Family with baby twins say they slept in the airport and got only a KitKat and chips to eat after a technical problem nuked UK air travel

  • Katrina Harrison hoped to fly with her family to Antalya in Turkey, according to PA Media.

  • A technical glitch in the UK's air traffic control system left them stranded overnight at an airport.

  • She said they were left "absolutely freezing" and with poor provisions.

A family traveling with one-year-old twins said they were only given a KitKat, chips, and a bottle of water while spending the night at a "freezing" airport after their flight was canceled.

Katrina Harrison had been hoping to fly with her family to Antalya in Turkey over the weekend but was instead stranded at Leeds Bradford Airport in the UK after a technical glitch disrupted Britain's air traffic control system.

"All the shops sold out of food and drink last night," she told PA Media, in a story further reported by The Telegraph.

"We weren't given a blanket, we've been absolutely freezing."

"We were given a bottle of water, a KitKat and a packet of crisps but no proper food. Apparently some people have got vouchers but we haven't been given any."

UK airlines are obliged to feed and accommodate people in cases of serious delays, but in practice the help can be hard to come by.

Harrison said there were no hotels available, and that she was unable to get her vehicle car out of the car park, according to the report.

"We haven't slept, we tried to sleep on the floor but couldn't," she added. "Luckily the children could sleep in the pram."

She said the holiday had cost the family more than $15,000, yet they had been "treated like muck."

"We're hoping to get on a flight tonight but if it doesn't happen tonight we'll have to go home. We can't keep sitting here with the babies," she said, according to PA Media.

Hundreds of flights to and from the UK faced delays Monday after the country's air traffic control operator suffered a technical glitch.

Britain's National Air Traffic Service (NATS) told Insider it had "applied traffic flow restrictions to maintain safety" after a "technical issue" affected its flight-planning system.

The issue broke the system's ability to automatically process flight plans, meaning that they had to be processed manually "which cannot be done at the same volume, hence the requirement for traffic flow restrictions," it said.

The result was canceled and delayed flights, chaos at airports, and uncertainty for many who had taken trips abroad over the UK's long weekend.

Hundreds of people turned to TikTok to document their arduous journeys home, including Krys Moson. He was expecting to be on a 2-hour flight from Rimini in Italy back to London on Monday, but was told his flight had been canceled before he even got to the airport.

Moson was told by his airline, Ryanair, that he could either wait until Friday for another flight, or take a series of coaches back to the UK, totaling 36 hours. As he had to be home to get back to work, he chose the latter.

"I'm still a bit skeptical when this all the air traffic stuff's going to clear up," he told Insider. "So I figured if I was doing it by land, at least that's not going to affect my journey."

Another passenger, Emily Kataraina told Insider on Tuesday that she was stuck in Nice, France, after a long weekend trip. She said she was at a hotel near the airport thanks to a canceled flight. Many others hadn't been so lucky, she said, with one woman she met saying she had been stuck on a stationary airplane for four hours.

Kataraina and her family made it to the gate, she said, but was told the flight to London was delayed by 8 hours. Then it was canceled altogether.

"It was all just a bit of a disorganized mess," she said.

Another traveler, who just goes by his first name Jake on social media, told Insider his flight back to London from Tenerife, Spain, where he had visited for his brother's bachelor party, was delayed from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. while already on the plane.

A short while later, they were told it had been moved up to 7:30 p.m., but nobody was allowed off the plane.

But at 3 p.m., they were then told the plane needed a new captain as the current one had already worked 10 hours and was entitled to a nine-hour break.

Jake said he and the fellow passengers were on the stationary plane for five hours in total. He posted a TikTok, showing that the flight attendants had opened the doors "as it was hot."

"I just didn't say anything and sat in the sun as it was something nice to do," he said.

Jake said the flight attendants were "amazing" on the delayed flight, and the subsequent flight he was rebooked on, but communication from the airline, Ryanair, was "poor."

"On the flight back this morning Ryanair hadn't organized any food onto the plane," he said. "There was barely water."

NATS said in an update Monday afternoon that it had "identified and remedied" the problem and was working closely with airlines and airports to manage the affected flights. It apologized for the disruption and said that passengers should check the status of their flight with their airline, it added.

It is still unclear what caused the technical glitch, however, the UK government has ruled out a cyber attack.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said it will take "some days to get completely everybody to where they should be" after thousands of people were left stranded by the technical glitch.

"The last time there was something this significant was about a decade ago," Mr Harper told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Tuesday morning.

Leeds Bradford Airport did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

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