A mum has revealed how her worst nightmare became a reality when she landed in the UK to discover her autistic son was still in Crete.
Nicola Purdy and her children, Jack, 24, Alex, 12, and Darcie, 11, travelled to the Greek island on May 28, before making their way back to Wales on June 4.
When the family arrived at Heraklion Airport to travel home, Jack took ill and began vomiting on the plane. He was taken away to be seen by a doctor and Ms Purdy says she was told he would be put on the plane in priority seating.
On boarding the plane, she noticed he wasn’t in his assigned seat but believed he must be sitting further down the front of the plane. But, it wasn’t until the family were collecting their luggage in Cardiff airport they realised Jack, who has autism, was missing.
She told Wales Online:
I found the night duty manager at Cardiff airport and in the end I had to contact the police and the British Consolate. Eventually we found out he was still in Heraklion Airport. I could not believe it.
To make matters worse, Nicola still had Jack’s passport, money and wallet in the UK, meaning he had no way of contacting his family.
It was awful. What must have been going through his mind? He must have been thinking we had all abandoned him. He had no means of communication with anyone and was in another country.
It would have been awful for this to happen to someone more vulnerable or younger than Jack. I thought he was safe and was on the flight. It had never happened to me before. Why would I not assume he was on the flight?
I posted what happened online and I have had some trolls saying, ‘Why did you not look that your son was on board?’ but why would I after what I was told?
Jack had been taken to hospital and then returned to the Greek airport, where a TUI manager was waiting for him.
I spoke to the British Consolate and they got him on the next available flight the next day, accompanied by someone from TUI and he was then put in a taxi home to Swansea.
He was tearful. When he got home he was still not well at all.
It’s awful what has happened to my son. I felt completely out of control of the situation. It was such an awful experience.
I believe TUI should compensate us and ensure it does not happen to anybody else.
I am livid. This caused so much distress to all of us, especially my youngest children, who were inconsolable.
A TUI UK spokesman told the publication:
We are sorry to hear that Mrs Purdy’s son was taken ill in the airport lounge before his flight.
Once we were made aware that he had returned from hospital and was still at the airport we fully supported them by arranging both a flight back to the UK and onward travel home, covering the entire cost.
We were in direct contact with Mrs Purdy to keep her updated with the situation and have tried to make further contact following their return to the UK.
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Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining the LADbible Group team in 2017.