Brits stranded by Tenerife sandstorm catch Jet2 plane home but land in Portugal

Brits stranded in Tenerife by an 'unprecedented' Saharan sandstorm finally caught their Jet2 plane home – but landed in Portugal instead.

Passengers waited two days for their delayed flight back to Birmingham after heavy dust covered the Canary Islands, obstructing visibility and forcing airports to shut.

They eventually boarded their aircraft on Tuesday but were stunned when their pilot announced they would be landing at Faro after he 'ran out of flying hours'.

One passenger told Birmingham Live they were left feeling 'like a prisoner' while another said her 'heart sank' at the news.

Travellers – including families with young children – claimed they were not given an opportunity to leave the plane as they were flown to an airport 1,600 miles from home.

They were put up in a hotel overnight and were expected to return to Birmingham yesterday – but say Jet2 had 'failed to communicate effectively'.

The airline said its teams were working 'tirelessly' to get everyone to their destination as soon as possible.

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Passenger Helen Jenner said 'it should have been a 70th birthday to remember' – but instead she ended up stranded in Portugal.

Helen told BirminghamLive: "I understand the sandstorm was out of their hands – but the communication from the Jet2 office to the ground staff is appalling.

"We should have departed on Sunday, then Monday, then we were told it would be Tuesday.

"On Tuesday, we were picked up at 1pm and taken to the airport, which was manic.

"It took two hours to check in and cases were not weighed, just tagged. In the departure lounge there was not a seat to be had and no information on the time of the flight.

"At 5pm I was starting to lose my patience – no information whatsoever. I went to the Jet2 desk where again the front line staff were at the receiving end of customers' anger.

"They did not know the situation either.

"At 7.30pm our flight was called to board from Gate 9. At 8pm we boarded, but at 8.40pm the pilot tells us 'not good news folks – we're not going to Birmingham tonight'.

"Passengers were groaning and my heart sank.

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"Due to the hours the crews had worked, they could not go for four hours – instead hotel accommodation had been arranged in Faro.

"We landed in Portugal at 10.40pm and were herded through the airport through passport control to waiting buses.

"The hotel we were put up in was a 40-minute drive away, we got there at gone midnight – food was there but who wants to eat a meal at 1am?

"This should have been a 70th birthday to remember, instead it was spoiled by Jet2's failure to communicate effectively. What are they playing at? How is this considered duty of care?"

Ruth Abbott – whose husband George was also among passengers on the same flight – hit out at Jet2.

She slammed the airline's 'shocking lack of communication' telling BirminghamLive: "George and his friend Daniel had been due to fly back on Sunday but their flight was delayed owing to the sandstorm. That was understandable and couldn't be helped.

"But since then, they have been given next-to-no information. Their flight was delayed until Tuesday, when they were eventually put on a plane and the doors shut – only for the pilot to tell them they wouldn't be returning to Birmingham as he didn't have enough 'flight hours' left.

"My husband said he felt like a prisoner on that plane. They were given no option of getting off the flight before it took off. Instead, all the passengers – which included families with young children – were taken to Portugal.

"They were put up in a five star hotel on Tuesday night – which was lovely – but the passengers' luggage was all left behind in Tenerife.

"George is without his blood pressure medication which is packed in his suitcase as he believed he'd be back in Birmingham by now.

"Their lack of communication has been shocking."

A Jet2 spokeswoman said its flight schedule had been 'significantly disrupted' following the unprecedented conditions on the Canary Islands.

"Like all airlines operating to the Canary Islands, the unprecedented conditions affecting the whole area over the weekend has resulted in significant disruption to our flying programme.

"Our teams have been working tirelessly to look after our customers and to get everyone to their intended destination as soon as possible," the spokeswoman said.

"To help deal with the backlog of flights, Tenerife Airport allowed for extra capacity yesterday, however the volume of flights resulted in delays and problems processing baggage at the airport.

"As a result, our crew did not have sufficient operating hours to fly from Tenerife to the UK due to CAA Flight Time regulations.

"We therefore took the decision to fly customers to airports where we could provide hotel accommodation for the night.

"This ensured customers had a bed, with breakfast provided in the morning, instead of spending the night at Tenerife Airport due to the lack of available hotel accommodation in Tenerife.

"We do, of course, sincerely apologise to all affected customers for any inconvenience caused by this continued disruption, which comes on the back of extraordinary circumstances that were completely beyond our control.

"Our teams are continuing to work around-the-clock so that we can get this right for our customers, including making sure that all baggage is flown back to the UK as a matter of priority.

"For the most up-to-date flight information please visit our website."

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