Their flights were cancelled and they spent 24 hours falling in love

As hundreds of travelers wait to find out if they will be stranded again after flights are cancelled to Paris, these Belgian teens tell their story Their flights were cancelled and they spent 24…

Their flights were cancelled and they spent 24 hours falling in love

As hundreds of travelers wait to find out if they will be stranded again after flights are cancelled to Paris, these Belgian teens tell their story

Their flights were cancelled and they spent 24 hours falling in love

A group of teenagers played a game of chess during their flight home from France. Photograph: Stephane de Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images

Stephane De Grand had finished school, settled down to a relaxing week and planned to enjoy a well-earned trip to Paris on 26 May. But in the course of a day, her 19-year-old daughter Justine lost her luggage, missed her flight and, having missed the railway link, made the most of her 24 hours.

Since the civil war that broke out in Syria in 2011, Mathieu De Grand, who studied engineering, and her now ex-husband, a car mechanic, had moved their seven children to a refugee camp in the Belgian city of Antwerp.

Upon their return to their humble abode in that city on 26 May, there was a problem. Dressed in academic attire, the nine teens were told not to come home.

Five were denied entry at the airport gate, including one who had a sick relative. While they waited, the teens played a game of chess on their departure from Luton airport. Stephanie De Grand, a photographer, left a final message on her mother’s iPad that prompted a look in the mirror: “Miss Stephane, your eyes sparkle in my heart.”

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Stephane De Grand returned to Antwerp on 28 May. Photograph: Stephane de Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images

As she travelled home, armed with the “memories of the day” from her baby granddaughter, De Grand called her to say she would be coming to meet her granddaughter when they arrived.

But nearly a week later, there was still no contact.

After playing games for hours on her mobile and reading books, these Belgian teenagers spent 24 hours falling in love with each other. Photograph: Stephane de Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images

For three days, De Grand, her mother and three sisters stayed in her apartment. They watched films and enjoyed playing games. On the fifth day, everyone went out to meet their friends and stayed on until it became too dark. De Grand was struggling to sleep, but her mother refused to blame a soul for the absence of her son and daughter.

This 48-hour affair became a 24-hour affair.

“We had no contact,” Stephane De Grand told reporters on Thursday. “I’m delighted that her parents are making such an effort to see their grandchildren. She will live forever in my heart.”

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