Hundreds of British skiers have been stranded in an airport by heavy snow in the French Alps.
Holidaymakers including pop star Pixie Lott were given emergency beds, food and drink after being trapped for more than 30 hours as mountain routes to and from resorts were blocked and avalanche alerts issued.
The French Alps saw 35 inches of snow fall yesterday, according to weathertoski.co.uk.
Travellers criticised tour operators for failing to prepare for the crisis which saw families left sitting on buses for up to ten hours without a toilet.
Pixie Lott, seen here on a bed provided by the French Red Cross in Chambery Airport, after being trapped in the airport for more than 30 hours due to heavy snow. She wrote to fans on Twitter: ‘Heyyy can anybody help pick up 7 people from Chambery Airport?! Can’t find any taxi so cold!’
The singer did eventually escape the chaos and was later pictured in Val-d'Isère with fiancé Oliver Cheshire. It is not clear how she managed to get away from the airport
Scores of passengers were given beds by the French Red Cross at Chambery Airport and a nearby sports centre.
Skiers went online to complain to package firm Crystal Ski Holidays, claiming they were told nothing about when they could return home or get to their resort.
Mother-of-two Claire Nicholas, 46, said it took more than 48 hours to get from Les Arcs back home to Chippenham in Wiltshire – including an eight-hour bus trip during which passengers were stopped by the driver from using the toilet.
She said: ‘It was absolutely outrageous. It was just a fiasco.
‘The reps were way out of their depth. They didn’t know how to handle the situation.’
Chambery Airport is a small international airport near Chambéry, a commune in Savoie, France
In all 4,000 were delayed by the snow and one skier was killed in an avalanche.
Singer Miss Lott, who was travelling to Val d’Isere with Marks & Spencer model boyfriend Oliver Cheshire, appealed for help online.
She wrote to fans on Twitter: ‘Heyyy can anybody help pick up 7 people from Chambery Airport?! Can’t find any taxi so cold!’
Other travellers complained they had been promised travel but it had failed to arrive.
Beezy Marsh, a mother of two, said her family had been dumped at Chambery Airport with no coach to take them to Val Thorens.
Motorists have been installing snow chains on their car tyres as they make their way to ski resorts in the French Alps
After waiting for seven hours they spent £220 on a hotel and £500 on a taxi to the resort.
The writer, who also travelled with Crystal Ski Holidays, said: ‘It was just chaos but it was not organised chaos.
‘It is like a Third World situation. The Red Cross are there to help earthquake and disaster victims.’
Father-of-four Chris Murray, 41, said his family was supposed to fly home on Saturday from Geneva but missed their flight after a 12-hour coach journey from the resort of La Plagne.
They were eventually driven to Lyon Airport yesterday. The headmaster, from Horsham, West Sussex said: ‘[Crystal Ski Holidays] had lots of time to deal with [the forecast].’
A snow removal vehicle clears the RN90 road between Albertville and Moutiers in France
Heavy snow had been forecast to fall in the region on Saturday. Tour operator Ski Famille was among the companies to put out travel warnings on Thursday.
Crystal Ski Holidays, which is supported by the TUI group, was bombarded with complaints with hundreds of customers demanding answers.
Liam Murphy wrote yesterday: ‘Beyond a joke now. 18hrs in Chambery Airport and still absolutely no word as to when we will be leaving. No supervisors/managers available either at the airport or on the customer services “help” line. Disgusting.’
Emma Lloyd-Williams said: ‘I can’t understand how a company that arranges ski holidays throughout the season now fails to support and arrange details when heavy snowfall!’
Ski firm Inghams was also hit with complaints. Karen Collinge said: ‘Our friends have been left in a sports hall with no heat or food, they’ve just been given beds for the kids but no blankets.’
Snow removal vehicles clear a road between Albertville and Moutiers in central eastern France
On the roads, some motorists installed snow chains on their tyres to stop them skidding on ice.
But 3,500 drivers were forced to spend Saturday night in emergency shelters after the snow made roads impassable. A further 500 tourists who landed at Chambery had to sleep in shelters.
The mountain rescue service said a 22-year-old man had died when an avalanche swept him away as he skied off-piste on Saturday in Val d’Isere.
Crystal Ski Holidays spokesman Marion Telsnig yesterday apologised to delayed customers.
She said: ‘The safety of our customers and staff is of paramount importance and we have been working closely with local authorities and TUI Airways to ensure guests travel home or to their resort at the earliest convenience.'