Last month easyJet canceled around 10,000 flights from its summer schedule as staff planned a series of strikes over working conditions and pay.
Passengers from across Europe had to reschedule their travel plans, and even those whose flights were not affected faced long delays at many of the UK’s major airports due to the chaos that ensued.
Other airlines, including BA, were also forced to ground flights due to the strike faced by support staff the battle to get travelers to their destination, and handling thousands of refund and compensation claims.
But easyJet passengers seem to have been particularly disappointed. Some accuse the carrier of ignoring requests for refunds, refusing to book alternative flights and failing to warn them of their rights to compensation.
Detained: Damian McConville, 33, and his wife pictured in Greece before being abandoned by easyJet when their return flight home to Belfast was canceled twice
Which consumer group? is now demanding an investigation into potential breaches of consumer law by EasyJet over their treatment of customers.
He is asking the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to take action, claiming that flouting consumer law by airlines has become “so common”.
which one? heard horror stories from easyJet passengers across the UK.
Damian McConville, 33, and his wife decided to celebrate their wedding anniversary in May by going on their first post-pandemic vacation to Santorini.
But disaster struck on their way home as easyJet canceled the last leg of their flight home to Belfast, stranding them at Gatwick Airport.
The couple were in the departure lounge at Gatwick when they heard the news at 7.20pm that their last flight to Belfast had been cancelled.
They say they were told to use the easyJet app to reschedule their flights and book a hotel, but although they were able to reschedule the new flight for the next morning, there was no way to book a hotel on the app.
Passengers on canceled flights were left stranded at airports for hours after easyJet cut another 10,000 flights from its summer schedule due to strikes and staff shortages
Then the customer service closed and Damian and his wife were left to sleep on the floor until the next morning flight.
Damian said: “We didn’t get any water or food. We are both completely appalled at the lack of help, support and information we have received from EasyJet staff.
“The wife was in tears. No one should sleep on a cold tile floor at an airport.”
Disaster struck again as they received another email at 3am saying their 8.25am flight had also been cancelled.
|Less than 14 days’ notice of cancellation:|
|Less than 1500 km||Up to £220|
|From 1500 km to 3500 km||Up to £350|
|More than 3500 km||Up to £520|
|Read our guide for more information:
What are your rights if your flight is cancelled?
Unable to find staff to assist them, they booked the next available EasyJet flight for 6.30pm.
Concerned that this flight would also be cancelled, Damian later made the decision to book an earlier flight home with Ryanair to reach their two-year-old daughter.
When Damian filled in an expense form to claim a refund for his Ryanair flights from easyJet, he said his claim was rejected because he had not canceled a later EasyJet flight. Saga left him £350 out of pocket.
He also feels let down by the customer service team. He says he was not informed of his right to compensation, which would have been £880, due to the two flight cancellations.
He concluded: “I will not be flying with EasyJet again. Absolutely shocking service.”
“Their strategy is to make it as difficult as possible for customers to claim the refunds they are entitled to”
Alexia Kaloudis, 24, and her partner Niall arrived at Budapest Airport to head home to Gatwick to find their flight had been cancelled.
EasyJet had booked them on a flight earlier that morning, but by the time they knew it, it had already taken off.
The couple bought new Wizz Air flights which departed seven hours later than their original flight. Alexia submitted a £305 costs claim to easyJet the following day.
EasyJet took three weeks to respond to Alexia’s resubmission of a claim due to a technical error, and she submitted three claims in total.
Alexia’s third claim was dismissed as easyJet said it had flights available within 24 hours of their original departure.
“I felt extremely let down by their customer service,” Alexia told Which? “I feel their strategy at the moment is to make it as difficult as possible for customers to claim the refunds they are entitled to.
“It seems so impossible to get through to someone to discuss your claim, I expect many people will eventually give up and lose their money.
“This is a disgusting way to treat customers who have been adversely affected by EasyJet’s own mistakes. It looks like they want the customers to pay the bills.
“Overall the experience was very exhausting and frustrating as I was bounced from pillar to post with constantly conflicting messages and stock responses.
“The fact that EasyJet only suddenly took action after the national press was involved is disgraceful on their part because it shows that they were able to process my return all along, they just wanted to scare me off and make the process unpleasant. ‘
Airlines are required by law to offer passengers new flights to their destinations at the earliest opportunity, even if that means offering them a flight on an alternative airline, which easyJet is accused of doing.
which one? found that easyJet was directing passengers to a ‘manage my booking’ section of its app and website, which only allows easyJet flights to be rebooked.
Last month, the CAA vowed to take enforcement action against any airline found to be “systematically misleading consumers”.
Transport Minister Grant Shapps said “passengers should be made aware of their consumer rights immediately when things go wrong and – if necessary – be compensated in a timely manner”.
However, which one? is concerned that airlines’ disregard for consumer law has become a systemic problem in the travel sector – and that the CAA, with limited powers, is powerless to intervene.
The aviation regulator has since been assessing the evidence and speaking to airlines, but three months on no enforcement action has been taken.
EasyJet did not pay my expenses after I requested a refund
Matthew Siggins was on holiday in Athens in April when he received a text and email from easyJet saying his flight home two days later had been cancelled.
He was given three options:
1. Switch to another easyJet flight
2. Choose a voucher for the full value of the original flight
3. Request a refund
Matthew asked for a refund as the next EasyJet flight to Bristol was still three days away.
To get home, he booked a flight to Corfu on a Greek airline and then an EasyJet flight from Corfu to Bristol, cutting his holiday by 10 hours.
But legally, easyJet was obliged to book him on the next available flight after he was due to depart, even if it was a different airline.
And when that flight arrived at another UK airport, EasyJet was obliged to pay for his transfer back to Bristol Airport.
Matthew’s new flights cost £80 more than his original flight and he also had to pay for a transfer and food at Corfu Airport. But by claiming a refund for his original flight, Matthew waived his right to claim back his expenses.
He also says he was also not told he was entitled to £220 compensation for the late flight cancellation.
When Which? When easyJet asked why it did not offer passengers the option to book alternative flights with other airlines, the firm suggested that passengers were better off booking these alternative flights themselves.
A spokesperson said: “We offer customers a leading self-service tool that allows them to quickly and easily re-route on alternative flights if their flight is cancelled.
“If we are unable to offer a direct flight on easyJet within 24 hours, customers can secure flights with alternative carriers through our contact centres.
“However, we generally recommend that passengers book these flights themselves as this provides more flexibility and is the quickest way to secure a seat on an alternative flight.
“In these circumstances we will reimburse customers for the full cost of alternative transport.”
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel said: “EasyJet has treated its passengers appallingly, but this is just the latest example of a systemic problem in the aviation sector.
“Some airlines routinely ignore their legal obligations because they know they will not suffer any consequences.
“With the possibility of thousands more flights being cancelled, passengers are in for a miserable summer if the CAA and the Government do not follow through on their promises to tackle consumer abuses.
“An overhaul is desperately needed, so the government should give the CAA stronger powers so it can impose heavy fines on operators if necessary.
“Ministers must also abandon their ill-advised plans to cut domestic flight reimbursement rates.”
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