Two friends missed a graduation party after their easyJet flight back to Manchester was canceled – and their rebooked flight was hit by further delays.
Paige Smith and her housemate Zak were left stranded in Majorca for days following the chaos. The pals jetted off to Palma, in Majorca, for a few days away in the sun last week – and took off from Manchester Airport on March 28.
They decided to arrive four hours prior to take off, following reports of chaos faced by passengers, as the airport grapples with staffing shortages and a surge in international travellers. However, much to their surprise, they waded through security with little fuss despite the airport being ‘really busy’.
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Their flight took off at 5.30am and they flew into Palma airport, landing shortly before lunchtime. It was upon their return from their mini-break that they faced a challenge. Due to fly on Friday morning, Paige awoke and packed her bags, only to be met with an email from easyJet advising her that the flight was cancelled.
Worried and stuck 1,300 miles away, they tried to frantically find out what had gone wrong, and were told their option would be to catch the next available flight and given a hotel room for the night. This meant that they were to miss their long-awaited graduation party with friends. Paige also had her work shifts ‘messed around’ as she had important clients to meet.
Paige, 21, said: “Getting out there wasn’t bad at all. We had seen a lot online about how chaotic the airport had been, so got there for about 1.30am but our flight didn’t leave until 5.30. We took off on time though, and the security was pretty quick for us.
“Our initial flight back was on the Friday, and we were supposed to get back to Manchester Airport at 1.30pm, and were planning to go to our friends’ graduation party as all the people we live with are students. When I woke up, I checked my emails and saw there was a message from easyJet at around 4am telling us the flight was cancelled.
“We had rushed around that morning and were about to leave to go to the airport when luckily, I checked my emails. Off the bat, we didn’t know what to do, and I was meant to be at the work on Saturday too. “
Disappointed about missing the party, they were then told by easyJet that the next available flight was the following day at 9.15pm. However, the next day, Paige claims the airline’s mobile app kept predicting different times due to various delays.
The plane, which had been completing other journeys to and from Manchester Airport that day, was delayed after arriving at the airport later than planned due to ‘air traffic control restrictions’. The pair did not land back in Manchester until the early hours of Sunday morning – two days later than planned.
easyJet canceled numerous flights to Manchester Airport earlier this week, April 5, due to ‘ongoing high levels of crew sickness’. Last weekend, when housemates Paige and Zak found themselves stranded, more than 200 easyJet flights were axed across the country.
Paige added: “At this point we just wanted to get home. easyJet had been really good to be fair and their app was really simple to use for them to book us into another hotel, I just couldn’t help but think that delays at Manchester Airport could have also had something to do with it.
“When we woke up on the Saturday morning, the app kept giving me different times and it kept being pushed back. But, it still told us to check in at 7.15pm at Palma airport, so we had to do that to be sure. The plane was late arriving at Palma from Manchester, and we didn’t leave until almost 12 am that night.
“Thank goodness we only took hand luggage. We quickly disembarked in Manchester in the early hours of Sunday morning and the airport was a ghost town and there were people sleeping everywhere it was so strange. We couldn’t believe how many suitcases had just been abandoned, there were hundreds of them.”
Acknowledging the delays, easyJet confirmed that unusually high levels of staff absences due to sickness resulted in their initial cancellation. They added that the second flight had been delayed due to air traffic control restrictions from the previous flight which was ‘out of their control’.
A spokesperson for EasyJet said: “We’re sorry that Ms Smith’s flight from Palma to Manchester on 1 April was cancelled, due to unusually high levels of crew sickness. We did all possible to minimize the impact of the disruption for customers and provided the option of a free transfer to an alternative flight, or a voucher or a refund, as well as arranging hotel accommodation and meals for customers where required.
“While Ms Smith was able to rebook herself onto an alternative flight the following day, unfortunately the flight was delayed as a result of Air Traffic Control restrictions on a previous flight the aircraft was operating, which resulted in the flight arriving in Manchester later than scheduled While this was outside of our control we’re very sorry for the inconvenience caused by the subsequent delay.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.