A Game of Thrones actress and a couple due to be married tomorrow are among those caught up in the Gatwick chaos following flight disruption caused by drones.
Gemma Whelan, who plays Yara Greyjoy in the HBO fantasy drama TV series, was hoping to leave the London airport for a warm break over Christmas in Tenerife.
But the 37-year-old star from Leeds posted a picture of her sat in a car on Instagram with a baby seat and luggage this afternoon – saying her trip had been cancelled.
She wrote: ‘Meant to be in Tenerife right now on a holiday of lovely relaxing dreams but alas…we are sitting in a car park just outside the M25. Holiday cancelled #gatwickdrone #majorbummer.’
Meanwhile bride-to-be Tayo Abraham and her partner Ope Odedine were due to fly to Marrakesh in Morocco on Wednesday alongside nine family and friends.
Gemma Whelan, who plays Yara Greyjoy in Game of Thrones, was hoping to enjoy a warm break over Christmas in Tenerife – but her trip has been cancelled due to the disruption
Bride-to-be Tayo Abraham (centre) surrounded yesterday by her friends in the wedding party, at Gatwick Airport who were due to fly to Marrakesh in Morocco but face more uncertainty
This shows where passengers heading for Gatwick have been diverted since 9pm Wednesday
The group – hoping to attend the wedding tomorrow – boarded the Air Arabia flight, due to depart at 8.40pm, and were kept onboard ‘in the dark’ until 2am.
Gatwick’s runway only reopened at 6am today having been shut since Wednesday night due to devices flying over it, with chief executive officer Stewart Wingate saying they were designed to ‘close the airport and bring maximum disruption’.
Thousands of families faced heartache as the chaos at Gatwick left holiday plans in ruins. Children wept as they learned their flights were cancelled, and plans for family reunions were abandoned, just days before Christmas.
Whelan, who was hoping to visit Tenerife, plays Yara Greyjoy in Game of Thrones
Some were left in limbo, waiting for hours at the packed airport to learn if their flights would finally go ahead.
Tempers frayed as stranded passengers crammed into every available space, and berated airline staff for the lack of any updates.
Miss Abraham, 31, a contractor from Glasgow, said: ‘It’s been a year that we’ve been planning this, we can’t start rearranging the wedding.
‘It’s sad because it’s Christmas time and people are trying to get to loved ones.
‘Everything has been disrupted but aside from the cost it’s the emotional side, the trauma.’
The group, including a four-year-old and a one-year-old, booked a hotel for the night after passengers were told to return to the airport at 11am yesterday.
Following another day of disruption, Ms Abraham and her fiance then booked an alternative flight from Manchester Airport for this morning at a cost of over £1,000.
She said they may have to ‘trim’ back on guests as the additional cost of rebooking flights was too high for everyone to pay.
She said: ‘Most of the guests are there already. We have to be there. I just want to get there and get this over with, but it will be disappointing for everyone that isn’t able to travel.’
Passengers wait to check in at Gatwick Airport this morning as the disruption continues
The couple are due to fly back on December 26, with other members due to return to the UK on Sunday.
‘I’m facing a lonely Christmas in Canada’
Cameron, who has been trying to get home from Toronto to Croydon in South London, is stranded in Canada – and admitted he was looking at a ‘lonely Christmas’.
Cameron has been trying to get home from Toronto to Croydon in South London
He told ITV’s This Morning: ‘My cousin’s just had a baby, so I came out to visit and I’m just trying to get home to Christmas.
‘I tried to fly out last night at about 9.30pm and my flight got cancelled at about midnight and I had to come back to an empty house because everyone’s gone home for Christmas.
‘I’ve got to ring today at 9am, but I still don’t know whether I’m going to get on a flight.’
Ms Abraham’s uncle Baba Sanwo, from San Diego, flew into Heathrow from the US on Tuesday in anticipation of Wednesday’s flight, hoping to travel as a family.
The 63-year-old said he had been sat on the floor of Gatwick for over five hours.
He said: ‘I’m uncomfortable, cold and hungry. What if there are people on medication, what if there was a wedding today?’
Stella Phillips, the bride-to-be’s aunt, from London, said: ‘There’s no information. Gatwick have been fine but they don’t have any information for you, they say go to your airline.’
The 41-year-old said the group paid £300 for the hotel on Wednesday and they are unsure whether they can recover the costs.
Mrs Phillips said: ‘This kind of thing can be avoided. You’re saying you’re trying to prevent loss of life, but you know it’s a drone.
