A Darlington couple have hit out after paying more than £1,000 for premium seats - only to be given separate places onboard.

Geoff Abel, and his wife Jackie, were disgusted to find they were sitting at the opposite ends of the cabin after paying the huge amount on their TUI flight to Mexico.

The couple, who have been offered just £85 in compensation, also said they were served a sandwich containing nuts, despite having warned the airline of Jackie's nut allergy before takeoff.

TUI has since responded to The Northern Echo, apologising to the couple and admitting their standards "fell short."

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They had booked the holiday from Newcastle Airport to Cancun, Mexico almost 18 months ago, paying £5,000 altogether, and had reserved their seats at the time.

Geoff Abel, 63, a student loans advisor, told The Echo: “When we booked we told TUI that Jackie has a nut allergy and they made an announcement asking everyone not to eat nuts when we got on the plane.

“After the meal they did an afternoon tea service and handed out sandwiches which it turns out had pesto in, and pesto contains nuts.

“Luckily Jackie didn’t eat it all because she could feel her mouth started tingling when she took a bite – she knew they’d given her something she shouldn’t have had.

“How can this happen? She was fine but it could have been much worse.

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“They’ve offered us a £15 voucher to apologise, I’m worried they don’t understand how serious it could have been.”

The potentially deadly mistake came after the couple had found they had been separated, despite having paid the extra to go premium.

He said: “When we booked we’d paid almost £1,000 extra to go premium because Jackie is quite a nervous flier, she nearly had a breakdown when she found out we’d been separated.

"We hadn't thought to check our boarding passes for the seat numbers because we knew we'd reserved seats next to each other so we only found out when we went to board the plane.

The Northern Echo: Passengers boarding a TUI plane. Picture: SARAH CALDECOTTPassengers boarding a TUI plane. Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT (Image: SARAH CALDECOTT)

“The flight attendants managed to move us so we were sat next to each other but they couldn’t explain why we’d been split up in the first place.”

Explaining that he had complained and had been offered compensation, he said they had received a total of just £85 in vouchers for the allergy error and seating mishap.

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But in response, a TUI spokesperson told The Northern Echo: “We’re very sorry about Mr and Mrs Abel’s experience onboard their TUI flight.

"Our cabin crew are highly trained to be attentive in situations such as these but unfortunately, on this occasion, our standards fell short.

“We’d like to reassure customers that this is a rare occurrence and the issue has been raised with the relevant team for crew training purposes to ensure this does not happen again.

“Our team has contacted Mr and Mrs Abel to apologise again and offer a further gesture of goodwill for the inconvenience caused.”

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