Ryanair cancellations leave Northern Ireland florist stranded for five days
A Co Antrim woman has branded Ryanair a "shame and disgrace" after she was left stranded in London for five days following the cancellation of not just one, but two flights home.
Sherry Suett (55), a florist who lives in Cullybackey, was due to fly from Stansted on Saturday, but the flight "disappeared off the board" following a two hour delay. "It was a disaster. My daughter, who was waiting to pick me up in Belfast, knew more than I did," she said.
"There was chaos in the airport, but I managed to make it to the gate and that's when a voice over the tannoy told us the flight had been cancelled."
Ms Suett, who had been visiting family after holidaying in Cyprus, was advised to collect her luggage, leave the airport and book a new flight home - but the next available flight wasn't until Tuesday.
"I just accepted it as one of those things and informed my employer that I would not be back in work until Wednesday," the mum-of-one said.
But the Greenmount College lecturer never made it to work yesterday either, after Ryanair cancelled her rescheduled flight home on Tuesday afternoon.
Ms Suett said she was left baffled by the reason cited by the low-fare airline.
"I couldn't believe it when they cancelled the second flight," she said. "But I was more shocked that they blamed it on the weather.
"There had been a few thunderstorms in the early part of the morning, but my flight was in the afternoon when the sun was shining.
"It's a bit of a mystery, because Ryanair was the only company cancelling flights that day".
She said she had not been offered compensation, branding Ryanair "a shame and disgrace".
A Ryanair spokesperson said it was "forced" to cancel flights on Tuesday due to adverse weather disruption, which was not exclusive to the airline and meant no compensation is due.
It said any suggestion that Ryanair was the only company affected was "entirely false".
But a spokesperson for Stansted Airport confirmed that Ryanair was indeed the only company to cancel flights on Tuesday.
"It is up to Ryanair to explain why they chose to make that decision," they added.
The disillusioned passenger finally arrived back home last night after ditching the airline for one of its main competitors.
"They have completely destroyed all trust, so I couldn't take another chance," Ms Suett said.
"I had to pay £250 for an easyJet flight on top of the additional expenditure over the last few days and loss of earnings."
Ms Suett has vowed to never again rely on the Irish company which, she claims, ruined a precious family reunion earlier this year.
"I was on my way to celebrate my sister's 70th birthday and my mum, who suffers from dementia and lives in a care home, was going to be there," she recalled.
"It was just one of those valuable moments when we were all going to be together - there might not be many of those left.
"But after a 19-hour delay in Belfast I knew I'd missed it, I just gave up and went home."
The Girls Brigade leader, who also missed an important planning meeting due to the disruption, said there is "no excuse" for how the company has acted.
Hundreds of passengers across Europe have been sharing similar experiences online as the company contends with air traffic control staff shortages in some of its main travel hubs - 25% of Irish pilots are due to take part in a fourth strike tomorrow, causing even more cancellations.
Scott Kennerley, head of transport policy at The Consumer Council said air passengers impacted by delays or cancellations may be entitled to assistance and in some cases compensation.
Anyone who wants to know more about their passenger rights or who needs help making a complaint can contact The Consumer Council on 0800 121 6022 or visit www.consumercouncil.org.uk.