Passengers stranded in Romania after plane hits ‘flock of birds’

Passengers forced to sleep on the floor overnight

Thursday 29 September 2022 12:02 BST
Steven Fludder, his partner, and another traveller who were among the stranded passengers
Steven Fludder, his partner, and another traveller who were among the stranded passengers (Steven Fludder)

A group of British tourists have been stranded in Romania after their Wizz Air flight “hit a flock of birds” when leaving Bulgaria.

One couple from Preston, Steve Fludder and Emma Bradley, said they were “shafted” after their journey back to the UK had to be aborted when the plane carrying about 150 passengers tried to depart the city of Varna.

Wrestling promoter Mr Fludder said he booked the 6.15am Wizz Air flight to Liverpool on Tuesday (27 September) for him and his partner as part of a package trip with Love Holidays.

He told Lancs Live: “We were about to take off, the plane nose had just lifted up a little bit and then it hits a flock of birds, not one bird, a big flock of birds and the engine burst into flames.

The group of six shared this bathroom in the ‘out-of-service’ room at the fully-booked hotel (Steven Fludder)

“There were flames coming off the back of the engine and then the brakes hit like there was no tomorrow so it was like the biggest whiplash jolt ever. It was crazy.”

After the bird strike incident, the couple and four other passengers were driven in a taxi for four-and-a-half hours to neighbouring Romania.

The group of six ended up having to share a room with only two beds. Four of them had to sleep on the floor, while a man in his 70s and another with one leg were offered the beds.

When they first got to the hotel, management told them that there were no rooms available, according to Mr Fludder.

He said: “It was only after around 11.30pm, after they watched our group crying for an hour, that the lovely manager of the hotel found us an out-of-service room. It wasn’t used, it wasn’t a nice room.

“But they still gave us that room and they gave us some food, some leftovers from the restaurant so we had some cold food.

“The night in the hotel room was horrible, I lay on the floor. I’m a big guy, I’m not really built for laying on the ground with a towel for a pillow.”

Mr Fludder added: “Everyone went at least 12 hours without food or drink, we were never offered it at all in the end. One of the older men was shaking and being sick from hunger.”

Wizz Air representatives allegedly told passengers that the next available flight to Liverpool was on 8 October, almost two weeks later, because the one on 1 October was fully booked.

Since then, they have been told that there is a chance they could be put on a flight to the UK today (29 September), Mr Fludder told The Daily Star.

He added: “They tried to bully people to fly to London, but wouldn’t cover people’s travel from London to Liverpool. You’ve got people, young couples, who can’t afford that journey and don’t know what to do.”

Mr Fludder claimed that his partner’s mental health has “absolutely crumpled” and that she’s “just worn out by anxiety” from the stress of being stranded on holiday.

A spokesperson for Love Holidays said: “We are sorry to hear of Mr Fludder’s experience after WizzAir cancelled his flight at short notice. We are in regular contact with Mr Fludder and are on hand to speak further to his airline, as required, to ensure his situation is resolved as quickly as possible.”

The Independent has contacted Wizz Air for comment.

Update (11/10/2022): Wizz Air contacted us following the publication of this article to say that the aircraft sustained minor damage and it was returned to service immediately following maintenance. They also said that there was no fire and there were no flames.

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