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Beds Are Laid Out for Passengers Stranded in Europe for a Second Night as Air Traffic Control Misery


Stranded passengers have been forced to sleep on beds laid out on an airport floor while others have been warned not to travel following an air traffic control glitch that has caused hundreds of flights to be cancelled. 

Travellers have said they feel abandoned – with some sleeping on cold airport floors surrounded by cockroaches or without food and water.  

Matthew Creed, 26, became stuck at Schiphol Amsterdam Airport yesterday after his flight with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines to Edinburgh was cancelled.

KLM booked him a new flight to Edinburgh departing at 9.50pm today, however, the drama student had to spend the night at the airport while waiting for the flight.

Mr Creed, noting how it was ‘not ideal’ sleeping on a folding bed with ‘pillows and blankets’ in the airport, later found out that KLM had booked him a hotel but claims the air carrier failed to inform him of this.

Tens of thousands of airline passengers have been left stranded across Europe after suffering flight cancellations due to the knock-on impact of an air traffic control fault, with some being told they won’t be able to get a flight home for a staggering 12 days.

Data shows at least 281 flights – including departures and arrivals – were cancelled today at the UK’s six busiest airports.

In the meantime, families have scrambled to secure hotel rooms for their unexpectedly prolonged stay, often at inflated prices, paying hundreds of pounds per night.

The boss of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) confirmed today that passengers can expect to be provided with food and drink as well as accommodation if delayed overnight.

But scores of people reported having to spend the night sleeping on the floor of airports, with many more complaining about the lack of a proper meal. 

And consumer champions Which? have now demanded immediate action from the CAA to force airlines to help passengers.

The editor of Which? Travel, Rory Boland, told the Mail: ‘We’re seeing worrying reports of passengers being left stranded without support, and airlines failing to properly communicate with their passengers or fulfil their legal obligations.

‘In particular, travellers should be aware that their airline has a responsibility to reroute them as soon as possible, even if that means buying them a ticket with a rival carrier – a rule that some airlines appear to be ignoring.

‘Passengers should also be given food and refreshments and overnight accommodation if required.’ 

He added: ‘Passengers understand that this is not an issue caused by airlines, but are frustrated by the poor communication and lack of care they receive from carriers.

‘During travel crises we see repeat offending from airlines looking to wriggle out of their legal responsibilities knowing that they’re unlikely to face any real consequences for leaving passengers high and dry during periods of disruption.’ 

Mr Boland said the CAA should ‘stand ready to take enforcement action against any airline found to be failing in its responsibilities to passengers’.

Mr Creed, who worked in Hong Kong for three years, was initially flying from the former British city to Edinburgh with a stopover in Doha on Qatar Airways. 

He had planned to see his family in Scotland before beginning his master’s degree in drama in London.

When he arrived in Hong Kong, Qatar Airways informed him that his ticket was on standby. Upon arrival in Doha, he was notified that he did not have a seat on the flight to Edinburgh, which was ‘nerve-racking’ for him.

Qatar then transferred him on a KLM flight to Amsterdam – he arrived at 3am on Monday only to discover the Dutch airliner had cancelled his next flight to Edinburgh.

‘(I) got to Amsterdam about three o’clock yesterday, waiting for the next flight about 4.50am, and then realised there was a massive queue in the middle of the airport,’ he recalled.

‘People were heading towards the exit or towards desks for KLM, who were operating the flight that Qatar had put me on. Then I looked at the board and realised my flight was cancelled.’

He said: ‘They were helping people for a long amount of time, there were long queues, and there were only four or five agents trying to help people.

‘Then they just kind of said we’re closing all of their desks and everybody needs to find their own accommodation or find out their own way to sort things out.

‘We heard that there was a gate at the end of the airport where they were putting out pillows and blankets and things, so that’s where we had to sleep last night… which wasn’t ideal.’

Mr Creed paid for access to KLM’s Crown Lounges at Amsterdam Airport in order to have a shower and eat some food, with the hope of being reimbursed for the cost.

He was informed by KLM the next morning that it had booked a hotel for him.

He said: ‘I was told, actually, we had a hotel booked for you last night, why didn’t you stay there?

‘I said, nobody has emailed me and let me know… I wasn’t able to speak to someone because all the desks were closed.

‘So I stayed in the airport for no reason.’

Earlier today Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said he is still waiting for an explanation for bank holiday Monday’s flight chaos more than 24 hours after the ATC failure threw British travel into chaos. 

Mr O’Leary hit out at Nats for failing to provide answers as to what crippled its system for several hours on Monday.

‘We still haven’t had an explanation from them, what exactly caused this failure yesterday and where were their back-up systems,’ Mr O’Leary said in a video posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Another disrupted passenger, Michael McDonnell, a 28-year-old consultant from London, became stranded in Berlin with his partner Sarah, 28, for three nights after their British Airways flight was cancelled.

The consultant was meant to fly to Heathrow Airport from Berlin Brandenburg Airport at 9.20am on Monday before his flight was cancelled.

He said he received ‘very little communication’ from the British airliner before being notified that he and his partner had been rebooked on a flight leaving on August 31, stranding them for three nights.

‘They told us we need to give them a call to change and rebook our flight online, but we couldn’t get access online because the website wasn’t working,’ Mr McDonnell said.

‘We couldn’t call them as their line was too busy and then it would hang up.

‘We did end up getting through to someone and we got rebooked onto the next flight on Thursday morning.’

The couple returned to the city centre of Berlin and rebooked at a hotel they had previously visited for their bank holiday weekend.

He explained: ‘They (British Airways) didn’t pay for the hotel, we paid for it. We paid £150 per night for the hotel.’

In a statement, British Airways said: ‘Like other airlines operating in the UK, we are continuing to experience the knock-on effects of yesterday’s NATS Air Traffic Control issue, which includes unavoidable delays and cancellations.

‘Customers travelling today or tomorrow on short-haul services can move their flight to a later date free of charge if they wish, subject to availability.

‘We’ve apologised for the huge inconvenience caused, which was outside of our control and thank our customers for their patience as we work hard to get back on track.’

Schiphol Airport, Qatar Airways and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines have been approached for comment. 

Ken Blanks, a 71-year-old from Bristol, said he and his wife had to turn down a £50 per night night hotel in Las Palmas until the next flight in just under two weeks because they cannot afford it.

He blasted easyJet for not offering them anywhere to stay and not communicating with them, telling The Sun: ‘I’ve finished my holiday in Gran Canaria but there’s nobody from easyJet talking to us. They don’t care a damn about us.

‘The next flight is in 12 days so we are stuck here. The airport offered some families with kids hotels but they have to keep getting taxis there and back. It’s 200 euros from the airport to the hotel. No one has the money for it. I can’t afford a hotel. And there’s nobody here to tell us anything.’

This evening easyJet announced it would run five repatriation flights to Gatwick following ATC fault. Flights will be offered from Palma and Faro tomorrow, and Tenerife and Enfidha on Thursday August 31 and from Rhodes on Friday September 1.

Larger aircrafts will also be used by the airline over the coming days on key routes including Faro, Ibiza, Dalaman and Tenerife to provide some additional 700 seats.

Source: Daily Mail

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