A “gutted” sales executive said he estimates he and his wife are “about £2,200 out of pocket” due to an air traffic control glitch which resulted in their flight from Crete being cancelled.
Tom Perry, 31, who is based in Cornwall, told the PA news agency that he and his wife discovered their easyJet flight for Monday night from Heraklion airport to Luton had been cancelled about an hour before they planned to leave for the airport.
The couple ultimately booked flights home for Friday for £1,172 and are “gutted” to have to pay for new flights with a different airline without getting a refund for their original booking, Mr Perry said.
Mr Perry said they have had to pay “around £300” towards extending their stay at a villa in Sissi, Crete, as well as paying for a parking space for additional days at Luton airport and their dog to stay at a kennel.
Mr Perry’s wife, Ella, 27, is an NHS nurse who could “lose pay or annual leave”, he said.
Travel delays started on Monday after a UK air traffic control failure, which meant flight plans had to be input manually by controllers.
More airline passengers suffered flight cancellations on Tuesday due to the knock-on impact.
The air traffic control failure was caused by flight data received by National Air Traffic Services (Nats), with both primary and back-up systems responding by suspending automatic processing, chief executive Martin Rolfe said on Tuesday.
Mr Perry said he had become concerned that his flight might be affected by the air traffic control glitch on the day of his flight.
He said: “Earlier in the day, probably six or seven hours previous, we saw that there were delays so I was keeping an eye on that.”
He said the couple’s flight was initially pushed back until 7am the following day “but as the day went on it got better and better and better and then eventually got to an hour and a half delay from the original time of the flight.”
Then, about an hour before they left for the airport, the easyJet app announced that their flight had been cancelled, Mr Perry said.
He said: “The communication was very, very poor, I would say. We got an email eventually, probably about an hour after the app updated, to say it was cancelled, to say, ‘Yes, it’s cancelled.’”
Mr Perry said he contacted easyJet and booked a new return flight for next Monday, with no extra charge, as “that was the only [direct flight] available” at the time.
Mr Perry said: “Then, about an hour later, I looked online and found one that goes from Crete airport this coming Friday with Jet2, so we booked with them to go back to Bristol.
“We live in Cornwall, so we’re going to go back to Bristol, get a lift back to Luton, pick our car up, and then go back to Cornwall.”
Mr Perry said he has requested a refund for the return flights portion of his £907 round trip flights but easyJet had declined.
He said: “I understand these things happen – I work in sales myself, I understand things happen – but it’s the way you look after customers, customer service, and the way [easyJet has] handled it is shocking.
“The fact that they can’t give a refund on flights that were issued…when they’re selling those flights for £400 a piece is a bit of a joke.
“I could have got them off the phone in five minutes if they had said ‘Yep, no problem at all. It would have been done and dusted.
He added: “I wouldn’t book with them again. They said that they’re a low cost airline so it is what it is, but I wouldn’t be booking with them again.”
PA understands that easyJet has offered the couple a refund for their return flight in a statement shared on Wednesday morning.
EasyJet told PA: “We have been doing everything we can to minimise the impact of the disruption, providing customers with information on their options to transfer their flight for free or receive a refund, securing hotel accommodation where possible and advising any customers who make their own accommodation or alternative travel arrangements that they will be reimbursed.
“While this is outside of our control, we apologise for the difficulty this has caused and we remain focused on doing all possible to assist and repatriate our customers as soon as possible at this very busy time of year.”