Passengers had their journeys cancelled and were left on planes for several hours after Manchester Airport had to close both of its runways on Saturday morning because of snowfall.
One runway remained closed at the travel hub on Saturday afternoon, after both had to close for almost four hours on Saturday morning due to “heavy snowfall”.
Many passengers complained on Twitter that the situation had left them stranded on planes for several hours, including Daniel Jones, a student from Ormskirk, Lancashire.
The 22-year-old arrived at Manchester Airport at 5am on Saturday for a 7.55am flight to Oslo, Norway, where he was hoping to have a two-day break – but over 10 hours later he was still at the airport in a queue awaiting a refund for the flight.
Mr Jones said passengers on the Ryanair plane were told a minute before departure, at 7.54am, that their flight would be delayed due to the weather conditions.
“We were told they’ve blocked the runway so won’t be leaving for another two hours at least,” he told the PA news agency.
Having boarded half an hour before their departure time, Mr Jones said passengers were then left on the plane for until 9.30am before being asked to disembark and return to the terminal to await a new flight – which at that point they were told would still be going ahead.
“They said we’ll get you to where you’re going, yours is going ahead … then at about 12 they started announcing flights were cancelled,” he said.
“Now here we are in this queue – they’ve got two people on the desk and there’s probably over 100 people waiting.”
Mr Jones said his Ryanair journey cost him just £15, and he was told at the desk he would be able to apply online for a refund for the cost of his hostel in Oslo and his return flight to Manchester.
Mr Jones, who passed the time on his 10-hour wait by speaking to other passengers and playing cards, said the airport should have been better prepared for the weather conditions.
Mr Jones and his friend Joe Green, a 21-year-old student from Preston, met Amber Hewitt, a 22-year-old student from Bury, on board and after hours of chatting posed for a photo with her in front of their flight after they disembarked.
“The weather didn’t seem that extreme, we were flying to Oslo where it’s much colder and I’m guessing flights are still going there,” he said.
“I don’t know what the situation is with Ryanair, I hope we get a refund but there is no option for an alternative flight.”
The student said his plans for the evening were to return home to watch England play France in the World Cup.
“I might need to get some energy drink as I’m falling asleep now,” he added.
A Manchester Airport spokesperson said: “In anticipation of adverse weather forecast for this weekend, snow-clearing teams have been on site since Friday.
“Both runways were fully cleared and treated ahead of this morning’s first scheduled flight.
“Health and safety is our top priority and when snow on the airfield reaches a particular depth, it must be cleared before operations can continue.
“Once this morning’s flying programme was under way, there was a fresh period of heavy snowfall, which required further clearing to take place.
“The decision was therefore made to temporarily close airfield operations from 07.45 to 11.30 whilst clearing could take place to return to safe levels.
“We apologise to all affected passengers for any inconvenience and thank them for their patience.”
Ryanair said in a statement: “Due to snowy weather conditions in the UK, we are experiencing a small number of delays/cancellations to our flights from Liverpool and Manchester Airports today.
“While our teams are working hard to minimise disruption to customers, Ryanair advises all customers flying from the UK today to check the Ryanair website/app for flight status updates before travelling to the airport.
“We sincerely apologise for these weather-related disruptions which are entirely beyond our control.”
Lisa Webb, a consumer law expert with Which?, said: “If your flight is cancelled due to snow, you will be entitled to a refund or rebooking, including with other carriers if necessary.
“However, you are unlikely to be owed additional compensation as extreme weather is considered an extraordinary circumstance, outside of the airline’s control.”