A young couple had to spend EUR620 on an eleventh hour Ryanair flights after their Aer Lingus trip was cancelled and they risked losing a EUR2,500 holiday package to Portugal.
On the day that their flight was cancelled, Aer Lingus offered the couple seats on an alternative flight… departing six days later.
Engineer Austin Kielty (26) and teacher Megan Bilbow (24), from Roscommon, had travelled for three hours to Dublin Airport on Sunday and stood in a queue from 2.30pm until 4.30pm before receiving a text message saying their 7pm flight to Faro had been cancelled.
“We were really looking forward to the holiday,” Mr Kielty told the Irish Independent.
“As soon as we went to check our bags in the drop-in and a notice said we were too late to check in – even though the flight was not until 7pm – we knew something was wrong.
“We asked an Aer Lingus employee, he said to join the queue.”
The couple observed that other Aer Lingus passengers, flying to other destinations, were leaving the queue as their flights were being cancelled.
“We asked was ours,” Mr Kielty recalled. “The Aer Lingus staff said ‘no’.”
By 4.30pm, there were “only a few people left in the queue”, and the couple were told their flight had been cancelled.
“We were told to go to a check-in and we could stay in a hotel until flights were arranged.”
However, the couple knew they were at risk of losing their EUR2,500 holiday in Albufeira, on Portugal’s Algarve coast, plus they had both booked a week off work.
So they tried to get another flight and found one to Faro, also on the Algarve, with Ryanair at 8.30pm.
“The Aer Lingus flights were booked out the next day,” Mr Kielty said.
“I looked at Ryanair and they had a flight to Faro that was still available at 8.30pm.
“It was EUR620 for the both of us but we didn’t want to lose our package and transfers or waste the week off work.
“We literally ran to Terminal 1. When we were queuing, a text came in from Aer Lingus to say they had an availability on a flight to Faro on Friday, July 1, almost a week after our original flight.
“Waiting six days would have seen us lose our package. It wouldn’t have worked. We had to make it over to our package or it was gone.”
The couple made the Ryanair flight and finally got to their hotel at 2.30am.
They are delighted to be on the holiday but are worried they may not get a refund on the Aer Lingus flight as they could not wait almost a week to take the replacement flight.
“Because Aer Lingus offered us a new flight six days later, we are concerned they won’t refund us,” Mr Kielty said.
“But we do hope that isn’t the case because we should have found out about the cancellation far earlier.
“A member of staff should have contacted us before we took the long journey from Roscommon to Dublin Airport to then stand in a queue going nowhere for hours.
“We also paid EUR100 to park in Dublin Airport: we would have lost that as well.
“We and the other passengers deserved more communication from Aer Lingus. We deserved more than a text which came too late.
“Aer Lingus has put us off travelling with them again.
“I feel we should be refunded for that flight. It wasn’t our fault it was cancelled and people can’t arrange their lives around when Aer Lingus can offer them a replacement flight almost a week later.
“We both took time off work. We are due to fly back Sunday and we are really happy we got here… but it was a whirlwind and we didn’t get to the hotel until 2.30am.
“We are having a great holiday but it should not have started like this, and we were lucky to get another flight.”
When contacted by the Irish Independent for a comment, Aer Lingus said it had sought to “re-accommodate disrupted passengers on the next available alternative service” and apologised to customers affected by last weekend’s cancellations. It said the cancellations were due to a combination of air traffic control strikes, “ongoing issues at airports” and a spike in Covid cases among its staff.