30,000 half-term holiday plans dashed after easyJet grounds hundreds of flights

May 27, 2022

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The half-term holiday plans of up to 30,000 passengers have been plunged into chaos after an IT meltdown at easyJet forced the airline to cancel more than 200 flights.

The low-cost carrier apologised to holidaymakers whose getaway plans were shattered, some with less than an hour’s notice, thanks to a software malfunction at the company’s nerve centre on Thursday (26 May).

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Around 200 flights were cancelled yesterday with at least 14 routed to and from Gatwick called off this morning, as easyJet technicians scrambled to fix the problem.

The cancellations sparked mayhem in airports across the country, many of which are already struggling to hire enough staff to meet the surging demand for foreign travel after the pandemic.

Those flying from Gatwick, Bristol and Manchester airports have been among the worst hit, some of whom said they were Liverpool fans travelling to Paris for the Champions League final on Saturday.

Related: Passport wait times dramatically reduced — how long should it now take?

A number of flights from Edinburgh and Luton were also cancelled.

Passengers reacted with fury to the cancellations, with many turning to social media to vent their ire.

Colum Eastwood, the MP and leader of Northern Ireland’s Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), wrote on Twitter: “@easyJet have just cancelled my flight to Belfast from Gatwick half an hour before it was supposed to take off. No information for passengers. Ridiculous.”

Related: How to learn if your flight will be cancelled — even before the airline knows

Another passenger heading to Majorca wrote: “I really hope this is a mistake? Already parked the car and nearly at the airport???? How is this you letting me know ASAP?!”

A spokesperson for easyJet said: “Yesterday we operated almost 1,500 flights network-wide. Around 200 were impacted by an IT systems issue which was rectified within a couple of hours.

“Today we plan to operate around 1,700 flights but unfortunately a small number have been impacted this morning. Customers have been notified and provided with options to rebook or receive a refund.

“We are very sorry for any inconvenience caused.”

Related: Prepare for delays and cancellations on European flights this summer — how to make sure your trip runs smoothly

One woman told the BBC that passengers were told their flight had been cancelled just 10 minutes before they were due to board the plane.

Others have been stuck at airports, including Gatwick and Stansted, while there are also reports of holidaymakers stuck abroad while they wait for alternative flights home.

There were also reports of long queues snaking through airports including Luton and Heathrow this morning, as the Unite union warned that the issues could continue next week and into the summer holidays.

The statement from easyJet added: “We advise customers due to travel with us to continue to check Flight Tracker for the status of their flight before making their way to the airport.

“We apologise for the inconvenience caused and customers can apply for compensation in line with regulations.”

How to rebook or claim compensation with EasyJet

If your flight has been cancelled, EasyJet should attempt to rebook you on another flight within 24 hours.

The low-cost airline also offers passengers an air voucher (available to use for 12 months from the date of issue) or a full refund for any flight cancellations. If you request a refund the airline says it can take up to a week to process, and you can track the claim here.

Similarly to BA, the airline will provide overnight accommodation if needed. Passengers can request a room after they’ve transferred onto a new flight, or if there are any immediate issues they can contact ground staff.

Affected passengers are entitled to £220 compensation for cancelled flights or,  where the airline is at fault under the UK261 rule. For flights above 1,500km, they can claim £350.

Where there are delays of up to two and three hours, passengers are entitled to £3 vouchers (hey, it’s a bottle of water). For delays of longer than five hours you change your flights free of charge (subject to seat availability) or apply for a full refund. See more at EasyJet’s Disruption Hub.

Featured image by Robin Utrecht/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

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