Saturday 22 September 2018

Honeymoon horror for elderly couple after 13 hours on a plane that landed back where it started

EasyJet (stock image)
EasyJet (stock image)

Stephen Walter

An elderly couple waited 70 years for their honeymoon, only to spend 13 hours on a plane which then landed back in the UK the same evening.

An extraordinary series of mishaps saw Geoff Bliss (84) and his 80-year-old new bride Sheila, return to Bristol airport with nothing to show from their romantic getaway apart from an empty bag of peanuts each.

The farcical circumstances of their nightmare trip saw their flight twice fail to land at Madeira’s Funchal Airport due to strong winds and it once even diverted to Tenerife to re-fuel.

When their easyJet flight failed to land in Madeira the second time, it re-routed to land at Faro in Portugal, where the pilot was advised to take all the passengers back to Bristol.

Throughout the ordeal, everyone was kept on board as there was said to be little or no hotel vacancies in Faro due to the collapse of airline Monarch.

The couple, believed to be among Britain's oldest newlyweds, first met as teenagers but have now tied the knot as widowers.

They claimed all the airline were able to give them was a packet of peanuts and a drink each.

What should have been a 1,480-mile flight taking three hours and 40 minutes, became a journey of 3,713 miles taking more than 13 hours.

In that time they could have flown to Singapore, Japan, Mexico or even Mauritius.

easyJet has apologised to the Blisses, from Weston-super-Mare, Somerset. However, Mrs Bliss, who suffers from arthritis in her knees, vowed never to set foot on another plane again.

Mr Bliss said: “Our friends and neighbours all said, 'What the hell are you doing back here? You're supposed to be on holiday'.

“I felt the way they handled things wasn't very good. My wife has refused point blank to ever go on a plane again."

The couple flew out from Bristol Airport at 7.20am on Monday October 2, after tying the knot in their hometown two days earlier.

Strong winds meant they were unable to land in Madeira and, with four other planes circling overhead, they were re-routed to Tenerife to refuel.

After heading back to the island of Madeira, a second unsuccessful attempt to land saw the plane instead head to Faro, and then back to Bristol.

Mr Bliss said: "We couldn't get off the plane. Because Monarch had just gone bust there was no accommodation for us either.

"The pilot phoned head office and they said, 'come back to Bristol'. The plane was running out of food but they still made us pay for everything.”

They declined the offer of another flight the next morning at 5.30am.

"I told the rep, 'Forget it. We're going home'. Our honeymoon had been totally ruined," he said.

An easyJet spokesman confirmed its flights to and from Funchal were affected due to high winds, meaning flights were diverted as far away as the Canary Islands.

He also said some customers were put up in hotel rooms and that those who paid out of their own pocket will be reimbursed.

He added: "The safety of its passengers and crew is the airline's highest priority.

"Whilst this is outside of our control we would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused as a result of the weather conditions."

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