Mum’s ‘heartbreaking’ night at Gatwick amid drone chaos
Sarah Garghan-Watson and her family group of nine arrived at Gatwick expecting to fly to Lanzarote for a sun-kissed Christmas.
Instead they were stranded for around 24 hours, eventually taking off on Friday morning after rogue drones grounded flights.
She made a video diary as her three children (two aged five and one aged 10) were forced to sleep under the stairs in the terminal.
Her two parents, both in their 80s, are shown trying to get some rest in their wheelchairs.
We first heard from Ms Garghan-Watson via a WhatsApp message at 1.45pm on Thursday, by which time she had already been there for nearly six hours.
She said: "Stuck at Gatwick departure. Flight MT1002. Lanzarote.
"First family holiday as a group of 9 with 3 kids all irritated at lack of info. Not even giving out water! I don't believe a few drones are responsible for all this chaos!"
At 10pm, she began her diary by filming the makeshift bed for her three children under the staircase.
She said they had received little or no help from airport officials, who only sent one email apologising and were unable to provide blankets when the terminal became cold.
Their tour operator, Thomas Cook, gave them some prepaid £10 vouchers to spend on whatever they might – but shops said they were blank and turned them away.
Three hours later, at 1am, she filmed one of her children awake in his sleeping bag who said he could not sleep because it was "too bright and too loud".
She complained about how there were "plenty of staff" but "nobody has even asked us if we want any water, anything at all".
At 2am, looking tired and weary, Ms Garghan-Watson made her final entry, saying the terminal was still "very bright, very noisy and also very cold".
"I have asked if there is anywhere to get blankets from, but apparently not. You can't buy them and there is nowhere you can borrow them from. So it's still very frustrating here at Gatwick."
At around 4am, she said she could "feel the tension rising again" in the terminal.
"It is honestly heartbreaking when your child tells you they're cold, and you can't warm them, buy or borrow a blanket from anywhere. Massive sense of mum guilt, I feel so useless we are stuck here."
More from Gatwick
More than a hundred thousand Christmas travellers were affected by the airport's closure, in what was the biggest disruption at Gatwick for years
The origin of the drones, which were first spotted on Wednesday evening, is still unknown.