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UK and Northern Ireland holiday-makers stranded in Egypt face lengthy wait

Published 07/11/2015

A passenger is handed bread and milk as she arrives at Luton Airport following her easyJet flight from Sharm el-Sheikh
A passenger is handed bread and milk as she arrives at Luton Airport following her easyJet flight from Sharm el-Sheikh

Many British holiday-makers stranded in Sharm el-Sheikh over the Egypt security alert are resigned to a lengthy wait.

Emma Beeney, who has been in the sun-soaked resort with her young children for 10 days, said they were due to fly back to Birmingham Airport today but she was not optimistic.

She also described witnessing "officials" at the airport offering newly-arrived tourists the chance to skip the passport control queue for £20 a head.

The Government suspended air links to the Red Sea resort on Wednesday after a Russian plane crashed last weekend, killing 224 people.

Ms Beeney, 45, from Ely in Cambridgeshire, said: "There's a few places on a couple of flights going out today but they're giving priority to people with disabilities and young children. I have registered but I don't think we'll be going."

She added: "I'm not even going to the airport. I'm not going to take my kids into that chaos. There's no point queuing up and checking in."

She added the mood among guests at her hotel, the St George, was "relaxed" and that information from the airlines had now started getting through to guests and passengers, via text message and notice boards.

"I think it's going to be Monday or Tuesday before we get out," added Ms Beeney.

The marketing manager said airline Monarch, which had a flight due to touch down in Birmingham later, has been asking passengers to move to the four-star Continental Plaza hotel.

However, the mother-of-two said other guests at her hotel have been returning from the Continental Plaza complaining the food was "inedible".

"I've spoken to the 24-hour Monarch helpline in London this morning and they were saying that people are getting to the Continental and expecting it to match their five-star hotels.

"They were saying 'we're giving people a meal and soft drinks', but not free alcohol. I think I will go there because we're a bit bored here now."

Ms Beeney, on holiday with her nine-year-old daughter Ruby and son Joseph, 10, said the family were taking things in their stride.

"My 10-year-old understands and he's a bit worried, but Ruby is OK.

"We were stuck in Singapore for eight days due to an ash cloud so this hasn't really been bothering either of them too much."

She also backed the Government's decision to temporarily suspend British flights saying it was "right to act" if there was intelligence of an increased security risk.

"I think if there's intelligence that something could happen then they're quite right to act and I'd rather be stopping a few days on than being put at risk," she said.

On arrival at Sharm el-Sheikh's airport, she said men she assumed to be Egyptian "officials" were approaching queues of arriving tourists at passport control offering them the chance to skip the queue for £20 each.

"It didn't look like something dodgy, at all," she added. "They were coming along the queue and then moving on to the next person along. I didn't see if anyone took them up on it."

She went on: "It could be something official, but it could be some possibly corrupt employee - who knows, if you're getting an average wage of £1 a day."

Ms Beeney also criticised the "over-dramatising" response of some tourists to the crisis.

"I've been watching the news and I can't understand some of the over-dramatising that I've seen from some passengers. Quite frankly, everyone else here at the hotel is quite relaxed."

She said staff at her hotel were "worried for their jobs", but also believed that once flight schedules returned to normal the tourist trade would return to normal levels too.

Since flights were suspended, it has been reported that British spies uncovered an Islamic State (IS) bomb plot in the region following the Russian airliner crash.

Prime Minister David Cameron said it was ''more likely than not'' the Russian aircraft was brought down in a terrorist attack.

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