Passengers aboard the easyJet flight were flown from Bristol to Madeira, where they circled the islands, briefly landed and then headed back to the UK in what turned out to be an 11 hour flight
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Holidaymakers desperate for some sun flew all the way to Madeira from Bristol only to be brought straight back again.
The easyJet flight took off from the West Country city on Monday and headed to the Portuguese archipelago, which is then circled twice before stopping for fuel at another airport.
Not a single passenger got off the plane before it took off again and was flown back to the UK, Bristol Post reported.
When they arrived back in Bristol after an 11-hour flight that got them nowhere, the passengers described ‘chaotic’ scenes as everyone was left waiting for almost three hours before they were told what would happen next.
Those on board the flight ended up being bussed to Gatwick and checked into a hotel as the clock neared midnight.
The passenger were told they would have to get themselves the check-in at 5am this morning to make a second attempt at starting their holidays.
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EasyJet has apologized for the huge delay and said high winds at Funchal Airport meant the flight was canceled while the passengers were still on it.
Those on board have now, finally, arrived at Cristiano Ronaldo Airport on the Madeiran island, around 24 hours later than planned.
Some said the best thing about the experience was that the passengers developed ‘great camaraderie’ in the face of a deteriorating situation.
“They told us that the wind speed at Funchal was too high to land, but we were stacked up in a queue twice and other plans made it down,” one passenger said.
“We saw Madeira from the air multiple times but never managed to land at Funchal – the diversion to Porto Santo, which was very nearby, was apparently to take on fuel to circle Funchal again several more times without landing.
“The pilot then made some excuse about needing more fuel from Faro and had clearly decided we were heading back to Bristol afterwards.
“No one was allowed out at Porto Santo, and no reason was given and if we’d have gotten off there we could have got a ferry to Funchal.
“A handful of passengers with hand luggage only were allowed off at Faro, but told they were then on their own as the company had decided Bristol was where we were being taken.”
According to some passengers, things got even worse when they landed back at Bristol.
“When we got back to Bristol it was chaotic and the phone line staff were giving little to no consistent information and frequently dropping the calls,” Cardiff University scientist Timothy Easun, who was traveling on a family holiday, said.
“One of the subcontracted ground staff went above and beyond to find out what was going on, to get us on a coach to Gatwick, that got us to a hotel just after midnight, from where we had to book ourselves taxis to Gatwick itself for 5 am to get there in time for the morning flight – which we have had to book ourselves and will have to claim back.”
“There was a total lack of communication at Bristol.
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“We started optimistic on the plane, but when the pilot pulled us out of the waiting stack and headed to Faro it was obvious we were in for a really long day.
“People were most upset that the pilot led us on to think we might go back to try again when it was evident we wouldn’t, and that there was no support on the ground in Bristol: The app didn’t work, the website wasn’t working and the people on the phone were rude and unhelpful.
“By the time the coach arrived we were all very tired and resigned to our fate.”
A spokesperson for easyJet apologized for what happened, and said the windspeed was too high to be safe to land.
“We can confirm that flight EZY6245 from Bristol to Funchal diverted to Porto Santo and subsequently to Faro, as a result of winds gusting outside the limits of the aircraft,” they said.
“As the forecast was unfortunately not set to improve, the decision was taken to return to Bristol the flight was to be cancelled.
“While this was outside of our control we are very sorry for the inconvenience caused as a result of the weather. We did all possible to minimize the impact of the disruption for affected customers, providing hotel meals and accommodation where required, as well as the option to transferring to an alternative for free, or receive a voucher or refund.
“The safety and wellbeing of our customers and crew is our highest priority.”