easyJet offered a refund for the canceled NI to Faro flight but ‘refused’ to pay compensation

Tourists scheduled to fly to Portugal are ‘disgusted’ with the airline’s treatment

And while the airline has since apologized, passengers were left to tally up the cost of Friday night’s canceled flight, with easyJet so far refusing compensation citing “exceptional circumstances” beyond their control.

It is understood that flights from Belfast International Airport were initially delayed due to technical issues, with passengers – many with families and children – stuck on board.

But by the time the issue was resolved, the crew had been working outside of regulated hours – meaning the plane could not take off because backup crew was unavailable.

On Monday morning, Andrew Nelson of Lurgan should have woken up in the south of Portugal, treating his wife to a 40th birthday gift for five days in the sun.

“Basically it was a nightmare,” he said, adding that there was confusion over the reason for the first four hour delay.

“The pilots told us they should check the tread depth, then easyJet said it broke on the tarmac,” he said.

“We were on the plane for four hours and the only time the crew came was to offer a small glass of water. The children were crying and the people were getting restless.

“There seems to be no communication from easyJet to staff on board. The pilot basically told us he had no idea what was going on and he had no idea where the replacement crew was.

But the nightmare didn’t end there.

“When we were notified the flight was cancelled, we were herded through a packed departure with everyone watching and told to go to a table with no easyJet staff,” he continues.

“Nobody knows what to do and how to get another flight. The only thing the Swissport desk told us was to watch the easyJet app. This trip was meant to be a gift for my wife’s 40th birthday and turned into a horror show.

“At the time the app was working, the only flight option was a nearly nine hour flight via Liverpool the next day. After spending 10 hours at the airport, the last thing my wife wanted to do was head back to the airport the next day. We gave up but it was another two hours before we could collect our suitcases which was the final humiliation.

“I filed a compensation claim Saturday morning and within 24 hours I got an email saying they denied it because it was ‘exceptional circumstances’.”

Niall McKee and three friends had hoped to enjoy a golf trip and said the cancellation cost them more than the price of the flights.

“We lost money on taxis, parking, food and drink at the airport,” he said. “We had to get a taxi home because bags weren’t unloaded until after 10pm.

“I filed a claim but they rejected it. I really hope they compensate us for the cost, no matter the hassle.

Another passenger was Niall Byers, one of the seven in the group.

“Absolute disgust,” he said.

“There was a flight attendant named Andrew McKee who stayed up until midnight making sure everyone was okay. He didn’t have to, but took a lot of sticks. He is the only help available.

“In the end we suffered financial costs and lost days off.”

EasyJet previously apologized for the “inconvenience caused”. It said that “the safety and wellbeing of our customers and crew is our top priority”.

Last night, the airline added: “For your understanding, due to the flight being canceled due to damage caused by ground debris which was beyond the control of the airline, compensation is not due in accordance with the regulations.

“However, regardless of whether cancellations are beyond our control, we will always look after our customers and therefore we are providing the option of free flight transfers or refunds and covering hotel accommodation and meals for those who require them, and we will also reimburse other expenses that the customer may incur as a result of the cancellation, which the customer can claim quickly and easily online via our special form.”

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