Britain’s biggest budget airline has been accused of failing to observe European passengers’ rights rules at its home airport. But easyJet insists it offered 158 stranded passengers flights on other airlines when a Luton-Geneva service was cancelled at short notice.
Thursday evening’s flight EZY2061 was initially shown as being delayed by 45 minutes, but was then abruptly cancelled. According to easyJet, the cause was the knock-on effects of thunderstorm activity on previous sectors.
The crew were not able to operate the service because of flight time limitations. After a shuttle to Pisa and back, the crew scheduled to operate the flight had arrived at Luton almost an hour late.
One passenger tweeted: “Thanks @easyJet @easyJet_press – 18:10 Luton to Geneva cancelled last minute and 10th wedding anniversary plans ruined. Chaos at Luton.”
In the event of a cancellation, European legislation stipulates that passengers who want to continue with their journey must be offered re-routing, under comparable transport conditions, to their final destination at the earliest opportunity.
British Airways and Swiss had plenty of empty seats on services to Geneva on Friday.
But some easyJet passengers say they were told that they would not be able to fly until Sunday.
Susan Griffith from Cambridge was travelling to Annecy in the French Alps for a wedding on Saturday. But after queuing for four hours at the customer service desk at Luton airport, she said:They offered to put us on the first easyJet flight, which was on Sunday.
They said: We have no access to any flights apart from easyJet flights.
As a result, Ms Griffith paid £265 for a one-way Eurostar rail ticket from London to Paris on Friday, with an onward train to Annecy. She was due to arrive 24 hours after the expected arrival at Geneva.
The airline insists every passenger was offered the chance to travel to Geneva on an alternative airline.
An easyJet spokesperson said: While the situation is outside of our control, we would like to apologise to passengers for any inconvenience.
The airline says it will not pay cash compensation under European rules, as the cancellation was due to extraordinary circumstance. However, Coby Benson of the law firm Bott & Co said: The courts have ruled on countless occasions that in order for bad weather to be extraordinary it must affect the flight concerned.
The inbound leg of the service, flight EZY2062 from Geneva to Luton, was also cancelled.
In April, The Independent revealed that easyJet had removed a London couple from a flight from Luton to Sicily, then failed to inform them of their entitlements.
Even though the easyJet headquarters is adjacent to the terminal at Luton airport, the couple were told to talk to a call centre in South Africa, whose staff repeatedly misled them about their rights and options.
Two weeks ago an easyJet flight from Glasgow to Luton took off with empty seats, even though passengers who had been denied boarding pleaded with gate staff to be able to travel.