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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 August 2005, 16:18 GMT 17:18 UK
Passengers play the waiting game
Passenger at Heathrow Terminal 4
Passengers complained of 'confusion' at Heathrow
Passengers stranded by the Heathrow industrial dispute have tried their best to keep their spirits up as British Airways' passenger backlog begins to clear.

While British Airways said it hoped to have the backlog resolved within the next few days, some stranded passengers were unhappy with the way the dispute - caused by ground staff walking out in sympathy with sacked catering workers - had affected them.

Gavin Olney, his wife Colleen and their two sons, 13-year-old Nick and Justin, nine, had been stranded at Heathrow since the dispute started on Thursday.

"We have had to go and buy clothes because all our luggage has been 'lost in the system', according to BA," said South African Mrs Olney, 38.

"When we finally leave, it will be without our luggage and we don't know when it will come.

'Stuck on tarmac'

"We chose BA because we always thought it was a good airline - now we know exactly how good it is," she said.

Her husband said: "On Thursday night we decided not to rely on BA for accommodation after all their desks shut and their staff disappeared at 10.30pm."

Angela Collier, 28, from Charleston, South Carolina in the US, told the BBC News website she had been stuck in an aircraft on the tarmac for four-and-a-half hours on Thursday - and was only meant to be in London for two hours to change flights.

"People were trying to smoke on the plane, the stewardesses were running around after people. A lot of people were being very positive, but some people weren't," she said.

Planes at Heathrow
Planes were stuck on the tarmac for more than 24 hours

Ms Collier, a medical student, was returning to the US after a holiday in India.

"It was very confusing," she said. "We were told many different things. At Heathrow, I tried to stop as many British Airways people as I could to ask them questions."

Eventually, she and many of the other affected transit passengers were moved to a central London hotel, paid for by the airline. She has been there since Thursday night.

"Initially it was chaos, then when we got to the hotel they said, 'Wait here for news.'

"I'm supposed to leave Monday night, and I'll have an overnight stay in New York, which I hadn't planned on."

Another US transit passenger, Nathan Alexander, 24, from New York, found his flight from Moscow to London diverted to Cardiff, and was then put on a coach to Heathrow.

'Cost me money'

"There was a lot of confusion," he told the BBC News website. "Nobody knew what was going on.

"Somehow through all the confusion we ended up at this hotel."

While he said British Airways had done the best they could housing people, he added: "I think the point that's been uniform for everyone is that information wasn't made available."

He said he had now been "assured" he would be put on a flight to the US on Tuesday.

Robert Franenberg, 47, bound for his home in Rotterdam in Holland, said he had to stay an extra night in New York where he had been playing a concert.

Bus at Heathrow Airport near BA airliners
Thousands of BA passengers have been stranded by the strike action

A member of the London-based Gabrieli Consort & Players, which played New York's Lincoln Centre on Thursday night, Mr Franenberg learned on Friday his flight from New York to London had been cancelled.

He arrived at Heathrow on Sunday morning and was due to leave later in the day.

"The group usually breaks even on trips like this, but BA have not given a clear indication of what we are going to get back after this. It's cost me and my colleagues money, lots of money," he said.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See how BA is getting planes back on the move



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