Stuck Brits scramble to get home after axed flightson June 7, 2022 at 11:03 am

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Many travellers are taking drastic action to get home after being stranded due to flight cancellations.

Person waiting in airport

Image source, Getty Images

Thousands of people have been stranded abroad after flights were cancelled but while some wait around others are taking matters into their own hands.

Harshal Shah is stuck in Crete after his flight to take his family and two other families home was axed on Monday.

Rather than wait for a later EasyJet flight, Mr Shah has spent £6,000 more to fly with Jet2 to Birmingham and then take a taxi to his home in London.

He is one of many taking drastic action to get home from their trips abroad.

Airlines have cancelled hundreds of flights over the past week due to staff shortages, with many at short notice over the bank holiday weekend.

While some families never reached their destination or arrived late, others have found their return flights are not operating.

On Tuesday, EasyJet was reported to have cancelled at least 35 flights, with London Gatwick the worst affected airport. This follows on from Monday when 37 journeys were axed.

Meanwhile Hungarian carrier Wizz Air axed up to seven flights due to serve UK airports.

The disruption is being driven by staff shortages across the aviation industry.

Mr Shah, who spent a week in Crete with his family and friends for their first holiday since before coronavirus, said he received a message from EasyJet saying his return flight had been cancelled four hours before it was due to depart on Monday.

Mr Shah said the next available EasyJet flight wasn’t until Thursday so the group of families decided to book new flights with Jet2 – costing them thousands of pounds – as they were worried their return trip home could be delayed further, making the children miss more school and adults work.

He’s chosen to fly to Birmingham and says he’s got no choice but to pay for a taxi from that airport to his home in London.

The general manager told the BBC the disruption had cost the group up to an extra £6,000 on top of their holiday spends, due to the new flights, accommodation and food for two further nights.

Mr Shah said he tried to get in touch with EasyJet but received “no response at all”.

“The communication in terms of everything is shocking,” he added. “Honestly, EasyJet, they should not be EasyJet at all – it’s not easy at all.”

Alex Settle and friends

Image source, AlexSettle

Elsewhere, Alex Settle, a police officer from Hull and her hen party of 14 were told their flight from Portugal to Manchester had been cancelled by EasyJet when they arrived at the airport.

EasyJet re-booked them on a Wednesday flight back to UK – but the group were worried of more cancellations from the airlines and so booked a Jet2 flight for Tuesday instead.

It has come at a cost to the group, with each individual having to pay an extra £366 each for the new flight and an extra night’s stay.

“It’s been really stressful, with lots of tears,” said Alex. “This has really tainted the whole trip.

“We were given no reason for EasyJet’s cancellation. We don’t trust EasyJet and don’t want to play EasyJet roulette anymore.”

The group are due to arrive at Luton Airport in the early hours of Thursday, and are now having to plan how to get back to Hull.

EasyJet has not responded to repeated requests for comment from the BBC, but Gatwick Airport said a total of nine departure flights had been cancelled at short notice on Wednesday, with eight of those being operated by EasyJet.

Gatwick said the airport was operating normally today but would be busy.

“We continue to advise passengers to arrive at the airport as soon as check-in opens for their flight. Typically, this is 3 hours for long-haul and 2-2 ½ for short-haul,” it said.

Families have been particularly affected by Sunday’s disruption, with children stranded abroad as schools return and the exam season begins.

Airlines have been being blamed for taking more bookings than they can manage following staff cuts during the height of the pandemic when travel ground to a halt.

But industry leaders have said the government could have done more to support the sector.

‘Very sorry’

It has also called for immigration rules on hiring overseas workers to be relaxed to plug staff shortages, but Transport Secretary Grant Shapps ruled out such a move.

Before Covid, airports and airlines across Britain employed around 140,000 people, but since then thousands of jobs have been cut, including around 30,000 for UK airlines alone.

EasyJet has previously said it was “very sorry” for flights being cancelled and said the disruption was caused by “the ongoing challenging operating environment”.

“Customers are being provided with options to rebook or receive a refund, as well as hotel accommodation and meals where required, along with information on how to arrange this quickly online or via the app,” a spokeswoman said.

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