Budget airline Ryanair is cancelling up to 50 flights a day for the next six weeks after it “messed up” the planning of pilot holidays.
The blunder has the potential to affect up to 9,000 passengers a day.
HuffPost spoke to six people who’ve had their flights cancelled and either had to change their plans, spend more money or don’t know what to do next.
Emma Cain, 27, Milton Keynes
Emma was enjoying her hen do at a villa in Marseille with her 14 friends when she received an email from Ryanair informing that their return flight had been cancelled.
She told HuffPost UK: “For three hours, we looked frantically at every possible solution. Flights weren’t available for all of us so we prioritised those with children and booked them onto the last few remaining seats on other airlines.”
The remaining holiday goers were “stumped” as to what they would do and ended up cutting their trip short to make the 27-hour bus journey from Marseille to London Victoria before getting a train back to Milton Keynes.
Emma added: “To make things worse, my friend Hannah is pregnant and was very sick in a tiny toilet on the bus, her legs were swollen from sitting down for so long and it was just a horrendous journey that would have taken us just over an hour had we have flown.”
Emma said the experience has left her feeling “totally deflated” and now has concerns that her partner Chris will have the same ordeal when he goes on his stag do next month and flies with Ryanair.
She said: “I know getting any form of compensation will be a lengthy process and it’s just exhausting. I won’t ever fly with Ryanair again, I’m not willing to take the risk.
“It’s disgraceful that they can get away with this.”
Laoise Leonard, 23, Ireland
Laoise’s weekend trip to Nice for a wedding has turned into almost a week-long stay after Ryanair cancelled their flights twice.
She told HuffPost UK she was having an “absolute nightmare” trying to get home to Dublin with her boyfriend Ronan Hogan and friend Kevin Byrne Laurence, and has had to fork out a lot of extra money for accommodation and flights.
She said: “I was given six days notice originally. I was given the option to rebook, which I did for a flight due to depart two days later. I had to pay an extra €60 for that flight because, of course, short notice flights are expensive.
“I got another email yesterday informing me that my Saturday flight is also cancelled. The only refund offered was the €60. I’m now completely down on cash, it’s very stressful.
“I’ve booked two more Ryanair flights to get home, one to Stansted and then Stansted to Dublin. I’ve also had to get London accommodation that night as it’s a 12 hour wait.”
Laoise said the group have “wasted” around €500 between them and that it’s had a big impact on their holiday.
“It’s impossible to enjoy ourselves with this hanging over us,” she added.
Phil Carter, 26, Essex
Phil proposed to his pregnant partner Emily Croning, 25, towards the end of their week-long holiday in Faro with Emily’s parents Clare and Roy Trickett.
But finding out via email that Ryanair had cancelled their return flight to Stansted “put a slight downer on the holiday,” Phil told HuffPost UK.
He said they decided to sort an alternative, though “not ideal” route home - which takes an extra four hours, involves a stop in Barcelona and means they have to get a taxi from Gatwick to Stansted to collect their parked car - as the flights offered by Ryanair were unsuitable for Emily’s father.
“Roy had a heart attack earlier this year but luckily he has enough medication with him,” Phil said.
“Ryanair wanted us to reschedule our flights for next Wednesday. He would not have had enough meds on him ’til then so it’s very fortunate we had money for another flight.”
Emily Smith, 44, Birmingham
Emily’s upcoming honeymoon at the start of October with husband Lee, 45, has ended up costing the couple more money after their return flight from Barcelona was cancelled.
Emily decided to request a refund after seeing the alternative flights offered by Ryanair were unsuitable, but came up against a range of issues.
She told HuffPost UK: “The reservation number was not recognised. 23 times I’ve tried. No response to emails. Phone number in constant state of engagement, no online chat service, in fact no customer service at all.
“I’ve since taken to Twitter and still Ryanair are ignoring my request for a refund.”
Emily has had to pay another £57 to fly back to Birmingham on the date she wanted. “I’m an assembly operative, that’s like six and a half hours of back breaking work for me to part with a second time,” she said.
“The way Ryanair has treated its customers is despicable. I will never ever have anything to do with them again.”
Paul Campbell, 47, Nottingham
Paul told HuffPost UK he feels like he’s “in limbo” after attempting to contact Ryanair by phone, email, online chat and Twitter about his cancelled flight to the UK from Barcelona.
He spotted his flight in a list published in an online news article and once he received notice from Ryanair that his was one of the flights affected, he logged onto his account to find there were no alternative flights available to him.
He decided to wake up at 5.30am the next day ready to call their customer service line when it opens at 6am but never got through to anyone after waiting for 20 minutes.
“I don’t know what to do next. I don’t want to go and spend money on new flights.
“I’ve seen new flights but it is going to cost me £90 but I don’t want to spent another £90 if I’m only going to get £20 back,” he said.
Paul said the experience has “put a dampener” on his trip to Barcelona, which was supposed to be “part one of three of a honeymoon” with his wife Sam, 37.