EasyJet's boomerang flight from Gatwick leaves passengers unhappy
Disgruntled passengers described how a routine flight from London to Gibraltar turned into a boomerang trip during which their plane tried and failed to land here twice, only to be diverted to Faro in Portugal and end up back in Gatwick nine hours later.
Weather conditions at Gibraltar International Airport prevented the easyJet flight from Gatwick from landing on Thursday evening.
The plane was diverted to Faro but instead of waiting for a break in the weather or busing passenger to the Rock, a decision was made to fly the 140 passengers back to Gatwick where they would spend the night in a hotel, paid for by the airline.
The news was not well received by passengers including the Lee family, who were returning to the Rock from a holiday visiting family and friends in the UK.
What happened on flight EZ8905, Harvey Lee said, “really pushed the limits” even while travelling in Covid-19 times.
His 12-year-old son Benjamin called it a “horrible experience.”
Mr Lee said: “Captain Henderson readied us for landing. Gibraltar airport’s runway is well known for being pretty short but there was little to no wind.”
“It appears however something was up as a ‘go around’ was implemented...that’s really not unusual for Gib.”
“We waited patiently for our second attempt, but Captain Henderson informed us that he had lost visual contact on his final approach due to low cloud and basically that was that and I’ll get back to you soon.”
Mr Lee said he and his family expected they would be diverted to Malaga. However, this was not the case.
“easyJet ops selected Faro presumably because it’s one of their hubs,” said Mr Lee.
“Having landed at Faro the Captain came out to let us know that we wouldn’t be happy as we’re going...back to Gatwick.”
Initially some people reacted and starting singing “were flying home”, but then passengers started to surge forward to ask the pilot questions.
“Who basically apologised but said I just do what I’m told,” said Mr Lee.
Sitting in his seat he noted that no attempt was made to manage the throng of people and lack of self-distancing and mask wearing by some was a thing of the past.
On the ground in Faro passengers were told: “If we left the plane easyJet washed their hands of us and no luggage in the hold could be collected under any circumstances as that’s illegal. They did however say that if we did leave they’d dump our baggage at Gatwick lost luggage department and we’d have to fly back to collect it in person,” said Mr Lee.
Four hours later Mr Lee and his family together with all the other passengers took off and arrived back in the UK at 2.30am.
When they landed they were told the airline’s app had crashed and they needed to wait until later that morning for ground staff to rebook flights.
The family made their way to the Holiday Inn in a cab, the price of which will be reimbursed by the airline, which also covered their room.
“We could have flown on the flight today [Friday] but I couldn’t take getting back on an EasyJet flight,” said Mr Lee who booked his family to fly British Airways from London City on Friday instead.
Out of pocket for that flight he noted, “on the plus side we did receive a free drink and pack of Pringles.”
EasyJet acknowledged the difficulties faced by passengers on this particular flight.
“We can confirm that easyJet flight EZ8905 from London Gatwick to Gibraltar [Thursday] evening was diverted to Faro, as a result of fog and low visibility conditions at Gibraltar airport,” a representative for the airline told the Chronicle.
“As the weather was not forecast to improve, the decision was taken to return to Gatwick and cancel the flight, as there was availability to accommodate all passengers on alternative flights to Gibraltar [on Friday].”
“We did all possible to minimise the impact of the weather disruption for our customers, providing a free transfer to an alternative flight, including the next available flights departing today, as well as providing hotel accommodation and meals for customers who required them.”
“Any customers who no longer wished to travel were alternatively able to request a refund or a voucher for their flight.”