Lucy Upton, 35, and Karen Paskin, 47, switched their £800 flights to Portugal for an overnight trip to Dublin after earlier hen-do plans were cancelled, but their new trip went awry too
Image: BPM Media)
Two friends endured a “six-hour journey from hell” after their Ryanair flight was grounded during Storm Arwen.
Lucy Upton, 35, and Karen Paskin, 47, had switched their £800 flights to Portugal for an overnight trip to Dublin after earlier hen-do plans were cancelled.
But the pair were trapped with other passengers on board flight FR663 on the tarmac at Birmingham Airport for more than five hours because of the storm which has ravaged the UK.
To make matters worse, college lecturer Lucy said passengers were not allowed off the plane due to staff shortages on the ground.
The 8.05am flight eventually left Birmingham at about 1.30pm and landed in Dublin at 2.10pm.
Mum-of-two Lucy told BirminghamLive : “It was a catalogue of errors. After six-and-a-half hours we arrived in Dublin.
“The flight was meant to leave at 8.05am, but because of the weather staff hadn’t arrived so we were held up.
“That was fair enough as the weather was bad. The staff did turn up and we were allowed on the plane, which was about 8.15am by this time.
“We were told the plane needed to be de-iced and also needed to re-fuel. It was almost two hours later at this point and people had missed connecting flights.
“I think the captain was trying to contact Swissport and was getting radio silence.
“Apparently they were short-staffed and there was no way anyone could get off the plane as there was no-one to get us off the plane.
“People asked what if there was an emergency? And they said ‘we’d just have to basically try and keep them alive until someone comes to help us’.
“For over five hours we’d been on the plane before it left the tarmac. We weren’t offered any drinks or anything like that.
“You could buy things, but nothing for free to apologise (for the delays).”
The pair, both from Solihull, claimed about 180 passengers were on board.
About 50 to 60 people – many having missed connecting flights – were eventually allowed off the plane after four hours.
They said some people were flying back the same day, so ended up “going to the pub in Dublin for a few hours and coming straight back”.
Lucy added: “No-one was allowed to get off the plane for four hours and there was no way anyone could get off the plane. People were getting frustrated.
“In the end 50 or 60 people did get off the flight. I think many had missed connecting flights anyway.
“Then the luggage had to come off as well. I think everyone was very patient given the circumstances.”
Lucy and Karen’s original Ryanair flights to Portugal for a hen do were cancelled due to the pandemic.
They had paid £800 between them, but said “their only option” was to swap them at no cost for flights to Dublin.
“We’ve just spent £800 on a six-and-a-half hour journey from the moment we got on the plane,” explained Lucy.
“If the hen do and wedding was being pushed back a couple of years, Ryanair said to us we’d have to transfer the flights each year.
“You can only do it a year at a time at which point it would cost £300 to transfer them for a year and then next year we’d have to transfer them again, which was another £300.
“My friend and I just said we’ll just do a little trip ourselves and go and get some Christmas presents. Not for one minute did we think this would happen.
“The icing on the cake was when we were in the air and they sent down the drinks trolley. It got to aisle 13 and we were on aisle 15 when cabin crew said ‘sorry, we’re going to land soon, we can’t serve you any drinks.'”
The pair are due to fly back at 9pm tonight, Sunday, November 28.
Ryanair were approached for comment.
A Swissport spokesperson added: “We are aware that some passengers at Birmingham Airport experienced delays when travelling this weekend.
“This was due to disruption caused by bad weather. We would like to apologise for any inconvenience this caused.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.