EasyJet’s disgraceful treatment of its customers in recent days causes much more of a headache for Northern Ireland passengers trying to rearrange a cancelled flight at short notice.
The airline cancelled hundreds of flights across the UK over the weekend — in many cases, on the day of the flight and without any explanation.
I was one of those unlucky customers whose heart sank when I received an email from EasyJet’s customer services at 10.49am on Thursday — 10 hours before my flight.
“Dear Ralph, we’re really sorry that your EasyJet flight has been cancelled,” the email read. “We’d like to apologise for any inconvenience this may cause you.”
My fiancée, a friend and I were due to fly from Belfast International Airport to Palma de Mallorca Airport for our friend’s wedding, which had been postponed for two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
After booking our flights on March 27, we sorted airport parking and accommodation through Airbnb — weekend all set. Or so we thought.
Thursday’s abrupt email from EasyJet explained the options available to me: I could switch to another flight for free, choose a voucher for the full value of our tickets or request a refund.
There was also the offer of a hotel room on EasyJet if there were no available flights on the same day.
I quickly logged in to the EasyJet app, but the only available flight from Belfast International to Mallorca was on Saturday evening. But with the wedding on the same day, that wasn’t an option.
There was no choice of airports that would have allowed me to rearrange flights via England or Scotland.
It was time to call EasyJet’s customer services and get this sorted.
I eventually got speaking to a member of EasyJet’s team, who, after continually putting me on hold, told me the flight had been cancelled as the plane was delayed the night before.
It soon became clear that passengers in Northern Ireland are in a much more vulnerable position when their flight is cancelled.
I explained that Saturday’s flight was not going to work as the wedding was on the same day, so she decided to ask if I was close to Liverpool and could I get there on Thursday afternoon for a flight to Palma?
After explaining the small matter of crossing the Irish Sea, I suggested EasyJet could fly us to Bristol from Belfast on Thursday evening, put us in a hotel and fly us to Mallorca on Friday morning.
I was put on hold for around five minutes before I got my answer: EasyJet could fly us to Bristol, we wouldn’t be given a hotel room and we would have to pay for a flight from Bristol to Palma.
With EasyJet only flying internationally from Belfast International on the island of Ireland, it became very clear that passengers from Northern Ireland simply must like it or lump it if their flight gets cancelled.
Despite explaining my situation for over an hour on the phone, I ended up having to take a refund and, due to the extremely short notice from EasyJet, we were unable to get to Mallorca at all.
Thankfully, our Airbnb host and Belfast International Airport refunded us in full for accommodation and parking after hearing of our flight cancellation, something they didn’t have to do.
They showed a lot more sympathy than those responsible — EasyJet — and I suspect many passengers with their plans in tatters will be feeling the same way.