Heathrow honeymoon

A NEWLY-WED couple who spent the first two nights of their honeymoon at Heathrow airport instead of the island paradise of St Lucia are today recovering from their ordeal.

A NEWLY-WED couple who spent the first two nights of their honeymoon at Heathrow airport instead of the island paradise of St Lucia are today recovering from their ordeal.

Instead of basking in the warm Carribean winds drifting across plains of white sand, Victoria and Gavin Hammond were stuck in an airport hotel sniffing the aroma burnt aviation fuel.

Mrs Hammond, 25, of Reading Road, Ipswich, said: "We lost two days of our honeymoon and we felt absolutely disgusted. It was more upsetting then anything as you only get to do a honeymoon once."

The couple's flight to St Lucia was a much longer-haul than they had bargained for thanks to a faulty part – on the aircraft that is.

When the Ipswich love-birds arrived at Heathrow airport they expected to be sunbathing on some sandy tropical beach in the Caribbean eight hours later, but two days on they had still not left the airport.

"Gavin was furious and he only kept calm because I was with him."

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The fiasco began three days after the wedding at St Mary's Le Stoke Church, in Ipswich, on April 17.

A friend drove the couple to Heathrow in plenty of time for their 11.25am flight to Hewanorra airport.

However, once in the departure lounge they discovered that the British West Indian Airlines (BWIA) flight was delayed.

Mrs Hammond said: "The boards kept giving new departure times until at 3pm we were told that the flight would not be leaving until 8am the next day. They put us up in a Travel Inn for the night."

The passengers were left without even the most basic toiletries as they had checked-in their luggage and were told that to retrieve it would delay the flight even further when it was ready to take-off.

Mrs Hammond said: "The hotel were really good. They tried to get us what we needed but we still felt awful as we didn't even have toothbrushes."

"Some of those that needed medication or had children with them demanded their cases back, but as a result their bags never made it to St Lucia."

The following day the flight was moved time and time again as the passengers were left standing about listening to all the excuses for not jetting off.

Mrs Hammond said: "We were told that the aircraft needed fixing and that they had the wrong part but they would try to use it anyway. Everyone was absolutely furious we thought this was dangerous and we did not trust them."

After many complaints the airline ordered the correct part from two different countries in the hope of getting one very soon. In the meantime the holiday-makers just had to wait.

At one point the couple thought about going home as the tour company, Kuoni, told them they would get a full refund if got a letter from the BWIA representative confirming the delay.

But the rep said he could not write a letter as he had no office, so the newly-weds decided to go anyway as they didn't want to gamble missing out on both the money and the holiday.

After another nights sleep in the Travel Inn the couple finally headed off at 7.30am the next morning.

But even this flight was nearly an hour later than its scheduled time.

Mrs Hammond added: "I would never recommend flying with BWAI, in fact we named them 'better waiting in the airport'."

Have you had similar travel fiascoes? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk