Families who had forked out over £2,000 flying to Lapland to see Santa said they had Christmas “ruined” after bad weather meant they didn’t even make it off the plane.
After travelling 2,800miles and landing on Finnish soil, passengers waited on board for updates on whether the visit would go ahead – before children were told “Santa is too busy to see you”.
Heartbroken families were then told the plane would be returning straight to Birmingham.
While families accepted that nothing could be done about the bad weather, they accused the organisers of the trip of “poor communication”.
The flight, on Wednesday, was supposed to fly from Birmingham to Enonteki Airport, which is close to a Santa attraction.
The flight diverted to Kittil Airport which is 143km away from the attraction. Passengers then learned they were not even going to disembark before returning to the UK.
A member of the crew is said to have told them: “Santa is too busy to see you, but I’m sure your parents will be making up for it on Christmas morning.”
Passengers have been promised full refunds but still feel Christmas was ruined. The trip was organised by Canterbury Travel, based in Northwood, London, while Jet2 were responsible for the flights.
Sara Taylor, from Manchester, paid £1800 to travel to Lapland with her husband and children aged eight and ten.
She has slammed the “complete lack of communication” throughout the trip.
She said: “It was so many mess ups basically, they were all blaming each other.
“They actually said it’s like there were too many cooks, but it’s no good when you’ve got 200 people sat on a plane, mainly children.”
She added: “When we were diverted we weren’t even told which airport we were going to.
“My ten year old was more understanding, but there were younger children on there who just couldn’t comprehend it. They were just looking out onto snow they couldn’t even get out on.
A spokesman for Canterbury Travel said: “We are desperately sorry and apologise profusely to all our clients who missed out on their dream trip which sadly turned into an ordeal due to unexpected weather conditions.