A Sheffield civil servant and his partner were among the last Britons to return from Sharm el-Sheikh in a journey plagued by fear as events in Egypt, Paris, and Gatwick Airport unfolded.
The 30-year-old, who wishes to remain anonymous, flew to the resort town in Egypt just three days after a Russian passenger flight departing from Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport crashed, killing all 224 people on board.
The UK government issued a ban on flights in and out of the region just one day after he arrived, but he assumed the situation would clear up by the time he was scheduled to return to Manchester Airport on November 14.
Instead, his flight was cancelled and the journey home hung in the balance as thousands of stranded tourists in Egypt tried to return home before air traffic to the UK was suspended on Tuesday, November 17.
After making several calls to Easyjet, he said: “I was told we had got one of the few remaining seats and were lucky! Otherwise it would have been the final flight out of Sharm on Tuesday.”
Passengers were advised to arrive at the airport four hours in advance and the man went through two searches, baggage and security checks along with passport control.
The terrorist attacks that occurred in Paris the night before did not help allay the passengers’ fears. He said: “Everyone was panicking due to what happened in Paris. It’s all people were talking about in the airport.
“I was just keen to get on the plane and go, knowing we had a near six-hour flight plus travelling from Gatwick to Sheffield.
“It was an even worse atmosphere on the plane as we heard about Gatwick being evacuated due to a security threat there in the morning.”
The north terminal at Gatwick was evacuated for six hours after a French man sparked a security alert and was charged with the possession of an air rifle and knife.
The Sheffield resident returned home on Sunday morning after a taxi, paid for by Easyjet, racked up more than £500 travelling from Gatwick.
Despite the long journey, he vowed to return to Sharm El-Sheikh, saying the people there were ‘fantastic’. He added: “I will carry on as usual. If you don’t the terrorists are winning.”