So here’s the thing. My partner and I separated after 22 years and I wanted to take our teenage children on holiday without him to signal the new order. I decided it was l be the opposite of our usual family holidays, which in the past have involved, for example, six weeks travelling independently in China, , and wild camping in the Caucasus. So for the first time in my life I booked a package. I went through Olympic Holidays, and chose Crete, It was only a week, we had a self-catering apartment, we could all relax. I planned one overnight trip by public bus to a gorge. It helps that I speak Greek. As an act of charity I invited my recently widowed mother.

Sara Wheeler Crete

We were surprised to learn that the carrier was Small Planet, an airline of which we had never heard. Arriving at Gatwick in plenty of time, by small and slow increments we learned that the flight was delayed – by 30 hours, as it turned out. One hears plenty of stories of poor communication in the travel industry, but this would win awards. Nobody knew anything and as a result they told us nothing. At about eight on the first night a poor employee with custard- coloured hair tried to marshal us into hotels, knowing so little that he appealed to the herd, ‘Does anyone know their way around this airport?’

We had a night in the Holiday Inn and were told to present ourselves in the foyer at 6.45 am.

It was by this stage unsurprising to us that no representative of Small Planet or Olympic appeared in the morning. At nine my group decided to go independently to the airport, on the grounds that we might get thrown a crumb of information.

There a rep told us we might leave at midnight. Morale was low. My elder son rang Olympic. They said we could have a full refund, and put that in writing via email. So we got the Thameslink back to Hampstead. Teenagers pleased as they wanted to resume their social life. Mother relieved as she is a nervous traveller and had been freaked out by the experience and felt unwilling to entrust her life to Small Planet. Me upset.