Eamonn Holmes calls travel chaos a ‘mess’
Joan Alderson, 95, traveled to Florence, Italy, with her son Robert, as it is a destination she frequented often with her late husband. Robert, however, said the problems started even before their outbound flight left the runway at Manchester Airport.
According to Robert, the pair were prevented from boarding their first KLM flight to Manchester on June 25 because it was “overbooked”, meaning they missed their first night of the trip. The couple were then made to sit and wait at the door for a taxi which eventually arrived two hours later to take them to a hotel in Altrincham overnight.
After a few days away, they then missed their flight back to Paris because airport staff could not afford to help the pensioner get off the plane in time.
In an ordeal Robert described as ‘horrendous’, his mother’s personal wheelchair also got ‘lost in transit’ on the way home and recounted how the pensioner was forced to get up and remove her coat in Paris – although she never even left the airport to catch their connecting flight.
Joan, who is going blind, told the Manchester Evening News“It was absolutely awful. I still wake up in the middle of the night thinking I’m in Florence and having nightmares about it. I can’t get over it.”
Her son Robert added: “Since my dad died I’ve taken my mum to Italy because it’s a place we love very much. She’s very old and frail and won’t be going anymore – so it was almost like our swan song, and it was really important for us to go there.
Joan Alderson’s last vacation to Florence, where she once traveled with her late husband, has been ruined
“We left home and got to the airport on time, but were told the flight was full and we were on hold. People in the queue were allowed to board the plane. “
It was two hours later that a taxi arrived, booked by KLM Airlines, to take the couple to the Cresta Court Hotel in Altrincham for the night, before they were then put on a new flight on next morning, June 26. They didn’t arrive in Florence until late at night, meaning Joan spent most of her first day in bed with ‘extreme fatigue’ and ‘back pain’.
“We were desperate to get out of the airport,” Robert continued. “I thought my mother was going to have a stroke at that time. It was horrible. I couldn’t believe the airline’s attitude towards someone so old and disabled.”
After the trip, another disaster struck on the return trip.
The couple originally booked tickets on an Air France-KLM flight from Florence on June 30, with a one-hour connection at a Paris airport. However, Robert says it then took Paris staff an hour to help him and Joan, in a wheelchair, off the plane, which had already begun to be cleaned by staff in time for the next flight. Despite the best efforts of a member of staff who tried to rush them to the next gate in time, they had missed the plane back to Manchester.
Joan was still waiting to get off the plane in Paris as staff cleaned around her
He says Air France office staff then put the pair up in a nearby hotel overnight. However, as he left the airport, he took a video of his mum being searched, where he claims she was asked to stand up and had to take off her coat – despite not only crossed the airport.
Paris airport did not respond to a request for comment on Robert’s claims about the delay in helping Joan get off the plane or her mother having to remove her coat at security when she had not left the airport.
Robert said: “When we got to the gate it was deserted. There was no one around. My mother, who can be very frail, is always as alert as a 20-year-old. But during that time, it was almost as if she was suffering from dementia. She was getting confused and was so exhausted it was heartbreaking to watch.
Joan added: “We had gone to the departure gate and saw our plane take off. So I was transported for hours from floor to floor to the check-in counters. I am going blind and At this point I had I had no idea where I was or what was going on I got myself into a good state I was exhausted, tired, in tears It was absolutely appalling I have never experienced anything like it.
Joan was looking forward to her last trip to Florence
After a night at the Yotel hotel, the weary couple boarded a flight home the next morning. After finally landing in Manchester, Robert was informed that Joan’s personal wheelchair, which she uses to get around daily, had ‘lost in transit’. He returned safely to the country a few days later.
“It was all horrible. It was absolute hell,” he continued. “The holiday was completely ruined by this experience, made worse by the fact that she spent our entire first day in bed because she was so tired and sick.
“During this trip, which was to be so happy and my mother’s last farewell to Florence, it was a total nightmare. The worst thing is that my mother who is fragile, 92% blind and has a lot of problems of health, was so excited about this trip, ended her day with excessive pain, worry and sadness.”
Looking back on the trip, Joan added: “It meant I didn’t enjoy the trip. I’m 95 and I love Florence, it’s my favorite city in the world. It was a surprise trip, at the in case I’m not But all this week I was in a daze and I kept bursting into tears, it was horrible.
“It took my head off in such a world that I didn’t know if I was going to come or go. It ruined the holiday.”
Robert and Joan waiting at the Air France counter in Paris
After the trip, Robert says he has now been offered compensation for all flights, as well as a refund for Joan’s airfare. They were offered a £470 travel voucher and also told the airline would “exceptionally consider” the first night’s accommodation in Italy which they had missed.
A spokesperson for KLM and Air France said: “On behalf of both airlines, I can confirm that the customer has been contacted today and has been offered a refund in addition to compensation for the issues that surrounded his trip Mr. Alderson now has an email confirmation from I hope we can now consider this matter resolved.
“The client has been compensated in accordance with EU regulations and an additional gesture of goodwill has been made given the general circumstances. All agreed amounts for compensation and reimbursement have been communicated directly to the client.”