After the storm: Flight chaos causes traveller misery

Poor communication from airlines a common feature of all travellers’ tales

Ciara Reddan says passengers at Lyon airport were trapped on an escalator without food or water for over an hour.

Ciara Reddan says passengers at Lyon airport were trapped on an escalator without food or water for over an hour.


While airlines forced by Storm Emma to cancel hundreds of flights have been getting schedules back on track, many people stranded by the snow are still picking up the pieces and trying to get home.

Siobhán Gallagher’s teenage son flew with Ryanair to Paris last Tuesday for a three-day trip with his girlfriend. His return flight late on Thursday night was cancelled and his mother “immediately followed Ryanair’s advice and attempted to change the flights”.

She was unable to find return flights on the Ryanair website until Tuesday, March 6th, so she booked flights home to Dublin with Aer Lingus for Saturday. “As I could not make contact with Ryanair by phone, email or on their supposedly live chat, I booked and paid for these flights myself,” she writes, a total of €420.

There were two additional nights in a Paris hotel, which cost €190, as well as food and other costs.

Her son’s Aer Lingus flight was then cancelled and after being unable to find a seat with Aer Lingus she booked flights home for her son and his girlfriend for Sunday at a cost of €340. She also had to book another two nights in a hotel at a cost of €180.

She has applied to Aer Lingus for a refund and will have to recoup costs from Ryanair too. “It has proved utterly impossible to contact either airline,” she said. “I gave my son my credit card in case of emergencies before he left – isn’t it lucky I did. A budget trip for three days and two nights has become a very costly six-night nightmare.”

‘Stuck in Lyon airport’

Clara Reddan was “stuck in Lyon airport” on Friday evening. “Our Aer Lingus flight was due to depart at 3.30pm but we were given no information whatsoever from Dublin. No one seemed to know what was going on and there were no Aer Lingus staff around to let us know what was happening.” After three hours in the airport they were told the flight was delayed for six hours.

“We were given food vouchers but not before an airport employee locked 60 people in a glass room with just an escalator for an hour on the pretence that the vouchers were at the bottom of the escalator,” she said. “They locked families and a pregnant woman into the small room with no toilet, food or water. A woman had to call the French police to ring the airport to let us out. No apologies or reasons [were] given for this.”

Eventually, six hours after their flight was due to depart they received notification their flight had been cancelled. With all Aer Lingus flights booked out until Wednesday and “with no other option, or information from Aer Lingus, we are now back at the airport and have had to book separate flights to Manchester and then on to Dublin with a different airline”.

Aoife Cashman was due to return home from a week’s holiday in Malaga last Wednesday but her Ryanair flight was cancelled. She rescheduled for Saturday only to have that cancelled too. The next available flight was Tuesday but she “dithered momentarily” and that was gone. She checked Aer Lingus and that was booked solid for a week. Instead she travelled to Madrid after finding a flight out of there for later on Sunday.

John Kennedy lives in Ennis and was due to fly to Prague from Dublin on Saturday afternoon with Ryanair and then back on Monday with Aer Lingus. “We would have to leave home by 9am to get to Dublin. We contacted both airlines to see what our options were as it was most likely we wouldn’t be able to travel due to the amount of snow on the roads.”

He says they were “pretty much told” that if the flight departed as scheduled and they weren’t on it they wouldn’t get a refund even though they were unable to travel to make the flight. “We contacted the hotel as well and same response. I can understand the hotels stance but [am] a bit put out by the airline’s take.”