A HAMPSHIRE couple have told how they missed a long-awaited family reunion after their “holiday of a lifetime” turned into a nightmare.

Electrician Anton Van Der Hoven, 52, his wife Val, 57, and their two children arrived in South Africa three days late after being hit by a series of delays, diversions and cancellations.

During their ordeal their luggage went missing and they were split up after being allocated rooms in different parts of a hotel.

At one point they were booked on a flight to Angola – only to be refused access to the plane because they had not been given yellow fever vaccinations.

Now the family from Pilley, near Lymington, have received a £2,120 pay-out from their airline, which it described it as a “goodwill gesture”.

They were due to fly from London Heathrow to Frankfurt and then on to South Africa. But the Lufthansa plane was diverted because of bad weather and landed in Cologne, where they spent the night sleeping on airport benches.

After being taken to Frankfurt the next day the family were reunited with their missing luggage but were allocated hotel rooms on different floors.

They were then booked on a flight to Luanda – but that would have meant waiting nine hours at the airport for a connecting flight to Johannesburg.

Val said: “I was told that the only (other) way to get to Johannesburg was via Angola.

“Just before the flight we were denied boarding because we didn’t have yellow fever vaccinations. They’re imperative if you’re travelling from Angola into South Africa, but neither the airline nor airport staff had told us.

“We wasted another day of our holiday, waiting for a flight we could never board.

“We were eventually rebooked via Istanbul with Lufthansa, and onwards to Johannesburg with Turkish Airways, and given another hotel voucher for another night’s stay in Frankfurt.

“Because of all the delays and cancellations we missed a family reunion in Johannesburg.

“This was the children’s first visit to South Africa since they were babies and our ‘trip of a lifetime’ was intended not only to show them their father’s country but also to meet relatives they hadn’t seen for years.”

Lufthansa told the family they were not entitled to a refund because the first leg of their journey had been disrupted by bad weather. But it has now given them a pay-out of £530 each as “a goodwill gesture and not part of any compensation”.

Lufthansa added: “We do everything in our power to maintain flight schedules and avoid waiting times for our passengers.

“Occasionally factors outside our control, such as adverse weather, may cause delays.”