Passengers hoping to catch an EasyJet flight to Egypt were left in tears after they were turned back from the cabin door (Picture: Getty/Julia Golovniova)

An easyJet pilot came out of a plane to tell passengers that a flight to Egypt was cancelled despite the queue having reached the cabin door.

Families were left in tears as they were turned away from the aircraft at Gatwick yesterday and told to walk back out of the connecting tunnel.

Julia Golovniova had been heading for seven nights in the Red Coast resort of Hurghada with her husband Denis and their three young children on the family’s first break after the pandemic.

She told Metro.co.uk that the flight, which had been due to take off at 12.30pm, had been delayed by an hour and 15 minutes but was still about to board passengers from the gangway.

Mrs Golovniova, 45, told Metro.co.uk the experience had been ‘devastating’ for her three children, Mia, 13, Kia, 10, and two-year-old Killian.

She said: ‘We went through where they take the boarding passes and passports and into the tunnel that takes you to the plane door.

‘We were all waiting in the queue for 15 minutes wondering why we were not getting onto the plane and then a man wearing an easyJet neck scarf came out and told us, “we’re terribly sorry but the flight is cancelled”.

Killian (l) and Kia were left disappointed after their flight to Egypt was cancelled while they were at the gate ready to fly (Picture: Getty/Julia Golovniova)

‘We walked back up the tunnel to the gate and sat down.

‘All of the people who had checked us in had left, there was nobody there. We didn’t know what was happening or why the flight had been cancelled.

‘After about 10 minutes the pilot came out and told us because the plane had been delayed the crew were over their legal flying hours if they were to fly to Hurghada and fly back again.

‘Lots of passengers were angry and shouting at him but he couldn’t tell us any more. He was apologetic but very matter-of-fact.

‘There was no customer service from easyJet at the airport so they suggested to go online and go into “manage a booking” and report the flight as cancelled.

‘It’s an utter shambles and my poor kids are just so sad.

‘We knew this might happen from the news over the last few days but desperately hoped it wouldn’t happen to us.’

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After the pilot left, the family tried to head back to passport control before they were told by a member of easyJet staff to go back to the gate, Mrs Golovniova said. They had to wait another 10 or 15 minutes before they were taken out of the airport via a route which took them through arrivals.

The entrepreneur, who runs Hopes and Wishes children’s clothing, questioned why EZY8861 was not cancelled with more notice given before the family set off from their home in Seaford, East Sussex.

‘So many people were upset, even adults were crying,’ she said.

‘People were saying they must have known at least hours before that the crew were going to go over their flight time, so they could potentially have cancelled before we got to the airport.

‘To make us go through all that and make us get right to the plane door with children who have been left devastated is unacceptable.’

EasyJet has cancelled more than 200 half-term flights from Gatwick amid huge disruption to operators’ schedules (Picture: Getty)

Passengers queue for flights at Heathrow amid nationwide disruption including hundreds of cancellations (PIcture: Ben Smith/PA)

Mrs Golovniova said she is having difficulty getting through to easyJet and On The Beach, who she booked the holiday with. The family has submitted a compensation claim form via the easyJet website but in the confusion they did not keep receipts for items they bought at the airport.

They are among thousands of travellers nationally who have been left grounded as major travel disruption continues at airports, with TUI and British Airways flights also affected.

Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, met with travel industry chiefs on Wednesday after calling on operators ‘to do their bit’ and rectify issues before the summer holidays.

Julia Golovniova is among thousands of people whose holiday plans have been ruined due to cancelled flights (Picture: Julia Golovniova)

On Friday, easyJet cancelled 240 flights in the 10 days to June 6, which the budget airline said was a pro-active move giving passengers advance notice.

The operator told passengers it was ‘very sorry’ but the step was ‘necessary to provide reliable services over this busy period’.

Customers were given the options of rebooking or claiming a refund and given details of a compensation claim form on the operator’s website.

Dozens of further cancellations have been made across the three major airlines this week. Pent-up demand during the pandemic is said to have exceeded the capacity of travel operators to cope now all Covid restrictions have been lifted in England and Wales.

The first school holidays since the laws ended and easing of testing regimes in other countries have also fuelled a surge in holiday bookings.

Staff shortages, with workers having been made redundant or changing jobs during the pandemic, have been blamed for the failure of airlines to deliver on flights and bookings.

Metro.co.uk has approached easyJet and On the Beach for comment.

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