A heartbroken family have described their disappointment after a dream New Year holiday at Disneyland Paris were left in tatters when their flight from Liverpool Airport was cancelled after they boarded.
Easyjet passengers had been taking their seats on flight 7045 to the French capital on Friday night when they were told they had to return to the airport lounge.
See also: Drunkn Easyjet passenger who caused delays fined £1000
And, speaking to the Liverpool Echo , they told how children were left in tears after staff announced the plane would not be leaving – because delays caused by bad weather meant the crew had worked over their hours.
One mum said there was a "stampede" to a customer service desk to snap up any alternative flights, but most were left disappointed.
The budget airline has apologised to passengers whose travel plans were affected.
Morgan Russell, 26, and partner Mike Arrowsmith from Buckley in North Wales, were heading to Paris on a surprise New Year holiday for children Ella-Rose, two and Jayden, seven.
She said: "The plane was delayed, which was fine, then we started to board the plane.
"People were in front of us then everybody started turning around to get off. Nobody knew what was going on.
"They said there was an issue with the pilot's hours.
"We were the last to board and I could hear one of the crew saying 'You must have known this before we boarded'."
Morgan, who works on the children's ward at the Countess of Chester hospital, said the couple had saved for more than a year to pay for the £2,000 break.
They surprised Jayden and Ella-Rose on Christmas Day, with Disney balloons and a lightbox message from Father Christmas telling them they were going to Disneyland.
She said it was left to staff back in the airport to tell passengers that their flight had been cancelled – and they were told any other flights would be filled on a "first come, first served" basis.
She added: "The lady was doing her best, but it was the worst thing she could have said.
"Everyone just started running to the service desk and I thought 'there's no chance now'. My daughter was clinging to me – it was like a stampede.
"There were no other flights from Liverpool until Tuesday. We looked at driving and there were flights from Manchester on Saturday night but it would have cost £1,800 just for that.
"We booked our hotel separately, so we've lost the money.
"Even if we get the maximum compensation from Easyjet, it will only come to 1,000 euros. They've said the weather was to blame so we don't know if our travel insurance will pay out.
"I had to stop myself from crying in front of the children. Ella-Rose is only two so she doesn't understand, but she has been asking if we're going swimming and if she'll see the princesses."
Chris Hughes, 54, from West Derby, was travelling to Disneyland Paris with wife Susan and daughters Sophie, 19, and Millie, eight.
He said: "They ushered us into a lounge and said that we could make our own alternative travel arrangements with other flights, but there were no other flights that day.
"I was dumbfounded, especially as they'd already put us on the plane. They couldn't get a back-up crew and didn't have one in place.
"There was a family from Blackpool who didn't know how they were getting back, but my son is a taxi driver and he took them home."
Mr Hughes said the only other flights he could find were from Manchester which would have meant forking out £470 for each family member.
An Easyjet spokesman told the ECHO: "Unfortunately, due to freezing fog at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport and earlier delays due to adverse weather in Amsterdam, easyJet was unable to operate flight EZY7045 from Liverpool to Paris on 30 December as its crew had exceeded their legal operating hours.
"We would like to apologise to all passengers whose plans were impacted by the cancellation."
15 flights from hell
15 flights from hell
We've heard of vomiting bugs in hotels and cruises but rarely on a plane. On a flight from Chile to Sydney in August 2013, 26 passengers became violently ill with gastroenteritis after celebrating at a festival in Brazil and picking up the bug before boarding the plane. Some of the passengers were taken to hospital once the plane landed in Sydney and the plane had to be quarantined and disinfected upon arrival. This is one flight we're really glad we weren't on as the Boeing 747-400 only had eight toilets and the group developed vomiting and diarrhoea.
When you're on a long (and pricey) trans-Atlantic flight, the one thing you don't want to happen is for the plane to run out of toilet paper. Unlucky for passengers on a United Airlines flight from London to San Francisco in June 2013, the toilets ran low on tissue after the airline forgot to restock its supply. The passengers were forced to use cocktail napkins instead of loo paper when nature called and were allegedly told to use what they had brought on board for the 10-hour flight. That's one way for an airline to find itself deep in poo!
We all hate flight delays and even a few hours can leave us peeved, but holidaymakers on a Monarch Airlines plane from Tenerife were stranded on the Canary Island for a whopping 50 hours in August 2012 when their plane suffered a fault. The crew discovered a problem with the door hatch and asked passengers to get off the plane and wait for three hours. They then spent another hour on the plane before being put up in a hotel. A replacement plane eventually flew them to Birmingham.
When a pilot accidentally locked himself in the toilet of a New York-bound flight in 2011, he ended up causing a mid-air 'terror' panic too. When a well-meaning passenger heard the pilot trying to get out of the loo, he offered to help. The pilot asked the man to go to the cockpit and inform the crew of the situation, but the co-pilot was completed spooked by the man's "thick Middle Eastern" accent and refused to let him in, calling a state of emergency. Fighter planes were alerted at the arrival airport and the co-pilot was told to "just get on the ground". When he managed to break out of the toilet the pilot assured air traffic control that there was no threat. But the FBI still waited to meet the plane when it landed and spoke to the poor passenger who just wanted to help.
If you're a non-smoker, you won't be able to think of anything worse than a smoker lighting up a cigarette next to you on a flight. Three Canadian passengers on a Sunwing flight did just that in February 2013 - even though smoking has been banned on aircrafts for more than 15 years. And what's more, they refused to put their cigarettes out and ended up diverting the flight, which was travelling from Halifax to the Dominican Republic, to Bermuda. When the plane landed, their passports were seized by police, while the other passengers continued their journey.
There are times when the pilots are up against nature and have absolutely no control over a situation, such as when lightning strikes. In January 2013, a Turkish Airlines flight carrying 114 passengers was struck by lightning. A passenger filmed the incident, which saw sparks from the plane's engine as it caught fire and the cabin lights flickering on and off. Fortunately, despite the plane catching fire mid-air, it made a safe emergency landing and no-one was injured.
One emergency landing is enough but could you handle two on one flight? That's what "terrified" passengers on a British Airways flight from Saudi Arabia to London endured in August 2013. First the plane was delayed for five hours and in the air for about 40 minutes before making an emergency landing because of a problem with the plane's wing flaps. Then the next day when the passengers boarded the same plane, the problem reoccurred and the flight was aborted a second time. Passengers were reportedly "physically sick and crying" during the landings as the plane had to circle the desert to dump around 20 tonnes of fuel to be the correct weight to land safely.
If the sound of babies crying on a flight is disruptive enough to your journey, you certainly wouldn't have enjoyed the American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to New York, which saw an "unruly" passenger repeatedly sing Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You. We've watched the video and the woman is no Whitney Houston! She ended up being handcuffed and removed from the flight - but not before putting the other passengers off Whitney's music for life!
Thought a naughty child kicking your chair was bad? In August 2013, 30 adults created the flight from hell when they ran riot on a Ryanair flight from Prestwick to Ibiza, swearing, threatening and even sexually harassing crew in front of other holidaymakers, including families with young children. The men were warned by police about their behaviour before boarding but this didn't stop their drunken rampage, which saw them shouting and jumping on the seats too.