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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 July, 2003, 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK
Tales of travel misery
By Mick McGann
BBC News Online at Heathrow

The anger of passengers at Heathrow airport shows little sign of abating four days after a wildcat strike by British Airways staff threw their travel plans into chaos.

Thousands have been affected - among them 13-year-old Yael Leverson, who had more reason than most to feel upset.

Yael Leverson (L) with mother Jo
Teenager Yael Leverson should have been flying to see her father
She turned up on Saturday morning to catch a flight to San Francisco to see her father for the first time in more than a year, only to find scenes of "total chaos".

Her 73-year-old grandmother, Naomi, who had gone with her daughter Jo to see off her granddaughter, had little sympathy for BA.

"I'm furious, absolutely furious. This child was booked to fly unaccompanied to see her father, which is daunting enough.

"We got here in good time but it was total chaos. You couldn't move in Terminal Four with all the people.

Security fears

"I've never seen anything like it. We managed to squeeze out of the building as they closed the doors because they didn't want any more people coming in.

"Even if it was a wildcat strike, there should have been people there who were answerable to us. Those who were there didn't know what was going on."

Naomi Leverson and granddaughter Yael being interviewed on TV
Naomi Leverson vented her anger on live television

Jo Leverson, 43, said: "The disappointment that my daughter had to face was terrible.

"The other thing that I was worried about was security as people were just leaving their bags all over the place when they went to find out what was happening.

"It would have been very easy to have left a bomb in bag amid all that chaos."

The trio eventually decided to return home to Mill Hill in north London after more than five hours.

"We called BA when we got in and had to stay on the line for about an hour before we could to speak to anyone.

"They said there was no way she could fly out on Sunday, but I couldn't make it on Monday so Tuesday was the best we could do.

Passengers wait in a marquee for news of their flights
Free food and refreshments was laid on in marquees
"This has caused a lot of disruption for my family as I have a five-year-old son. I'm just glad I didn't bring him up here on Saturday.

"Today they've told us to wait out here in the marquee until the flight is called. At least they've given something to eat and drink this time."

Passengers were not the only ones expressing anger with BA's management.

One member of staff, who wished to remain anonymous, told BBC News Online that workers felt hurt and angry about the way they had been treated.

She said: "The management have been saying we don't care about the passengers and that has really hurt a lot of the staff because we do care about them.

"The staff have had a really hard time - they've even been spat on and some were shouted at outside the airport when people saw the uniforms."

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