In an unfolding tale of holiday horror, a British couple, Mark Ellis, 50, and Donna Ellis, 46, have recounted their harrowing ordeal of evacuating from their hotel on the island of Rhodes, Greece, due to a raging inferno. They further claim that the travel company they booked through, Jet2, demonstrated a dismissive attitude, with no contingency plans to aid them during the crisis.
The setting of their distressing saga began on the 18th of July, 2023, when the couple embarked on their holiday trip to Rhodes, entailing a package from Jet2 at a cost of nearly £2,000. The prevailing temperatures were known to them, but they had no inkling of the catastrophe that awaited them on the fateful evening of 29th July, when they witnessed flames in the distance.
The abruptness of the situation hit them when a blaring alert sounded on their phones, urging them to evacuate to the main road in Pefkos, where a bus would be available to transport them to safety. This notification, they learned, originated from the Greek Government. The sight of flames in the mountains was indeed cause for concern, prompting Mark Ellis to seek reassurance from the hotel’s manager. However, despite the manager’s reassurances that the danger was distant, the couple chose not to take chances, wisely packing up their belongings and joining scores of other bewildered tourists at the designated rendezvous point.
In the midst of uncertainty and chaos, the evacuated vacationers found themselves in a state of disarray as no representatives from tourism companies were on hand to provide guidance or support. Disbelief and anger swept through the crowd, as they grappled with the lack of assistance. As fate would have it, the Ellis couple ended up in a local primary school, their temporary shelter for the night. Yet, a glimmer of humanity emerged from the locals, who extended a helping hand, offering sustenance, water, and essential supplies. The gestures of kindness were awe-inspiring.
Amid the uncertainty, the stranded tourists remained clueless about their next steps, uncertain if they would be stranded for days or if escape was imminent. It was an utterly bewildering experience that tested their resilience.
A subsequent message the following morning declared it safe to return to the resort, corroborated by the hotel manager. The immediate danger seemed to have subsided, but the aftermath left them shaken and disillusioned. Their ordeal didn’t end there, as a disheartening conversation with a Jet2 representative on the 23rd of July further compounded their distress. Allegedly met with laughter and an admission of being ill-equipped to handle such unprecedented events, the couple found solace in the warmth and camaraderie of fellow vacationers.
Despite the ash and smoke that still lingered in the air, the couple decided to make the most of their vacation. However, the memories of the lackluster response from tourism companies continued to taint their holiday experience. Reports of around 45,000 people stranded at the airport awaiting flights home only amplified the sense of disappointment.
In the midst of this turmoil, the Ellis couple expressed gratitude for the mutual support among fellow vacationers, forging a sense of community in adversity. While the surroundings may have been marred by the recent disaster, they found solace in each other’s company.
Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, in response to the situation, announced four repatriation flights from Rhodes to bring back affected customers to the UK. The company’s decision to cancel all flights and holidays to Rhodes further aimed to ease the burden on the island’s infrastructure and provide customers with reassurance. Communication with affected customers regarding refunds and re-bookings was also initiated, accompanied by arrangements for ground transportation.
In their official statement, Jet2.com and Jet2holidays emphasized their commitment to prioritizing customer welfare and the ongoing review of their measures to serve their clientele in the best possible manner.