Ernie Lumsden was a passenger on a flight to Madeira who was held up at Manchester Airport due to travel agent Rosamund Travel not booking his ticket. Ernie was in the same predicament as Derek and Mavis Wilton, who had bought the holiday from Alec Gilroy when he was told by his doctor not to fly because of an ear infection.

After spending the night at the airport waiting for the matter to be resolved, Ernie was itching to leave, but waited to find out if there were any updates from Sun Rise Tours when the desk opened at 9am. Making friends in the Wiltons, Ernie related a tale of a time he was stuck somewhere with a lounge no bigger than a billiard table, compared to which Manchester Airport was luxurious, although the story failed to make the Wiltons feel any better. Having previously been to Madeira in 1986, he offered to take Mavis to the botanical gardens, suggesting that perhaps Derek could go shopping.

Ernie waited a further two hours for tour operator Mr Tasker to get in touch with the travel agent manager Mr Wilkinson, after which he called it quits and left Mavis his phone number in case the tickets were found. Shortly afterwards, the Wiltons were informed that Rosamund Travel had gone bust and Mr Wilkinson had disappeared with the money; they'd waited for nothing.