‘Couldn’t they have brought the military in ages ago? It might take another 24 hours for them to do what they want to do.’
Meanwhile Becky Barker had been looking forward to a ‘dream’ Christmas to Lapland with her two daughters, aged eight and ten, for nearly a year.
She told ITV’s This Morning: ‘We got to the airport yesterday, we checked in for our flight, we were very excited walking through the duty free shops singing along to the Christmas carols.
Andy Ravenscroft with children Anders and Erica as the chaos at Gatwick Airport continues
‘Then we were greeted with a message on the display board saying ‘go to the airline desk’ and we were very sadly told that we wouldn’t actually be going on our dream trip to Lapland.
Family trip to Lapland ruined by a drone
Natalie Carsey had hoped to take Immy and Patrick to Lapland
Finance director Natalie Carsey, 43, had saved up all year to take her children Patrick, nine, and Immy, seven, on a day trip to see Father Christmas in Lapland.
Mrs Carsey, from Hertfordshire, said: ‘We had saved all year, and waited all year, for this. My daughter Immy has been crying since finding out.
‘I’ve been ringing around desperately trying to find another holiday but they’re all booked. The travel agents are going to try to give us a full refund but it’s very disappointing.
‘We’re heartbroken. Seeing Immy cry has made me tearful.’ Angry father Rob Threadgold was at the airport to take his two young sons on another ‘Santa flight’ to Lapland.
He tweeted: ‘To whoever is doing this at Gatwick. I wish you could see my kids right now and the devastation you have caused.’
‘It really was meant to be a magical trip. We’ve been counting down since January to go. So quite a massive disappointment to say the least.’
She added: ‘I have to say they’ve been very mature about it and realised there are many families in much worse situations trying to get back to their families.
‘We hope perhaps we might get the opportunity to do something in a couple of days or maybe next year.’
A production assistant has been left ‘traumatised’ after a cancelled flight means he will miss his uncle’s wedding.
Garron Akushie-Stevens said he now faces paying at least double the price of his original ticket to make it to Accra in Ghana.
The 26-year-old said airline TAP Portugal did not tell him and his three friends their flight was cancelled until they arrived at the airport this morning.
The group said they were handed a selection pack of chocolate bars by staff, which ‘added insult to injury’.
Mr Akushie-Stevens was due to attend his uncle’s wedding on December 24, but has been told the earliest available flight is on Christmas Day.
‘I’m highly disappointed. He is a very close uncle to me,’ he said.
‘It’s unacceptable. I feel disheartened. I feel traumatised by this experience. I feel let down. I feel as though I have been thrown to the wolves.’
Mr Akushie-Stevens criticised the airline for the lack of information and accused it of ‘taking advantage’ of the situation by only offering to cover the price of the original ticket.
He and his friends, who were planning a three-week trip, said they will have to cover the cost of more expensive tickets, which are on sale for up to £3,000.
‘I have a wedding, I have to see my family members, my grandma – she’s quite ill,’ he said. ‘They have thrown us to the wolves. I can’t go to see my grandma, I can’t go to the wedding. It’s unacceptable. It’s deplorable.’
Meanwhile Gisele Fenech, 43, who was travelling to Malta, was among those stranded at the airport yesterday.
‘We’re meeting family and it’s my daughter’s birthday today so it’s gone all wrong. We’ve been looking forward to this for so long,’ she told AFP. ‘Everyone’s trying to get home for Christmas.’
Musab Rashid, 22, who was going to Copenhagen, said: ‘It’s wrong, it’s childish of them to do this, because it’s affected more than 100,000 people.’
Ronald Diaper, 53, was due to fly to Antigua to join his family for the festive period yesterday morning, but will now have to travel on Christmas Day.
‘It’s sad. I have got loads of Christmas presents in my case. I have got my brother-in-law’s golf clubs with me,’ he said. Mr Diaper said it was ‘complete mayhem’ when he arrived at Gatwick.
‘As soon as I walked in the door I knew there was a problem.
Robert and Susan Pocknell only moved 20ft despite queuing for almost four hours at Gatwick
‘There were people sitting on the floor,’ he said. ‘Drones have been around long enough, so to cause that problem… I’m surprised there’s nothing in place.
Mother-of-two’s tears as Christmas in her homeland is cancelled
Mother Liliana Cabrera broke down as she learned her flight to take her sons to visit their grandparents in Colombia had been cancelled.
