Storm strands Dutch tourists on Canary Islands

Several hundred tourists, including a number of Dutch, have been stranded on the Canary Islands of Lanzarote and Fuereventura since Tuesday. Persistent bad weather in Lanzarote meant that their TUI flight could go no further than Feurteventura, AD reports.

According to TUI, 173 passengers are involved. Their flight to Lanzarote left from Schiphol on Tuesday, but due to bad weather they had to spend the night on the neighboring island.

Vera Vandenberghe, 23, was on that flight with her 52 year old mother and 79 year old grandmother. Their journey started with the TUI flight being delayed. "Once underwy the trip to Lanzarote went well until we flew circles above the island due to bad weather. We could not land. When the fuel almost ran out, we flew to Fuerteventura", she said to AD on Wednesday.

Once landed they were stuck in the airplane for several hours. "There we were, without being told exactly what was going on. We already had nothing to drink or eat for several hours. Some travelers had an argument because it started to smell like poo. There was a couple with a baby, who needed to be changed. The cabin crew would not allow that to happen in the toilet, so it had to be done on an airplane, with all travelers around." Vera said to the newspaper. 

They ended sharing a hotel room with strangers on Tuesday night. Wednesday they were faced with a choice. "For 18 euros per person, we could take the ferry to Lanzarote. TUI, however, told us that in that case we would lose our right to the return flight. We did not take that risk, so we too the bus back to the airport." They were still there on Wednesday night.

A spokesperson for TUI told AD that it is "very exceptional" that this is taking so long. "It involves storms, storm and poor visibility. It's extremely annoying for passengers, but safety is simply above all." She added that the passengers aren't being left to their fate - they are given free meals and taken to hotels so that they don't have to spend the night at the airport. She is also confused by the claim that passengers were told they would lose their return flight if they travel further on their own initiative, by ferry for example. "But we don't recommend it because the weather is also too bd for a safe crossing over water. That is why we do not offer this option for our customers ourselves."

A new attempt to fly to Lanzarote will be made on Thursday.