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.
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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."