The 41-year-old had planned a three-week trip to Bogota with Isaac, six, and Leonardo, five, and had five suitcases filled with Christmas presents for her family.
The museum worker from Greenwich, South East London, arrived at the airport at 3.45am only to find her 10am flight was cancelled.
Liliana Cabrera with sons Isaac, six, and Leonardo, five, at Gatwick Airport
Another flight was announced for 2pm but when the family went to the gate, as directed, they were simply given their luggage back.
‘I don’t want to cry but we just wanted to see my family at Christmas,’ she said.
‘Now we’re waiting to see what we have to do next. We’re hoping somehow we can still get to Colombia. [Staff have] said, ‘You need to go home.’ Our cases are full of Christmas presents for my parents and brother and sister.’
‘It’s taken them two days to get it. To still be affecting things in the early hours of this morning seems ridiculous.’
Ryan Prendergast, 27, missed a job interview in Guernsey. He arrived at Gatwick around 7.30am hoping to make the appointment at 1pm, but found his flight had been cancelled.
Mr Prendegast, from Deal, in Kent, said: ‘I contacted the company. They seemed okay. It’s just out of my control.
‘It’s gutting. I was really looking forward to the opportunity and here I am now waiting to get a train home.’
Meanwhile Andrew and Siv Ravenscroft were on their way to a Christmas family reunion in Norway with children Anders, 12, and nine-year-old Erica.
The family had flown from their home in Jersey to Gatwick on Wednesday night to catch a flight to Oslo, but their first flight was diverted to Stansted, where their plane was kept on the tarmac for three hours.
They paid £180 for a taxi from Stansted to Gatwick, only to find that their next flight from Gatwick to Oslo had been cancelled.
In desperation, the family spent another £1,000 for four tickets from Heathrow on a flight today.
Mr Ravenscroft, 50, said: ‘When we landed at Stansted we were stuck on the tarmac for three hours. People were shouting, saying they just wanted to get off.
‘We were told there would be three coaches to get us to Gatwick, but there was nothing. We had to pay £180 for a taxi.
‘We finally arrived at 3.30am for a 9am flight. They let us check our bags in so we thought we were travelling, then they called us to the gate and gave them back.
‘We’ve now paid £1,000 for four one-way tickets to Norway for Friday morning from Heathrow. We’re worried there will be a knock-on effect at other airports and we might not even make it.’
Workers carry Cadbury selection boxes to be handed out to travellers at Gatwick this morning
Elf toys in a box, which will be handed out to travellers at London Gatwick Airport today
He added: ‘The drone is really worrying. Anything could have been dropped on the runway. It’s no wonder they take it so seriously.’
Off to Birmingham after Toronto flight cancelled
Mother Pam Noakes was waiting to take her young children to spend Christmas with their grandparents in Canada.
The mother-of-two was due to fly from Gatwick to Toronto, but was told at the airport that the flight would be leaving from Birmingham instead.
Pam Noakes and her children, aged five and two, pictured stranded at Gatwick Airport
Mrs Noakes, whose children are aged five and two, said: ‘They’re apparently putting on a coach to Birmingham.
‘It should be leaving soon, because everyone has been told to get their suitcases checked in. It would have been my children’s first Christmas in Canada with their grandparents. We’ll have to see if we actually get there.’
Pensioners Robert and Susan Pocknell were due to fly to Spain for Christmas.
They arrived at Gatwick shortly before 4am but were greeted by scenes of chaos, and had to join a massive queue to try to change flights.
After queuing for almost four hours, the couple from Hillingdon, West London, had moved barely 20ft in the queue, which stretched around the south terminal.
Mr Pocknell, 78, said: ‘Everybody was arguing. There was no organisation whatsoever. No one even showed us where this queue was, we had to find it ourselves.
‘We’re going on a package holiday so I’m worried if we don’t get to Malaga before Sunday we’ll lose our room and won’t have a hotel to stay in. I just want a refund and a new flight.
‘We haven’t even been offered any vouchers to get a bottle of water. It’s a shambles.’
His 70-year-old wife added: ‘We’re British, so we just have to smile and get on with it. I’m more peeved that I might have to go home and cook.’
Meanwhile British air passengers stranded around the world are facing a scramble to get home for Christmas as the shockwaves from Gatwick’s drone chaos spread around the globe.
Passengers stranded last night at Gatwick Airport, which only reopened at 6am this morning
The closure of Britain’s second busiest airport for more than 30 hours yesterday due to a rogue drone pilot saw scores of flights cancelled and many passengers left in limbo after being diverted to other terminals in Europe.
