Passengers endured an 11-hour flight to nowhere then faced chaotic scenes at the airport after a nightmarish start to their holiday. The holidaymakers had left Bristol Airport for an early morning flight to Madeira on Monday but ended up spending the night in a hotel in Gatwick.
The easyJet plane flew over the Portuguese island twice and then diverted to another island. They then returned to the Portuguese mainland before returning to Bristol without leaving the plane at all, Live reports from Bristol.
The nightmare continued after the 11am flight as they then had to wait three hours before being taken by bus to Gatwick and put up in a hotel for the night. They were then told to check in at 5 a.m. for a second vacation attempt on Tuesday.
Airline easyJet has apologized for what happened and said high winds at Funchal Airport in Madeira meant the flight was canceled while passengers were still on board. Those on board eventually arrived at Cristiano Ronaldo Airport on the island of Madeira, around 24 hours later than expected, and said the best thing about the experience was that passengers had developed a “great camaraderie” in the face of a deteriorating situation.
“They told us that the wind speed in Funchal was too high to land, but we were double piled in a queue and other planes went down,” said a passenger. “We saw Madeira several times from the air, but we never managed to land in Funchal – the diversion to Porto Santo, which was very close, apparently had to take fuel to circle Funchal several times without landing. “
“Nobody was allowed to go out in Porto Santo, and no reason was given and if we had stayed there, we could have taken a ferry to Funchal.
“A handful of passengers with hand luggage only were allowed to get off at Faro but were told they were on their own as the company had decided that Bristol was where we were going to be taken,” he said. he added.
But after seeing their holiday destination from the air several times during the day, their trip ended where they started at around 6pm, around 11 hours after their first take-off, at Bristol Airport. And that’s where, according to the passengers, things got worse.
“When we got back to Bristol it was chaotic and the phone line staff gave little or no consistent information and frequently dropped calls,” said one passenger, the Cardiff University scientist, Timothy Easun, who was traveling on a family vacation.
“One of the contractor ground staff went out of their way to find out what was going on, to get us on a coach to Gatwick, which took us to a hotel just after midnight, from where we had to book us taxis to Gatwick even for 5am to get there in time for the morning flight. That we had to book ourselves and will have to claim,” he added.
The nearly three hours at Bristol Airport saw passengers trying to find out for themselves what was going on.
“There was a complete lack of communication in Bristol,” Dr Easun said. “We started off on the plane feeling optimistic, but when the pilot pulled us out of the waiting pile and headed towards Faro, it was obvious we were going to have a very long day…there was no no ground handling in Bristol: the app didn’t work, the website didn’t work and the people on the phone were rude and unhelpful By the time the coach arrived we were all very tired and resigned to our fate,” he added.
An easyJet spokesperson apologized for what happened and said the wind speed was too high to land safely.
“We can confirm that flight EZY6245 from Bristol to Funchal diverted to Porto Santo and then to Faro, due to winds blowing outside the aircraft’s limits,” he said. “As the forecast was unfortunately not to improve, the decision was made to return to Bristol, the flight was cancelled.
“Although it is beyond our control, we are sorry for the inconvenience caused by the weather. We have done everything possible to minimize the impact of the disruption for the affected customers, by providing meals and accommodation at the hotel if necessary, as well as the possibility of transferring to an alternative free of charge, or receiving a voucher or refund.
“The safety and well-being of our customers and crew is our top priority,” he added.