Singaporean tour group stranded by snowstorm in Germany

After a two-day flight delay in Germany due to a snowstorm, the tour group landed in Istanbul, where they had to go without food and water for nearly 10 hours as there were no shops or eateries within the transit area (right). With temperatures plung
The tour group had to go without food and water for nearly 10 hours while transiting in Turkey as there were no shops or eateries within the transit area.PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

Flight delays leave them sleeping on airport floors, with little food and water

A group of 26 Singaporean holidaymakers have told how they were stranded for up to five days after their flight was delayed by a snowstorm in Germany.

Some were left sleeping on airport floors, and struggled to get food or water as temperatures neared freezing, after they were hit by further delays while transiting in Turkey.

The tour group - consisting of a guide and six families - had been on a three-week Eastern Europe tour and were scheduled to fly back to Singapore from Munich via Istanbul on New Year's Eve.

However, the Turkish Airlines flight was cancelled because of a snowstorm.

 

The tour members scrambled for updates from airport staff on their first night but had little success, said brand manager Kenneth Lam, 44, one of the group members. "It was chaotic," he said. "We waited for about two hours before someone told us to check in our baggage but, some hours later, they told us to take them back."

LONG WAIT AT THE AIRPORT

It was very frustrating for all us, especially my elderly parents. The benches are definitely not designed for people to sleep on.

MR KENNETH LAM, who was in the tour group, on the ordeal they had to endure

After a night sleeping in the airport, he decided to fork out about $400 for a hotel room the following night, after they were still unable to confirm a flight out.

When the tour members were told they could fly home last Saturday, they thought their ordeal was over. But when they arrived in Istanbul at 10.30am, they had to go without food and water for nearly 10 hours as there were no shops or eateries within the transit area.

One of them managed to get sandwiches and canned drinks for the group from a member of the airport staff.

Mr Lam said that, meanwhile, his 68-year-old mother had to drink tap water so that she could take medication for her heart condition.

With temperatures plunging to 3 deg C, the group braved another night sleeping on the hard benches and floors at the Istanbul airport.

"It was very frustrating for all us, especially my elderly parents. The benches are definitely not designed for people to sleep on," he said.

Although a flight home freed up the next day, only 15 seats were available, which meant that nearly half of them had to stay behind.

The group decided that two members from each family would take the flight home and they drew lots for the other three tickets left.

Besides his mother and aunt, Mr Lam's 74-year-old father, who was the oldest in the group and suffered from diabetes and high blood pressure, was also given a seat on the Singapore Airlines flight.

They arrived in Singapore on Sunday, while the remaining 11 passengers were placed on a flight the following morning, arriving on Tuesday. Yet, all arrived without their baggage.

The group, who booked their trip with CS Travel, managed to retrieve their baggage only on Wednesday night.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 08, 2016, with the headline 'S'porean tour group stranded by snowstorm'. Print Edition | Subscribe