'We can't get you onto another flight until Tuesday' - Couple delayed 44 hours after Belfast-London cancelled
An Irish couple who were delayed 44 hours when their Belfast to London flight was cancelled were shocked to learn that they won't be entitled to compensation.
Patrick O'Brien (32) and his girlfriend Gillian Byrne, from Armagh and Dublin, were due to return to London on Sunday July 30 with easyJet after visiting home for a wedding.
However on arrival at the airport they were notified that their flight was delayed - and eventually cancelled.
"We queued for two hours and then were told 'we can't get you onto another flight until Tuesday'," Patrick told Independent.ie.
"They wouldn't compensate us if we were to book with another airline so they said they would get us a hotel. It was 1am by the time we got to our hotel," he said.
The couple weren't given any food vouchers, which is standard practise, and on Monday were asked to return to the airport to collect them but refused. In the end the airline organised that their hotel would supply them with food.
"On Monday they offered to put us on a flight to Bristol and get us a taxi to London but we had to get our car in Gatwick so that would have just been more hassle," he said.
Eventually the couple boarded a flight bound for Gatwick on Tuesday afternoon - a full 44 hours after they were due to start the one hour and 20 minute journey.
In that time the couple could have travelled to Australia (aprox 22 hours journey time), Japan (aprox 17 hours journey time) or Argentina (aprox 20 hours).
"It's OK for me because I'm a teacher but my partner had to miss two days of work," Padraig said.
He said the airline explained pilot guidelines and airlines operating at almost 100pc capacity were behind the delay.
"They said that delays meant the pilots were over their allowed flying time and that because airlines are operating at capacity they expect it will be happening more over the next few weeks," he said.
Other passengers on the flight were forced to get taxis to Dublin and buy a new flight from there in order to make their connecting flight from London he said.
According to information released by the airline there were 541 cancellations in July 2017 compared to 350 in the same month last year.
The increase is due to external factors such as the London Gatwick runway closure on 17 July which caused around 100 cancellations as well as Air traffic control restrictions and weather which account for around 150 altogether according to the airline.
A spokesperson for easyJet said the company is sorry for the experience that these passengers had with their recent booking to London Gatwick. "Flights EZY841 and EZY842 between Belfast and London Gatwick on 30 July were cancelled due to air traffic control restrictions which meant crew reached their maximum working hours.”
“Unfortunately as it is the peak summer season flights to London were very full. This meant that we were unable to accommodate these passengers until 1 August.”
“easyJet adheres to its obligations under EU261 and is in touch with the family to discuss this.”
“The safety of its passengers and crew is the airline’s highest priority.”