AN OAP spent the first night of his holiday in a recycling bin - when he was supposed to be flying to Malta to spend time with friends.
Henry Stewart was left stranded after a bungling bus driver dropped him 15 miles away from Edinburgh Airport.
Henry, 70, a Black Watch veteran and a retired master butcher, said the last connecting bus of the day to the airport had gone, and he’d left his phone at home.
So he spent the night huddled for warmth in an unlocked recycling bin, burning fish and chip wrappers for warmth on a stormy night.
Bus firm Citylink apologised for the error and booked replacement flights for him.
Henry, recently recovered from a heart attack, was making his way to Edinburgh Airport and boarded a bus to Ingliston, But the driver dropped him at Halbeath, Fife, instead.
I was supposed to be on my way to Malta but instead the driver just dumped me in the middle of a storm at HalbeathHenry Stewart
Henry found the site in darkness and soon discovered there was no connecting bus to Edinburgh until the following morning.
Uncertain of what to do, and having left his phone at home, he says he sought shelter in the place he could find – an unlocked recycling bin.
He opened a drawer and crawled inside, spending the night there in the freezing cold as near gale force winds howled around him.
Mr Stewart said he’d peered through the windows of the waiting room at vending machines filled with food.
He also told of scavenging bins for fuel to burn, grabbing fish and chip wrappers which he fought to keep lit in the strong winds until his lighter gave out.
Citylink has apologised for the error that saw him stranded and said the driver – contracted from another firm – had been interviewed and the “appropriate action taken” with regards his employers.
It also stepped in to book replacement flights and an extended overseas stay to ensure that his holiday was merely delayed, not cancelled.
Mr Stewart’s claims about his search for shelter are disputed, however, though the firm admits he disappeared from CCTV cameras for three-and-a-half hours.
Citylink said buses had come and gone during the evening without the pensioner approaching them for aid, and that there had been a service the following morning that could have taken him to the airport in time.
Mr Stewart explained that he had been confused to find himself at Halbeath and disorientated by the dark and storm and said Citylink’s suggestion that he should have approached a disembarking passenger and begged to use their phone had simply not crossed his mind.
The pensioner, a retired master butcher, also claimed he’d already been told by the first driver he approached that none of the busses stopping during the remainder of the evening could take him to his destination.
He said: “I was supposed to be on my way to spend the festive period with friends in Malta but instead the driver just dumped me in the middle of a storm at Halbeath.
“It was freezing cold and the whole place was in total darkness.
“The strap on my holdall broke, wrapped around my ankle and tripped me up. I had a cut on my nose and thought I’d broken it.
“The wind was horrendous. The trees were bending like they were rubber and the wind was tearing through the covered stance.
“I went round the back to get out of the wind, found an open bin and crawled inside to wait out the night.
“That’s how it happened. Why on earth would someone make that up?”
He said that despite enjoying his holiday the entire incident had left him with a sour taste and he is considering further action.
A spokeswoman for Scottish Citylink said: “We are very sorry for the difficulties Mr Stewart experienced on his journey to the airport.
“This was due to an error made by a driver who was employed by a third party company which was operating on our behalf.
“We have raised the matter with the company involved and made clear our disappointment at the situation faced by Mr Stewart.
“We are pleased to have been able to make arrangements for Mr Stewart to enjoy an extended trip to Malta.”