Scottish holidaymakers escape Egypt airport chaos

British Embassy staff help UK tourists at Sharm el-Sheikh airport. Photograph: AP
British Embassy staff help UK tourists at Sharm el-Sheikh airport. Photograph: AP
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SCOTTISH holidaymakers spoke yesterday of their relief at escaping the “chaos” of Sharm el-Sheikh airport after being stranded in Egypt.

There was cheering “like the Hampden roar” when they realised they would be finally able to board a plane.

The UK government said some 1,500 people returned to the UK yesterday, a similar number to Friday, after ministers lifted their suspension of flights over security fears following the crash of a Russian aircraft on 31 October.

Yesterday’s flights included a Thomas Cook plane to Gatwick carrying 220 passengers.

EasyJet, Monarch, British Airways and Thomson were also due to fly passengers to Manchester, Gatwick, Bristol and Luton.

A UK government spokesman urged holidaymakers to stay at their resort until a flight home had been confirmed, and said the situation remained “fluid”.

He said: “With a limited number of flights able to leave Sharm el-Sheikh each day for the UK, it is likely that tour operators or airlines will advise some people to extend their stay at their resort.

“We understand that tour operators and airlines are working to ensure that where people need to extend their stay at their resort necessary costs will be covered.”

Brian Shaw, who was on a Thomson Airways flight to Glasgow, said: “Nobody knew what they were doing. The security was traumatic.

“We didn’t even know what was going on today until we were on the plane. The flight was supposed to leave at 5.30pm and we never left until 8pm, and that was us just sitting waiting.”

Fellow passenger Angela Downs, 44, said: “We left our hotel and waited in the airport for hours the other day to then be taken to a different hotel, so we’re just happy to get back.

“The resorts feel fine, but the airport is chaos.”

Malcolm and Carol Foster said the arrival of the Thomson pilots and cabin crew at the airport on Friday was cheered like a Scottish football crowd.

She said: “When the Thomson crew for the Glasgow flight walked through there was an almighty cheer. It was like someone was here to rescue us.”

Her husband added: “It was like the Hampden roar going up as they walked through. People were delighted just to get a plane.”

The couple said they were shocked by the security at the airport and felt they were being rushed through to get people on the small number of planes.

He said: “They put men and women into different security crews. I ended up with my wife’s passport – I gave her mine by mistake – but we were still waved through. They weren’t bothered.

“It’s chaos at the airport. They’re bringing busloads of people in and they’re just crowding round and round, and then they say ‘That flight’s cancelled – away back to your hotel’.”

Another woman said the experience was an “absolute nightmare” and “so disorganised”.

She said: “It started out as a great holiday but ended up as a disaster.”

The UK government suspended UK flights last Wednesday, four days after the Russian crash which killed 224 people.

It has been reported that British spies uncovered an Islamic State bomb plot in the region following the disaster.

Prime Minister David Cameron has said it was “more likely than not” the aircraft was brought down in a terrorist attack.

The head of the Egyptian team investigating the crash said yesterday a noise was heard in the last second of the cockpit voice recording. Analysis is underway to identify its nature.

Ayman el-Muqadem said the way the debris was scattered over a wide area indicated the Airbus plane broke up in midair.