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Easyjet: an incredibly BAD airline

February 17th, 2010 | Thomas | England, Spain, Travel | 8 Comments »

I don’t usually post negative reports like this on the website, but I am doing it as it is relevant to anyone planning on travelling in Europe using a ‘budget airline’ like Easyjet (aka Sleazyjet). Think again.

Having been living in Spain now for nearly 8 months, I was really looking forwards to the first visit from my sister Hannah. We’d begun planning her four days here months ago, back in late October or Early November, organising work schedules, sightseeing tours etc.

With her due to arrive at 7.45pm last Saturday 13th February, by 6pm I was in the house preparing a tasty meal for her arrival and about to leave for the airport.

That was when things took a turn for the ‘Easyjet worst’.

EasyJet cancellations - Easyjet review

I began receiving a series of text messages from my sister in Gatwick airport saying things like “I’ve been queuing 3 hours at Easyjet check-in, they say all their systems are down throughout Europe”…so I began checking the Easyjet website (nothing), and the Gatwick and Barcelona airport websites (nothing).

Cutting a long series of anxious texts short, having got them on the plane about 7 hours late, they left them on the plane for hours – no one knowing anything about what was going on, and finally turfed them off at about 10pm.

In Hannah’s own words:

“The pilot updated us first saying the bags were being put on and that he was just waiting for paperwork etc. second to tell us that some people had chosen to get off so we were having to get their bags (although we saw no one get off and no noise of baggage being removed from the hold).

Then he updated us telling us that they were in talks with head office (and via one of the air hostesses who also had no idea what was going on…we were told that she thought the captain was in talks to head office regarding negotiating a day off in lieu for the cabin staff who were now working into their day off (because of the original delay). That came from her but not sure she knew much)

He then came onto to tell us that the flight was cancelled due to some sort of very vague baggage problem…load of rubbish if you ask me. He told us to go to the ‘Menzies aviation group’ desk in the arrivals hall to rebook on another flight. Got there and there were about 300 people and absolutely no one at the desk. When someone did arrive there was basically a rugby scrum to get to them…the guy said absolutely nothing except rebook online and he handed out about 20 pieces of paper with customer rights on it….I didn’t get one!”

There was noone in the airport to help them, noone to tell them where to get their bags, how to re-book, or how to get a refund. In the end, instead of enjoying the first hours of her holiday in Barcelona, my sister was left wondering alone around Gatwick airport in tears on a Saturday night, then was forced to get the train back into London alone late at night, followed by a night bus home (as she got back too late for the tube).

Staff overtime request causes cancellation

The long and short of it is that there never was a Europe wide system failure (200+ other Easyjet flights took off fine from Gatwick that day), but what happened was almost certainly this: due to Easyjet’s sheer incompetence there was a problem with check-in. The delay meant that Easyjet (being a cheap and very crap airline) lost a few of its takeoff slots at Gatwick. This meant a few of the planes were delayed even further, by which point the Easyjet staff began complaining to their superiors about overtime pay. When their wishes were refused, they refused to fly the plane, and they and all the airport staff walked out of the airport, leaving the passengers stranded late at night.

The next day she tried to change her flight for another one, but Easyjet weren’t answering their customer services line (does this surprise you?), and the only flight available was flying to Spain on Wednesday, the day her return flight was bringing her back!

So, in future (and especially because Easyjet did it to ME too in January when I tried to get back to Spain) I will certainly pay a bit more and fly with British Airways or Iberia.

Claiming compensation

One final thing, did you know that in the EU, if an airline company like Easyjet gets you to your destination more than two hours late you are entitled to a minimum of 250 Euros compensation? Rather than try and pursue Sleazyjet through the courts, we’re going to put in a claim through this company EUclaim.

And my sister will be trying again in late April – her next available holiday. She won’t be flying Easyjet :-).

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Comments

8 Responses to “Easyjet: an incredibly BAD airline”

  1. It's bloody cold in England - winter 2009 colder than ever | Earthoria
    February 17th, 2010 @ 9:44 am

    […] what did I do (apart from feeding the birds)? I tried to get back to Spain, on Easyjet, from Gatwick. Not a very sound plan. I ended up wasting the day in queues of people whilst waiting […]

  2. Costas
    February 17th, 2010 @ 4:52 pm

    This situation is not uncommon and what’s unfortunate is that the same level of ignorance towards customers is more often than not exhibited by the larger carriers too.

    Competition usually sets the bar higher for quality of service but in the case of low cost airlines, it has helped the bigger companies reach new levels of low (“everybody else is doing it!”)

    I recently flew regular economy with SAS (certainly no cheap carrier) from Stockholm to Switzerland.

    I had a sore throat and was coughing. They refused to give me water unless I paid €2.50 for the privilege.

