December 20, 2010 / 4:08 PM / 8 years ago

Heathrow travellers tell Christmas tales of woe

LONDON (Reuters) - Angry Christmas travellers, stranded by snow and ice at London’s Heathrow, criticised airline and airport officials on Monday for failing to keep them informed and leaving them to sleep in terminal buildings.

A girl sits on her bag as she waits for her flight at Edinburgh Airport, Scotland December 20, 2010. REUTERS/David Moir (BRITAIN - Tags: TRANSPORT POLITICS ENVIRONMENT TRAVEL)

Student Michael McGouldrich-Secilia, a 24-year-old from Pittsburgh, had been stuck at Heathrow since Saturday after snow forced the cancellation of his flight to Toronto in Canada.

“I was at terminal three for the last two nights. All I had was a mat and one of those silver insulator things (foil blankets),” he said.

“No one will give me any information,” he added, lying on a yellow plastic temporary bed covered by a blanket and clothes.

The airport was closed over the weekend after a snowstorm grounded flights. Only one of two runways was operating on Monday, adding to the frustration of travellers trying to get away for Christmas holidays.

The airport, operated by Spanish-owned BAA FER1.MC, told passengers not to turn up at terminals one and three because of overcrowding on Monday.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said he understood travellers’ frustration.

“Whilst people are obviously deeply upset about the inconvenience, particularly at this time of year, at having their travel plans disrupted, most of what I am hearing is a sense of outrage about the way they were then treated when they were stranded at Heathrow Airport,” he told the BBC.

Brandi Gonzalez, 27, a pre-school teacher from Connecticut, had been due to fly to JFK in New York on Friday with her husband and young son but had not been able to get a flight.

Sitting on the floor in the lobby of the Renaissance hotel close to Heathrow, next to her son in a pushchair, she said: “It’s a two-hour wait on the phone to rebook a flight. Today when I called to rebook I sat on the phone for two hours to get hung up on.

“They said: ‘We still don’t have another flight out of here’ and I got hung up on.”

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