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A travel agent who had more than 100 clients stranded by the storm on Monday said the experience demonstrated the value of booking rail packages with an operator.
Trains, flights, ferries and cruises were affected when winds of up to 99mph hit parts of England and Wales. Heathrow cancelled 137 flights, and Gatwick cancelled six.
Westoe Travel in South Shields, Tyne and Wear, had more than 100 customers booked with Superbreak, including two large groups, who were unable to travel home by train from London to Newcastle due to storm damage.
Superbreak organised for all customers on rail packages to stay another night in London at its expense, and Westoe Travel rebooked train seats for Tuesday.
Graeme Brett, co-owner of Westoe Travel, said the trade came into its own.
He said: “Before the storm we contacted customers to tell them rail timetables had changed and on Monday we were contacting the rail companies and Superbreak and texting customers with hourly updates.”
The agency had to change departure dates for 12 clients due to travel to London that day, but had more than 100 stuck in the capital.
“If the bookings had been hotel-only, customers would have had to pay for an extra night, but because they booked a package they were covered,” said Brett.
Superbreak national sales manager Graham Balmforth said the operator dealt with more than 200 stranded customers in London.
“We went into emergency mode. We act as the principal for people who have booked rail packages and 99% of people stayed another night,” he said.
The operator even paid for one customer to hire a car and drive from London to Inverness to avoid missing a business meeting, added Balmforth.
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