‘We’re stuck abroad due to UK travel crisis – a bus might be our only option’
A couple caught up in the UK’s air traffic control disaster have had their flight home from Switzerland cancelled – and can’t get another until at least Wednesday. The pair say they’re even considering getting a bus home as a train would cost £850.
Doug, 64, and Diana Ross, 61, from Surrey, had already been plagued by travel chaos when they flew from London Gatwick to Geneva. The couple were heading to a wedding in nearby Swiss city Verbier when their flight was cancelled on Thursday, August 24.
They managed to book another flight that day at 5pm except that flight was delayed and eventually, at 7.30pm, also cancelled. Doug told Daily Star: "We then had to join the scrum to get our bag back that took three hours and there were no hotels or transport given the large number of people whose flights had been cancelled.
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"We finally go to the wedding at 5pm on the Friday in Verbier. And today it looks like it is all going to happen again.” Planning to fly back today, Doug and wife Diana were confronted with yet another cancelled flight as UK airspace was reportedly closed due to an "air traffic control system failure".
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Unfortunately, Doug and Diana say that collecting their baggage still "continues to be utter confusion" as nobody knows what had been loaded or not. He added that the Geneva info desk is "completely overwhelmed with people with no clue where to go or what to do. Lots of families and elderly and general confusion."
Doug said: "We have run into several families who had the same difficulty we had getting out and are now stranded trying to get back." The pair’s struggle to get home means they’re even considering getting a train or bus to the UK – but even that comes with great difficulty.
The holidaymaker noted: "No easyJet flights or alternatives available until Wednesday. Wednesday flights are all indirect and take at least 9 hours from Geneva to London Gatwick.
"We looked up trains and can get a train out tomorrow but the cost, thanks to dynamic pricing I am sure, is £425 each as no standard seats are available. We can get train tickets on standard seats on Wednesday, but the cost is still over £250 each.
The pair say they are looking into a bus from Switzerland to the UK – but Doug added it "does not look like it will work". The exhausted pair added: "We are in good shape, experienced travellers, and agile. I feel sorry for those who are very stressed and confused in this situation. I will let you know if we decide to walk home."
While some reports state that the issue with air traffic control may have been fixed Doug noted: "There are still no flights and even the first class train tickets – and all classes – are sold out until Thursday."
He added: "I understand weather issues and technical issues and the need for safety, these are not things within easyJet control. But what is within easyJet’s control is how they respond, communicate, and treat their passengers.
"It was impossible to get any information from easyJet on Thursday/Friday except 'check the app' and the app was totally unhelpful, it had no practical information.
"There was no one at the airport as staff had gone home and no hotels available, and there were hundreds if not thousands in the same situation."
After trying to organise a way home all last night, Doug explained that the pair had booked to stay in Geneva for two nights at a cost of £260. Then they would fly to Dublin on Wednesday costing £470 and stay there at a cost of £250. Finally, they would fly with Ryanair to London at a cost of £240.
The couple’s extra travel cost totalled £1,240 including food. Doug added: "We are resigned to the fact that the week will be a write-off."
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easyJet told Daily Star: "We are sorry for the Ross’ experience on their flights to and from Geneva, which were unfortunately unable to operate as planned due to the impact of ATC restrictions and adverse weather last week and yesterday’s UK ATC system failure affecting all airlines operating to and from the UK.
"We always look to do everything possible to minimise the impact of disruption for our customers, provide options to rebook or receive a refund, endeavour to source hotel accommodation and advise anyone who make their own hotel or alternative travel arrangements where no easyJet flights are available that they will be reimbursed.
"The safety and wellbeing of our customers and crew is our highest priority and while these circumstances were outside of our control, we would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused and to reassure customers that we are doing everything possible to minimise the impact of the disruption."