    What your sister and everyone else should do in these cases is:

    a) Write a simple letter to the airline and ask for compensation, not forgetting to Cc it to the relevant ombudsman or government office.
    Give them a reasonable deadline and threaten further action if they fail to respond. I guarantee you they will.

    b) ALWAYS have travel insurance. She would have been on the first flight out to you (on business class if necessary) if her flight got cancelled. Additionally, she could have taken a taxi to and from the airport, had meals paid and stayed at a hotel nearby without spending a penny.

  3. Thomas
    February 19th, 2010 @ 5:09 pm

    Thanks for the valuable comments Costas :-).

    I didn’t think insurance would actually cover something like this… I thought insurance was just something we paid to make us FEEL more secure…

  4. Costas
    February 26th, 2010 @ 9:59 am

    Many debit and credit card issuers offer you free automatic basic travel insurance if you pay 70% or so of your holiday (read: flights and hotel if applicable) with the card.

    The level of cover though depends on each card issuer’s policy so check and double-check. It usually doesn’t cover lost property or medical costs (unless you die or suffer invalidity) but is generally very generous with expenses incurred from delays and cancellations.

    It’s worth checking since that alone may be sufficient for most travellers and it costs absolutely nothing.

    Also, for medical cover, all European Union citizens (and yes, that includes the English) are entitled to same-cost medical treatment as the citizens of the country they are visiting (free in many instances) if they apply for the free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from their relevant local authority.

    The NHS handles these in the UK and you can apply here:

    http://www.ehic.org/

  5. RC
    April 20th, 2010 @ 3:40 pm

    This EXACT SAME situation happened to my wife and I who were trying to return from holiday in London(Gatwick) back to Geneva with EasyJet on April 1, 2010. We arrived to the airport several hours ahead of our scheduled flight only to find check-in queues spilling out of the airport. We were told that the check-in systems were down. After several delays, we boarded our plane over two hours after the scheduled departure. We were buckled in and our bags were stowed. The pilot then makes an announcement that he spoke with EasyJet and they told him that the flight is canceled. We are told to exit the plane where we will find EasyJet representatives waiting for us to rebook for the next available flight.
    There was NOBODY waiting for us. It was close to 9:30 PM at the time we left the plane. Hundreds of us are wandering the airport without a clue of where to go or what to do. We finally end up back at the EasyJet check-in desks only to find it is deserted. They all left in a hurry. All of the other airlines had people manning their respective desks. I started to get a very bad feeling. Chaos was ensuing amongst the tired crowds of forsaken EasyJet victims. We talked to a security guard who insinuated that this was their standard operating procedure. When these types of catastrophic episodes of utter incompetence and disorganization occur, the EasyJet employees go into hiding (or simply leave) so that they don’t have to deal with the aggrieved masses.
    My wife was crying at this point because she had relatives scheduled to visit her back in Geneva the next day, and she wasn’t going to be able to pick them up from the airport.
    Without any instruction or guidance from EasyJet we had no choice but to rent a hotel room at the Sofitel hotel at Gatwick. This was about 90 pounds. I booked a flight out of London Heathrow the next afternoon with British Airways.
    I am still in the process of fighting for my refund. They have reimbursed me for the BA flight after several email exchanges, but I have not received any further compensation, (e.g. the canceled EasyJet flight, the Hotel room, or the bus fare to Heathrow). Because of EasyJet I have lost close to 300 euros. If I don’t get the rest of my just compensation I will embark on a lifelong Anti-EasyJet advertisement campaign. This posting is only the beginning.

  6. Thomas
    April 22nd, 2010 @ 7:15 am

    Hi RC,

    Seems we’re not the only ones….My sister is also still pursuing compensation to which she is meant to be entitled by European law, but Easyjet have pulled the “Extraordinary circumstances” card (loophole) which I have read they do at every opportunity.

    In short, all Easyjet does is they state there were “Extraordinary circumstances” (ie a technical problem with the plane) and that it was unsafe to fly. This is the ONLY loophole that will allow them to get out of paying the standard 250 Euros compensation that the ATUC outlines here
    http://www.auc.org.uk/default.aspx?catid=306&pagetype=90&pageid=9367

    Easyjet are liers. Basically there was NO technical problem with the plane – it was an internal dispute. Is the onus on US to prove this or on the airline to prove the “Extraordinary circumstances”…I wonder.

  7. Thomas
    April 22nd, 2010 @ 7:42 am

    Just answered my own question. The legal onus is on the airline.

    “It must be observed that the Community legislature intended to confer exemption from the obligation to pay compensation to passengers in the event of cancellation of flights not in respect of all extraordinary circumstances, but only in respect of those which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.

    The airline must prove that it had taken all reasonable measures. For those of you that wish to read more – there was a case brought to court a couple of years ago that ruled against the airline even though it had a provable technical fault with one of its engines:

    http://www.auc.org.uk/docs/306/Wallentin-Hermann%20Judgement%20-%2022%20Dec%2008.pdf

  8. Uncleboko
    August 21st, 2012 @ 9:25 pm

    The answer is to simply not use easyjet. We use either Monarch or British Airways – excellent cabin crew and no riff raff on flights.

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