Cyprus: My Worst Ever Travel Experience

13/05/2016 Off By Emma Gray

Picture the scene… it was 2008 and it was the end of an incredible week’s holiday on the picture-perfect island of Cyprus with my mum. We’d spent the week lazing on the beach, drinking cocktails and eating some amazing meals…


On the last day of our perfect holiday my mum called to find out what time we would be picked up to go to the airport for our flight home to Glasgow. She was told that the flight company, XL Airlines, had gone into liquidation the previous day but was reassured and told alternative flight arrangements had been made and we would be picked up the next morning.

The next day we were picked up at the specified time and soon arrived at the airport. Whilst we waited to check in we spoke to some girls who were due to fly to Manchester with XL Airlines and hadn’t been given alternative flights who had been in the airport overnight. Feeling very sorry for them and thankful that we did have an alternative flight to catch we checked in and headed through to the departures lounge. Little did we know our situation was about to get a whole lot worse.

At first our flight was delayed for 4 hours. Not the end of the world we thought, at least we’ll be home soon.

Then it was delayed another 3 hours. Annoying, but not too bad.

Then it was delayed a further 11 hours. By this time it was evening and we were facing a night in Larnaca airport. If you’ve ever been to Larnaca airport pre-refurbishment you’ll understand this wasn’t an ideal situation. Row upon row of horrible steel seats were all we had to sit on and the only place to buy food was Wimpy.

With the realisation we were going to be there all night we found ourselves, along with 2 other plane loads of people who were in the same situation, we took over the upper cafe section of the airport and swapped magazines, books, chatted and did everything we could to pass the time. I even made some lovely new friends. I remember being so worried because by this time I was missing my first day at University and I even made my dad call them to tell them why!

As time passed our flight disappeared from the screen completely and we knew we were in trouble. Airport staff wouldn’t communicate anything to us and we faced another day in the airport.

Day quickly turned into night with no sign of a plane to take us home. The only help we’d had from airport staff was tickets to buy meals in the Wimpy. They wouldn’t tell us what was happening or when we would be getting home.

As our cases had been checked in and we had no luggage people were beginning to get increasingly frustrated. One poor man’s medicine was in his case which he had no access to and babies were running out of food and nappies. Some of the girls who worked in the duty free must have felt sorry for us as they brought a bag of supplies for us to freshen ourselves up.

The next morning we were told a representative would come to speak with us and everyone gathered at the edge of security waiting for them to arrive. I’m pretty sure they thought some passengers were going to be trouble as nobody ever came. A man with a video camera had been filming the scenes and I soon got a few messages from friends telling me I was on TV!

That afternoon a plane finally arrived! It was the best feeling ever knowing we had a plane to get on so we could finally get out of what had become a nightmare. It was one of the massive Airbus A380’s with an upstairs and it was big enough to fit the 3 plane loads of passengers who’d been stranded at Larnaca.

View from the plane window

As soon as that plane got in the air and everyone had sunk into the supple leather seats the entire plane fell asleep and before we knew it we were arriving home. More than 55 hours later we finally made it home, and I’ve never been happier to crawl into my bed.

Although this was my worst travel experience and it was a nightmare at the time I know it could have been a lot worse!

Have you ever had a horrible travel experience? What happened?

Emma shares all of her travel adventures, tips and advice on her two websites Emma’s Travel Tales and Emma On Board, as well as writing for a number of other online publications. She has also partnered with many large companies and tourism boards around the world.

She’s busy making memories around the world…