A couple dreaming of a TUI holiday in Madeira were left furious after making a wasted 200 mile round trip to Manchester Airport as they were told when they arrived that their trip had been cancelled.

Laura Sanders, from Curdworth, and James Caulfield, from Erdington, only had a McDonald's to show for the tiring journey last Sunday, when they should have been starting an idyllic break in Madeira, reported Birmingham Live.

They booked the £1,175 trip with TUI on May 19 after Portugal was confirmed to be on the government’s green list, and they decided to carry on with their trip, despite the Portuguese island being switched to amber in June.

They had received an email from TUI on June 7 confirming their booking was still going ahead, while offering them the chance to change their holiday date.

Laura and James were hoping to be in Madeira now enjoying the sun (


Laura Sanders/BPM Media)

The pair set off on Sunday unaware their flight was no longer operating and their booked accommodation had been taken by someone else.

Laura, a journalist, tweeted: “So I’ve just essentially done a round trip from Birmingham to Manchester to grab a Maccies at a motorway services.

“Why? Because TUI UK cancelled our holiday and neglected to tell us the flight we went to catch today hasn’t existed for weeks. Angry is an understatement.”

Laura told Birmingham Live: “We were absolutely devastated. We were so looking forward to it.

“I was in tears all afternoon. James was annoyed and angry. It’s horrible.

“I love travelling and haven’t been able to do it for over a year. We had a trip of a lifetime planned to Peru last summer which we had to cancel.

Laura and James were both still happy to go on the trip to Madeira as they could self-isolate when they got home (



“This year we wanted to play it safe, pick a country in Europe and go on a package holiday because of what’s happening and this happened.”

The 26-year-old continued: “TUI had confirmed it was still going ahead on June 7 even though Portugal was now on the amber list.

“We travelled to Manchester Airport for the 2pm flight and then people at the door of the airport said ‘your flight is not on our list’. We were early and rang up TUI and it turns out they had stopped doing that trip from Manchester and didn’t tell us.

“They said they tried to call my boyfriend, James, on Friday. But he didn’t have a missed call. He was at work and you’d try again, don’t you?

“We’d travelled all the way to Manchester and all we had was a McDonald’s at services. We just feel neglected and forgotten about.”

The couple decided to go ahead with the trip as both work from home and could self-isolate.

TUI said they had tried to contact James but where unable to do so but they are refunding the cost of the trip (



Laura claimed: “The TUI representative my boyfriend spoke to wasn’t really apologetic.

“We’d booked to go Sunday to Sunday from Manchester as it fitted with my work dates but there was a flight Monday to Monday from Birmingham.

“We said if the flight isn’t going out here, can we get a flight later or somewhere else? But they said our hotel was full. So the room had been given away before."

The duo had left their home at 9.30am and arrived back at 2.30pm – a five-hour trip for nothing. And despite being given a refund they are hundreds out of pocket having paid for two enhanced PCR tests package for £90 each, parking for a week, and fuel to get there and back again.

TUI UK said it cancelled the holiday on Friday (June 18) and tried to contact Mr Caulfield.

A TUI UKspokesperson said: “We're very sorry we had to cancel Mr Caulfield’s holiday at such short notice. We tried to contact him straight away, but were unfortunately unable to reach him on the number provided.

“Mr Caulfield has already received a full refund for the cost of his holiday and will be reimbursed for testing costs. We have offered our sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused.”

The company also told BirminghamLive it would reimburse the car parking cost "if it is non-refundable".