EasyJet cancel London to Belfast flight and offer stranded passenger a 2,300-mile round trip to Malaga instead

Not Belfast: The city beach in Malaga (Simon Calder)
Not Belfast: The city beach in Malaga (Simon Calder)

Fly from London to Belfast via Malaga: that was the option offered to one passenger after dozens of easyJet flights were cancelled on Sunday.

Nigel Goddard, from Ballymena in Northern Ireland, was one of hundreds of passengers stranded at London Gatwick after two flights to Belfast International and another to George Best Belfast City were grounded.

The airline blamed the high number of cancellations on “the impact of adverse weather and air traffic control delays”.

Mr Goddard checked the easyJet app for alternatives and was offered a Monday morning flight from Gatwick to Malaga at 5.45am. He would have arrived at the Costa del Sol hub at 9.40am, with a wait of almost four hours before the 1.25pm flight to Belfast international.

The connection would have provided the opportunity for a swim in the Mediterranean at Playa del Guardalmar, a half-hour hike from the terminal at Malaga airport – as long as the traveller had packed swimwear.

But Mr Goddard was unable to take up the option due to not carrying his passport.

“I was only on a domestic flight, so I left it at home.”

The total distance proposed was 2,266 miles – over six times further than the direct 350-mile journey from Gatwick.

An easyJet spokesperson said: “We are sorry that Mr Goddard’s flight from London Gatwick to Belfast on Sunday was unable to operate due to a technical issue on the aircraft’s previous flight and air traffic control restrictions caused by adverse weather leading to the crew reaching their safety regulated operating hours.

“We provided hotel accommodation and meals as well as options to receive a refund or rebook through our self-service tool, which is designed to help customers rebook quickly and easily for free, providing direct and indirect flights depending on availability.

“While indirect routing can work well for a lot of our network, particularly in Europe, we understand that on this occasion the option provided was not suitable. However, customers also have the option to book with another carrier if suitable easyJet flights are not available and we will reimburse them.

“We have contacted Mr Goddard to apologise for the inconvenience, reimburse any expenses and provide the compensation he is due.”

In the event of disruption airlines are obliged to get passengers to their destination as soon as possible, including on a rival carrier if that is the best solution. Typically the airline that cancels a flight will offer a wide range of connections on its own services, including routings that are indirect.

After British Airways cancelled its Malaga-Southampton flight on Saturday, BA offered one passenger a flight three days later via Dublin, rather than a direct same-day departure to London Heathrow and a bus connection.

The passenger booked instead on a nonstop Ryanair flight from Malaga to nearby

A British Airways spokesperson told The Independent on the day:“We’ve apologised to customers for the disruption to their travel plans and our teams are working to get them on their way as soon as possible.”

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