Two weeks ago I was booked on an easyJet flight from Glasgow to London Luton which was first delayed and then cancelled. It was one of many flight disruptions during Storm Ciara. This is my review of the experience and how the disruption was handled by the airline.
Prior to the flight
On Sunday 9 February, I was booked on a train journey from Glasgow to London Euston. When notice of Storm Ciara came a few days earlier, I purchased a backup flight ticket with easyJet for £98, in case trains would not be running on Sunday.
The easyJet ticket I purchased is for flight EZY72, departing Glasgow at 19:15 for London Luton, where it arrives at 20:25. It’s a popular Sunday evening flight that easyJet regularly operates with one of its Glasgow-based aircraft.
The aircraft was an Airbus A320neo, registration G-UZHR. It was delivered in March 2019. Every Sunday, the aircraft operates a morning rotation to Malaga, then an afternoon service to Amsterdam, and then the evening flight to London Luton.
Storm Ciara arrived with more intensity than expected. However, our aircraft still departed for its first rotation to Malaga on time. Still, because of an extended flight path to circumvent the storm, it returned to Glasgow some 20 minutes late.
Aircraft stuck in Frankfurt
The problems began during the aircraft’s second rotation to Amsterdam. The aircraft left Glasgow with a delay because it waited for landing clearance from air traffic control at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.
Incoming aircraft around Amsterdam were periodically being placed in a holding pattern in the air. There were high levels of congestion throughout the afternoon, even despite KLM canceling numerous flights. Many planes had to attempt landing several times before actually landing.
When it was time for this aircraft to start the London Luton portion of its schedule, the problems really started to begin.
After an attempted landing, the aircraft was diverted to Frankfurt. This was because the winds were so strong that no aircraft could land for a considerable period of time. Other aircraft were diverted as far as Copenhagen. An Emirates A380 bound for London Gatwick was diverted across Europe.
Following the diversion to Frankfurt, the aircraft was first scheduled to ferry passengers back from Frankfurt to Amsterdam an hour later. Afterwards, easyJet planned to fly the scheduled flight from Amsterdam to Glasgow with a delay, and then complete the final rotation of the day from Glasgow to London Luton and back.
How easyJet ever planned to do this I cannot understand. This was overly optimistic from the start. For about two hours, we passengers waiting in Glasgow for the flight to London Luton were continuously told that we would indeed fly, but with almost a three-hour delay.
It all went downhill from there. The aircraft never made it to Amsterdam from Frankfurt. Instead, it was re-scheduled to fly from Frankfurt straight back to Glasgow. It left the passengers bound for Amsterdam from Glasgow in Frankfurt Airport, and canceled the flight from Amsterdam to Glasgow, leaving those passengers stranded there.
Some ten minutes later, the rotation from Glasgow to London Luton was canceled too. The notification came through the easyJet app. I was hoping the aircraft would still fly us, but presumably, the length of the delay would by that point have exceeded the legal crew limit.
The notification of cancellation followed through to easyJet’s disruption portal, which I found fairly easy to use. All customers were offered either an immediate refund or a free transfer onto any available flight in the near future.
Because some 12 flights from Glasgow to London had already been canceled by that point that day, there were no free seats on any easyJet flight bound for London Luton for the next two days, not even for any of the other London airports. So I actually rebooked myself onto a flight departing not Glasgow but Edinburgh, and arriving not in London Luton but London Gatwick.
The disruption portal also included a single-click option to book accommodation, and a very clear notice of consumer rights. The phone line, however, was less helpful. I waited for an hour before hanging up because no one answered.
Conclusion and verdict
Still, overall, I believe easyJet handled the cancellation fairly well. It is unclear why they didn’t just cancel the Amsterdam rotation and fly us to London Luton on time, also returning to Glasgow from Luton on time. Putting that aside, the app was easy to use and the process of rebooking or asking for a refund straightforward.
Have you had to deal with easyJet due to a flight disruption? Let us know how your experience was by leaving a comment.