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Tuesday 24 October 2017

Aer Lingus passengers offer credit cards to pay for plane refuelling

Passengers delayed on Dublin-Alicante flight because of fog diversion

Aer Lingus planes at Dublin Airport, Dublin.
Aer Lingus planes at Dublin Airport, Dublin.

Paddy Clancy in Spain

Frustrated passengers jokingly volunteered their credit cards to pay for refuelling a diverted Aer Lingus flight in Spain.

Passengers spent six and a half hours on a three-hour Dublin-Alicante flight because fog forced a diversion.

Flight EI0576, which left Dublin at 6.10 pm last Monday, was about to land at Alicante at 10 pm Spanish time when fog swept over the runway and the plane had to ascend again.

After circling Alicante several times the pilot advised passengers he was diverting to Valencia until the fog lifted.

The passengers remained aboard the aircraft and Aer Lingus decided to refuel at Valencia while the jet-crew awaited word that the fog had lifted and they could continue to Alicante.

Then there was a further long delay while Valencia Airport authorities demanded payment for the fuel.

Passenger Elizabeth Dignam, 39, who was travelling with her three children aged from 10 years to five month, said: “By then we must have been at least five hours on the plane. We sat in it while it was on the runway at Valencia.”

Elizabeth, from Trim, Co. Meath, said: “When we had to re-ascend at Alicante because of the fog we hung about in the air for a little while.

"Then we started running low on fuel so the pilot diverted to Valencia. We were sitting on the runway there for about 40 minutes when Aer Lingus decided from Dublin that we would refuel in Valencia and then return to Alicante if the weather had improved.

"After refuelling we were still sitting for another hour and then the pilot came on to the tannoy to say that they had a little bit of a problem because Aer Lingus don’t normally fly into Valencia and the crew had to get word that they could pay the  fuel bill.

“It seemed there was no-one authorized to pay the bill so they had to get back on to Dublin for further instructions.

“In the meantime passengers started volunteering their credit cards to pay for the fuel. People were actually lifting their cards out of their wallet.

“We were there for two hours at that stage and people were frustrated. They probably offered their credit cards in a jokey kind of way.”

Elizabeth added: “In fairness to the captain he was keeping us informed about the reasons for the delay.

“Anyway, the fuel bill must have been paid eventually by Aer Lingus because we flew back from Valencia to Alicante and we landed at half past one the next morning.”

Elizabeth was on her way on the flight last Monday to meet her parents Liam and Mary O’Loughlin from Arklow, Co. Wicklow, and join them at their holiday accommodation.

Liam said: “There was very little information being provided at Alicante Airport. The signs there said the flight had already landed. It wasn’t until we got a text from Elizabeth 45 minutes later that we discovered it was landed at Valencia and not Alicante.”

An Aer Lingus spokesman confirmed the company doesn’t fly into Valencia and it has no special arrangements with the authorities there. He added that he was unaware of last Monday’s incident.

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