A group of friends have said they’ve been left thousands out of pocket by easyJet after the airline cancelled their flight at the last minute – leaving them having to rearrange an alternative journey at theireasy own expense.

Cardiology nurse, Margaux Isbecque, had booked travel to Venice from Gatwick Airport with easyJet on 27 July 2018 alongside three friends, but their holiday started disastrously.

On the day of departure, Margaux, 27, and her partner Finlay and friends, David and Nicky, arrived at Gatwick Airport with their luggage and bikes in tow in preparation for their cycling holiday.

The group were planning to explore Venice for two nights before biking through the Dolomites mountain range.

But their plans were thrown into disarray when, after being delayed already, easyJet cancelled the flight just as passengers were about to board.

The flight, first scheduled to depart at 18.45, later changed to 19.45 and then back to 19.00 on the easyJet app.

At the airport, the departure board instructed passengers to start boarding, however once queues formed, easyJet announced the news.

The excuse given by the airline was “mass disruption” due to a lack of staff and the runway being closed.

EasyJet then claimed it did not have the capacity to rebook passengers onto alternative flights or help at all, leaving Margaux and her friends to fend for themselves.

It later transpired that another 13 flights had been cancelled that day – which explained the lack of alternative arrangements.

It quickly became clear that they were priced out of direct flights to Venice, as the cancellations had caused fares to skyrocket to well over £1,000 each.

Eventually Margaux’s dad, a regular flier, helped them find an indirect flight with KLM from Newcastle Airport instead, which cost a huge £1,936 between them. 

However, the new flight was not due to take off until the next evening, 28 July.

By the time they left Gatwick, it was midnight. They travelled way back to Margaux’s flat in central London, which cost them an extra £85 as they had to get a taxi big enough to fit all of their bikes.

But the extra costs didn’t end there; other extra charges included taxi and train fares, as well as a wasted paid night at their Air BnB.

The next day, they made the long journey via train up to Newcastle, which amassed yet more costs – £508 between them.

When the party of four finally arrived in Venice, it was a whole day later than planned.

They missed a night’s stay at the Air Bnb which they had paid £133 for – a loss easyJet later refused to reimburse them for.

“We were gutted to miss out on the opportunity to properly explore Venice, as that was supposed to be one of the main highlights of our trip. easyJet completely derailed our whole schedule,” Margaux said.

Radio silence from easyJet

After easyJet’s promise to refund all passengers for the extra cost incurred in getting to Venice, Margaux submitted all receipts on her return back to the UK.

“They ignored us for the best part of three months. I called and I called… sometimes I was put on hold for three hours. When I finally got through, they fobbed me off with an excuse about a delay,” Margaux said.

“EasyJet didn’t pay us back until we had filed a claim with the small claims court. They pretended they had but I never actually got the money in my account until they had received a notice from the courts that we would be pursuing them.”

Becoming increasingly frustrated, Margaux decided to pursue a claim against easyJet with the Small Claims Court.

But this came with its own problems, as it cost £120 to file the claim and as the court date approached, easyJet were difficult once more, refuting the claim which meant that the four would have to physically go to court rather than it being reviewed on paper.

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Due to the stress and extra fees, Margaux cancelled the claim and turned to law firm Bott and Co for help.

“The most important thing to us is that easyJet had to pay. Bott and Co helped us ensure that justice was served – airlines always think they can get away from their duties, but not this time,” Margaux said.

Coby Benson, flight delay compensation solicitor, said, “We’re delighted to have recovered 250 Euros each for this group. Margaux and her friends amassed huge extra costs through no fault of their own, and their entire trip was thrown into question.

“Under EU Regulation 261/2004, airlines have a duty to put passengers on the next available flight to their intended destination, even if that flight happens to be with a rival airline.

“But in this instance, the party of four had to travel hundreds of miles by train and experienced unexpected financial pressure. The communications, or lack of communications from easyJet after the flight disruption is sadly all too familiar, and a good example of why we fight for passengers’ rights day in and day out.”

Eventually the four friends were awarded with €250 each under EU flight Regulation 261/2004.

Compensation for all passengers

Mirror Money got in touch with easyJet on the back of Margaux’s experience – who have now agreed to compensate the passengers for all expenses incurred during their trip.

“We are sorry the group’s flight from London Gatwick to Venice on 27 July 2018 was cancelled.  This was due to an earlier runway closure and subsequent restrictions caused by thunderstorms,” a statement said.

“This meant the crew due to operate the flight reached their maximum legal operating hours. Customers on the cancelled flight were eligible for refunds and transfers onto alternative flights and they could do this using our disruption tool at easyJet.com.    

“Although weather was the root cause and  this was outside of our control, on this occasion, we have decided to settle the matter and are paying the group compensation. We can confirm the group’s expenses have already been settled.”