Hundreds of British students and teachers who ought to have resumed at school are stranded due to the cancellation of flights to their destination.
The flight cancellation was “due to the ongoing challenging operating environment” EasyJet said as it cancelled about 80 flights on Sunday.
They tendered an apology to their customers saying – “We are very sorry and fully understand the disruption this will have caused for our customers,” the airline said, adding it was doing everything possible to get passengers to their destinations.
It’s been reported that students and teachers on a holiday ready to go back to their destination are in shock due to the lack of communication of the airline, and now are stranded and can’t go back to school; as school is back in session.
17 year old Ben, was supposed to be home on Saturday in plenty of time to take his maths GCSE on Tuesday, but after a cancelled flight and an uneasy search for train tickets, he will only just make it.
Over the weekend, more than 100 flights had been reported to be cancelled and Ben is one of the thousands of people stranded, at the moment.
Among them are hundreds of school pupils and some teachers set to miss school on Monday after half-term. They are all pretty anxious and they don’t know what lies ahead the journey home. Ben’s mother, Emma said- “Ben was going to have a couple of days at home to get his revision in, prepare mentally for it.”
His mother also made a remark saying, After their EasyJet flight home from Paris was cancelled, the earliest flight back that the airline could provide was on Tuesday – too late.
So after spending hundreds of pounds on Eurostar tickets, they are now due to arrive back at home in Stockport by 11:30 BST on Monday evening, in time for the exam on Tuesday morning.
“Hopefully he’ll get there. But there’s no guarantee,” she said. And EasyJet had been “impossible to contact and completely unhelpful”, she added.
On the other hand are people who do not appear to be as lucky because they are missing GCSE or A-level exams altogether.
Airlines are being blamed for taking more bookings than they can manage with lower post-Covid staffing levels.
But the airlines say that the government could also have done more to support the industry during the pandemic, and to help speed up the process of security checks for new staff now.
Andrew Crawley, chief commercial officer at American Express Global Business Travel, told the BBC’s Today programme said it would be “sensible” for the government to temporarily change immigration rules to allow airlines to recruit overseas workers to plug staff shortages.
He also said, “Some airlines relied on EU citizens for up to 30% of their workforce, pre-Brexit, so that labour pool no longer being available adds to the challenge that we have here.”
However, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has rejected such a request from the aviation industry.
Hundreds of flights have been cancelled over the past week. While some families never reached their destination or arrived late, others are now finding their return flights are not operating.
Younger children are also missing the start of the new half-term. So, it is not just about the exams.
Father-of-four Joe Murray from Milton Keynes says, “The curriculum is packed and losing three days from school after covid isn’t good.” He further said that there isn’t time to really catch up.
The family had booked return flights from Tenerife to be back in time for the Jubilee celebrations but missed the whole four-day weekend after Wizz Air cancelled their return twice.
“Wizz Air have had since last Wednesday to get us home, have cancelled once whilst we had checked in and were waiting at the gate, and the other four hours before the flight,” Mr Murray said.
“It’s not good enough,” he added.
The lack of communication from the airlines also threw the holiday-makers aback. They were shocked at how they weren’t carried along with the development of things
EasyJet tendered an apology for the disruption, and said that it was doing everything it could to help passengers. It has extended its customer service opening hours from 07:00 to 23:00, and said it was helping those affected find hotel accommodation.
Wizz Air also apologized and said passengers would be offered alternative flights, a full refund or 120% in airline credit, which it aimed to process within one week.
But the ongoing disruption will affect children who have not even left home, with some school staff also stranded and unable to get back in time.
It is reported that two teachers, Kelly and her husband are making their way as fast as they can from Montenegro back to Lincolnshire. After their flight home was cancelled on Sunday, EasyJet offered them an alternative flight on Thursday.
The wife said, “We are both teachers so have to get back,”. So instead they took a bus to Dubrovnik, Croatia, where they waited for more than four hours in the bus station for EasyJet to confirm their accommodation.
They will take a four-hour bus trip to Split on Monday so they can fly from there to Bristol on Tuesday. They will then get a train from Bristol to Gatwick to pick up their car and with a bit of luck be back in the classroom by Wednesday.
Considering how much trust they had in the airline, Kelly mentioned that they felt let down by EasyJet. She further mentioned – “We wanted to get back to work as soon as we possibly could and they didn’t help with that at all.”
Pol, another person who teaches in a special educational needs school in west London has had a similar experience trying to get home from Bodrum, Turkey.
He mentioned that the students at his school are quite upset because of the changes made to their teaching schedule. So he does not want to be away longer than he can avoid.
“People from home think a couple more days in the sun, it can’t be that bad being in the Mediterranean by the sea, but the point is we’re all uptight and upset and to a certain degree disgusted that in the 21st century we’re dealing with a company that prides itself on being digital but there’s no information.”
EasyJet has expressed how sorry it is to have let its customer down, and it mentioned that all hands are on deck to get the passengers back to their destination.