A PhD student has described the "journey from hell" after easyJet cancelled her flight while she was on the way to the airport and claims she was then offered her a hotel 55 miles away, during a heatwave and with rail service severely affected.
The first of many blows for Rachel Reid McCann, from Belfast, was the trains to Luton Airport being cancelled as two dozen services leaving from London King's Cross and Euston stations were axed or delayed Monday, July 18, one of the UK's hottest ever days.
Then, as the 27-year-old came back through the gates and into King's Cross where people were "dropping like flies due to the 38 degrees heat", easyJet cancelled her flight from Luton to Belfast via text "without saying why."
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"It was like the apocalypse, I felt like I was in a TV show," she said of she and her girlfriend Megan's ordeal. "Honestly, the whole journey was insane, we couldn't help but laugh."
"Monday was the worst day ever because Megan got laid off from her job in the morning and we were stuck in London with nowhere to go, it was just an absolute s***show, we felt so lost and hopeless."
Then it got worse. It transpired that the airline didn't have a flight back to Belfast for three days, so they offered her a hotel in Milton Keynes, 55 miles away.
This is despite her having stayed in London, and despite "every single train and bus being cancelled" due to the heat.
Rachel, who was in London for a wedding, booked her own stay in a "dingy, horrible" hotel near King's Cross where the staff wouldn't even provide water.
Keen to get home, Rachel took an easyJet flight the next day. She and Megan went to Glasgow in an attempt to get back to Ireland quicker
"I had to get the Tube to some place near the end of the line then got a bus from there to get to the airport," Rachel said.
"We are at the mercy of these airlines as they know we usually don’t have another option. They offer us the bare minimum when a flight is cancelled…an email apology and a hotel room 55 miles away?"
On Wednesday (July 20), Rachel took a bus from Glasgow to Cairnryan before hopping on the Stena Line and reaching Belfast a total of six hours after departing, finally arriving home at 11pm to her cocker spaniel Florence.
"I’d never been so happy to see my bed," Rachel said, adding: "My dog was fuming at me for getting home two whole days later than planned. She huffed with me all night."
EasyJet told the Star: “Due to a temporary runway closure at Luton Airport on 18th July resulting in disruption to airline flying programmes, unfortunately Ms McCann’s flight from Luton to Belfast was cancelled."
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Due to runway closure impacting all airlines and their customers, hotel availability in the immediate area was limited, the airline said.
They added that Ms McCann is being reimbursed in full for her alternative arrangements.
“The safety and wellbeing of our customers and crew is our highest priority and whilst this was outside of our control, we apologise for the difficulty this caused," a spokesperson added.
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