Those trapped in foreign airports spoke of being forced to sleep on floors and visa complications as the knock-on effects hit other terminals.
Worse still, the huge backlog of flights now waiting to fly into Gatwick means many people stuck abroad face a nervous wait to see if they’ll get home for the holidays.
Many are having to fork out for alternative flights, often hopping around the globe in a bid to eventually return to Britain.
British air passengers have been left stranded around the world due to Gatwick’s rogue drone
Others are now stuck in terminals around Europe after their flights were diverted in mid-air
Among those stranded abroad are 27 schoolgirls from the Bruton School in Somerset. They were due to be back with their families last night, but had to stay on in Innsbruck, Austria following a ski trip.
Teachers are hoping they can get on a flight today to return to their anxious parents.
More than 120,000 passengers were unable to either take off or land at the airport from 9pm on Wednesday and throughout Thursday.
A further 126,000 passengers were due to travel today, but 145 out of the scheduled 837 flights have already been cancelled as aircraft are out of position and the airport’s operations are restricted to just a few departures and arrivals per hour.
Holidaymakers who went on pre-Christmas breaks to the Caribbean face long delays in getting back.
How to make a claim if you are affected by Gatwick disruption
Travel insurance customers affected by the Gatwick chaos will be able to make claims for the disruption they have suffered – if this is part of their policy – insurers have said.
But the ABI said the first point of contact for consumers should be the airlines, who have a duty of care to look after their customers ‘regardless of the exceptional circumstances’.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority said on Thursday the events at Gatwick are considered an ‘extraordinary circumstance’.
In such circumstances airlines are not obliged to pay financial compensation to passengers affected by the disruption.
But airlines do still generally have a duty of care to customers, which could include giving refunds for cancelled flights, putting people on alternative flights and providing refreshments for those affected by delays, the ABI said.
It made the comments after Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said he would be talking to the insurance industry to make sure claims are treated reasonably.
Mark Shepherd, head of general insurance policy at the ABI, said: ‘Where customers have bought travel insurance which includes cover for disruption they will be able to claim in the usual way.
‘This cover typically refunds the cost of things like missed accommodation or car hire overseas.
‘The first point of contact for anyone caught up in the Gatwick incident should be the airlines, who have a duty of care to look after their customers and help them make alternative arrangements regardless of the exceptional circumstances.’
The ABI said that, where people have bought travel disruption cover as part of their insurance, they are covered up to the limits stated in the policy for travel disruption.
It said this is generally included within most travel insurance policies, including those bought through packaged bank accounts.
However, travel insurance policies come with different levels of coverage. Some will not include travel disruption but it is generally available as an add-on.
Disruption cover typically refunds the cost of other losses caused by travel delays, such as car hire, accommodation and other travel tickets that customers have not been able to use.
It may also cover reasonable additional costs caused by delays, such as emergency accommodation – once what is on offer from the transport provider has been exhausted.
The ABI said, generally, there is a provision the purchaser must show they have not been able to get compensation from their airline, travel provider or accommodation provider before making an insurance claim.
It said this is to stop people being compensated twice and to prevent airlines absolving themselves of their responsibilities under the law.
Meanwhile, insurer Axa said it had seen a 50% uplift in calls regarding travel cover on Thursday.
A spokeswoman for Axa said: ‘We continue to monitor the situation, providing information and assistance to our policyholders.
‘People affected by the drone disruption should seek reimbursement of accommodation costs during the delay from the airline or, if they didn’t travel, a refund of their airfare.’
Some are now flying to New York, before transferring on flights to Europe and then getting Eurostar trains to London, with some journeys planned over three days.
Londoner Jennifer, who is stuck in Jamaica, tweeted Gatwick bosses saying: ‘I would like to get home for Christmas, but I’m stranded abroad at the moment. Is there any chance you could shoot the drones down?’
Dan Walters, from Wales, posted online: ‘Flight from Antigua to Gatwick cancelled this evening. Now having to fly to New York tomorrow and then on to Heathrow.’
However, he saw the funny side, joking: ‘There are worse places to be stranded though..’
Jon Carles and his partner are stuck in Lanzarote. Speaking yesterday, he told MailOnline: ‘We were supposed to be to flying back to Gatwick today with EasyJet, but no one knows what’s going on here and what’s going to happen.
