A BRITISH holidaymaker has described the moment air passengers clubbed together to make a collection for Thomas Cook cabin crew flying to Cardiff from Mallorca last Saturday.

Flight number ZT1445, which took off at 11.40am from Palma de Mallorca Airport, was the ‘last flight home’ for many stewards and stewardesses following the collapse of the iconic British brand this month.

“One thing that really came out is that the spirit of the Blitz is still alive and well and the British can be lovely in the face of adversity,” Caroline Rixon, 60, told the Olive Press.

“Some of the staff have worked for the company for up to 44 years, but their attitude was incredible.

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BIG FAMILY: This air steward on board the flight from Palma de Mallorca had worked for Thomas Cook for 16 years

“They didn’t care if they weren’t being paid, they just wanted to bring their loyal customers home. 

“How lovely is that?

“We started off a collection with the paper cups that everyone had in their seat pocket.

“As it went around the plane, the cups just kept filling up with money.

“Staff were so touched by everyone’s kindness and kind words, which had some in tears.

“There might not have been any food but nothing was too much trouble – it was like flying back with a big family.”

‘FINAL FLIGHT’: The moment flight ZT1445 touched down in Cardiff

Caroline had flown to Mallorca with partner Keith the previous Saturday, September 21, before Thomas Cook went into administration last Monday, September 23.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), undertaking the biggest peacetime repatriation, put Caroline and Keith on a flight with Titan Air on the same Saturday they were due to fly out.

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HOME SAFE: Caroline and partner Keith were flown home the same day booked for their return with Thomas Cook before its collapse

It comes as the CAA’s Operation Matterhorn has seen more than 100 aircraft chartered to take home an estimated 150,000 British tourists oversees when Thomas Cook collapsed.

More than two-thirds of tourists – 106,000 – were repatriated in the first week following the travel company’s liquidation.

An estimated 94% of people flew back on the original days of their cancelled Thomas Cook flights, according to the CAA.

The operation will continue until Sunday 6 October with nearly 1,000 flights planned in total.

Richard Moriarty, Chief Executive at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “We are pleased with the first week of Operation Matterhorn, but as we start the second week of our flying programme we remain firmly focused on the enormity of the challenge we still have to deliver.  

“We have returned over one hundred thousand people to the UK, but there are still over 43,000 people on holiday abroad due to return on or before 6 October. 

“The scale and complexity of this operation will inevitably cause some inconvenience and disruption and I would like to thank holidaymakers for bearing with us.”

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