirmed by Aer Lingus."

A spokeswoman for Aer Lingus confirmed that they "escalated" the issue to its customer relations team who "have since been in touch with the customer and resolved the issue".

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Gary Porter

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