A south Belfast woman has lifted the lid on the chaos at airports during the Christmas big freeze.
Sarah Copeland from The Village described how passengers revolted in one airport and took over the Easyjet desk in a desperate bid to book alternative travel online.
She claims the budget airline left her, along with thousands of others, stranded at London’s Gatwick Airport and having to fork out over £700 to get home.
Sarah says that Easyjet has only agreed to refund her £202 — but she has yet to receive it.
Recalling the ordeal, which left her vowing never to fly with the airline again, Sarah said: “We were at the airport and due to fly at 5.30pm, but we weren’t taken down to departures until 5.45pm, and were in the queue until 6.30pm. We were told there was no outbound staff and that was the reason for the delay.
“Finally, we got onto the plane at around 6.40pm and were left sitting for ages — there were staff on it, but they didn’t appear to be doing much.”
Eventually, the plane taxied to the runway. “But it had started to snow, so they said they had to de-ice the plane,” said Sarah.
“At 7.20, we were told the plane was not going. We were told that as we were the eighth plane on the runway, we couldn’t go anywhere.
“We got off and were told Easyjet staff would be there to meet us, to tell us about our luggage and what to do next.”
But when she got off the plane, they were not told where to go.
“There was so much confusion. There was no Easyjet staff,” said Sarah. “Someone from British Airways told us the best place to go was departures. When we got there, there must have been about 3,000 people trying to get bags. We waited there until 9.30pm.
“We still didn’t know where to go, so went to the Easyjet desk — there was no staff on.
“It was like a murder scene. People moved in behind the counter to try to log on to the internet.
“Then a guy came along who said he was a team leader at the airport, who said he would open up the internet free of charge.
“I phoned my dad and was told there was no other flights until Boxing Day. Everyone started to scatter, to get the boat. But I was afraid to leave the airport as someone said we wouldn’t be entitled to a refund if we did that.
“In the end we had to get three trains from Crawley to Holyhead and the boat from Holyhead to Dublin. This cost us £400 in total.
“Our flights cost £302, but Easyjet said they would only refund us £202. They said that was the price of the flight home and covered half the luggage.
“I still haven’t received it.”
Easyjet had made no response at the time of going to press.