‘Managed to get through to easyJet after 45 minutes on hold and they told us to wait until 6pm and see what happens. And if gets cancelled we can’t get a flight back with them for 48hours.’
One flyer hoping to reach London had to land in Paris – where he was told that he’d be diverted back to the UK on a bus. Others paid for hotels in the French capital out of their own pockets after failing to get information from their airlines.
Corinne Roberts said that her parents-in-law were stuck in a departure lounge in Brussels as their visa don’t allow them to enter the country beyond that point.
Joseph Ouechen, a photographer from Morocco, was due to fly into Gatwick on Wednesday night but had his flight diverted to Paris.
After arriving at Charles de Gaulle Airport at midnight, passengers with visas for the Schengen area were taken to a hotel but those without – ‘about 20 per cent’ – were left in the airport to fend for themselves, he said.
‘There were families with babies who couldn’t get to their suitcases for their milk and stuff,’ he said. ‘We were asking just for a favour if (airport staff) could help but they said they couldn’t do anything.’
Firefighters eventually crossed the border through passport control with blankets and water at 3.30am, he said.
‘To be honest, I’m so tired and when the guys from the fire (service) came with the bottles and blankets I was feeling like a war, like (I was) a refugee, but I’m just flying to the UK.
‘It’s surreal. I was flying to the UK and now there are firemen bringing me water and blankets.’
Those who didn’t find themselves stuck abroad had to land more than 100 miles from their destination once they made their way back to the UK.
Chris Lister, from Somerset, who owns an online business, was travelling back from Kiev with his wife Freya.
He was due to land at Gatwick at 9.45pm yesterday but ended up trapped on the plane on the tarmac at Birmingham Airport until 6am.
‘There were quite a few babies and kids on board, I think they were struggling more than we were and one woman had run out milk,’ he said.
After starting his journey in Bangkok on Tuesday he was finally let off the plane at 6am, he said.
Gareth Jones praised easyJet’s response to the chaos, telling MailOnline: ‘My son was due to fly home from Salzburg this morning on an Easyjet flight that was obviously cancelled.
‘They have transferred him to the same flight tomorrow and put him up in a four-star hotel, with meals, overnight.
Police are pictured at Gatwick’s police station roof yesterday as they use equipment in the ongoing task to stop the drone unleashing chaos in Sussex
‘Fortunately, he has no work commitments or time issues so it’s not a bad deal at the end of the day. easyJet get some bad press but this is good service on their part.’
Sally Gardiner, who is in Nice, France, said: ‘The problems caused by this malicious person extend way beyond Gatwick. My son was to join me in Nice today for a break before Christmas.
‘I don’t see him very often so my disappointment is immense.
‘I have also paid in advance for his accommodation.
‘I have French friends who were due to fly from Nice to Gatwick tomorrow for connecting flight to USA to spend Christmas with families there. The knock on effect is massive.’
Timeline: How the drone chaos at Gatwick Airport has unfolded
After a drone caused chaos for tens of thousands of passengers at Gatwick Airport, we look at how the events have unfolded so far:
9pm – Gatwick suspends flights in and out of the airport after reports of two drones flying near the airfield. Some planes are diverted to other airports.
3am – The runway reopens
3.45am – The runway shuts again after a further report of drone sightings
10.20am – Sussex Police reveal the flying of drones close to the airfield is ‘a deliberate act to disrupt the airport’, but ‘there are absolutely no indications to suggest this is terror related’
12.20pm – The airport’s chief operating officer Chris Woodroofe says around 110,000 passengers are due to travel on Thursday, most of whom will see cancellations and disruptions.
3.50pm – The Ministry of Defence says police are in ‘ongoing discussions’ with the Army about assisting with the operation to find the drones.
5.50pm – Gatwick’s chief executive officer Stewart Wingate says the drone flights are ‘highly targeted’ and have ‘been designed to close the airport and bring maximum disruption in the run up to Christmas’.
9.30pm – Mr Woodroofe says the airport will remain closed for the rest of the evening after drone activity was reported ‘within the last hour’.
9.30pm – Detective Chief Superintendent Jason Tingley, of Sussex Police, says there have been more than 50 sightings of the device in the past 24 hours. He reveals that shooting down the drone is a ‘tactical option’ being considered by police.
5.58am – According to flight tracking website Flightradar24, a plane from East Midlands Airport lands at Gatwick.
6.30am – Gatwick Airport says the runway is ‘currently available’ and that a ‘limited number’ of planes are scheduled for departure and arrival.