Stranded Flybe passengers: How airlines and rail companies are helping passengers and staff get home
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Following Wednesday night’s collapse of U.K.-based regional carrier Flybe, travellers and staff have been left stranded across the country and beyond. Airlines and rail companies alike have begun offering their services to help the stranded passengers and crew of the former largest regional airline in Europe get home.
As many of the airline’s flights were domestic within the U.K. and based out of secondary airports, there has been no need for a repatriation effort anywhere near as grand as the biggest the industry has seen since war times following the collapse of Thomas Cook in 2019.
Related reading: The UK’s best and worst airports
Instead, airlines and rail companies operating routes across the U.K. are coming up with different ways to make sure passengers aren’t left stranded. In most cases, passengers must show booking confirmations or boarding passes of cancelled flights, and Flybe staff must show proof of employment.
The sadness of the collapse of Flybe is being felt across the continent and the world, not least by those employed by the airline, echoed by Flybe pilot Emil Nilsson who reportedly operated the airline’s last flight on Wednesday night — BE2111 from Edinburgh (EDI) to London (LHR).
Before entering administration as of Wednesday night, Flybe was saved from bankruptcy by the U.K. government in January. Additionally, it was saved in 2019. The airline, set to become Virgin Connect after its Virgin Atlantic-backed acquisition, couldn’t withstand the downtick in passenger demand caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
“Sadly, despite the efforts of all involved to turn the airline around, not least the people of Flybe, the impact of COVID-19 on Flybe’s trading means that the consortium can no longer commit to continued financial support”, Virgin Atlantic said in a statement.
Here’s a look at what travel companies are doing to get those who are stranded home.
As Flybe was set to become part of the Virgin brand, passengers have been able to purchase tickets with Flybe through the Virgin Atlantic website. Virgin has released a chart, giving passengers information about what to do if you purchased a Flybe ticket.
If you booked directly through the Virgin Atlantic website and your ticket included either just Flybe flights or both Flybe and Virgin Atlantic flights, then passengers are advised to message this number: 07481 339184. If you haven’t yet taken your first Flybe flight, then, unfortunately, the airline says it will be unable to provide you with an alternative, but passengers are asked to contact the airline to discuss the refund process. Passengers with Virgin Atlantic flights on the booking will automatically receive refunds for the Flybe flights.
However, if you’ve taken one of the flights on your booking already, then the airline will provide alternatives to get you back to your original destination.
The airline will be unable to help those passengers who booked their Flybe flights through the Flybe website and are advised to consult the CAA website.
Blue Islands, an airline based in the Channel Islands, is operating a flight from Jersey (JER) to Exeter (EXT) on Thursday afternoon as a gesture of goodwill, according to the BBC.
British Airways said on Thursday that it will be offering £50 flights to passengers who are stranded. For Flybe staff who are stranded, British Airways is offering to bring them home for free.
BA is telling affected passengers to call the airline directly in order to book either passenger fares or staff travel.
The low-cost carrier is helping those who are left stranded to get home by offering reduced fares.
“We are sorry to see the news about Flybe and appreciate the anxiety that their customers will be facing now”, the airline said in a statement to TPG U.K. “EasyJet is working to help affected passengers by offering a dedicated rescue fee for customers up until the end of May. A fare of £65 (€72) including a 15kg hold bag will be available on presentation their original Flybe booking reference”.
Additionally, the airline said that between 5-6 March, it will be offering free flights for Flybe staff to get them home.
Loganair, based in Scotland, had a codeshare agreement with Flybe and has therefore been overwhelmed with passengers calling for assistance. In a statement on the airline’s website, the airline is asking for patience while it formulates a plan:
“We are currently working on how to best help our customers booked with or via Flybe and will update our website and social media throughout the day”.
Ryanair announced it will be introducing rescue fares from €19.99 on five U.K. routes that will be available to book until midnight on 8 March for travel until the end of April.
The routes included will be:
- Liverpool (LPL) ⇒ Knock (NOC)
- Bournemouth (BOU) ⇒ Dublin (DUB)
- Belfast (BFS) ⇒ London Stansted (STN)
- Bristol (BRS) ⇒ Dublin (DUB)
- Belfast (BFS) ⇒ Manchester (MAN)
Train operators up and down the U.K. are also offering a hand to those who are stranded. It’s worth noting that there is likely to be an increase in passenger numbers on trains across the U.K. through the rest of the week, so passengers may face a more crowded journey than usual.
Here are updates from some of the main operators with the largest networks.
LNER, which operates routes from London to the North East and Scotland, is offering free standard class travel for Flybe passengers and staff to help those stranded to travel home on Thursday.
“We are pleased to be able to offer free standard travel to help people return home following the collapse of Flybe”, LNER Commercial Director Suzanne Donnelly said in a statement.
CrossCountry is offering free standard off-peak travel with an extended travel period until the end of the day on 8 March for Flybe passengers and staff. The CrossCountry network spans from the South West through the midlands and up into Scotland via the East Coast with additional branches to Stansted, Reading and Bournemouth.
West Midlands Trains
West Midlands Trains, the group name for West Midlands Railway and London Northwestern Railway, has services from Liverpool to London and across the West Midlands. Passengers will be able to use the company’s services for free until Wednesday, 11 March.
FirstGroup Rail, the consortium owning Avanti West Coast, TransPennine Express, South Western Railway, Hull Trains and Great Western Railway, is offering free travel for passengers and staff affected by Flybe’s collapse. Free travel across the network is permitted for journeys until 12 March.
If you’re a passenger or member of staff who has been affected by Flybe’s demise, there are many options to make sure you don’t end up stranded. For further information about what the Flybe collapse means for you, check out this guide for everything you need to know.
Featured image by Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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