Passengers scheduled to take an EasyJet flight from Toulouse to Paris were left waiting on the tarmac for more than nine hours yesterday, after technical and staff issues meant the flight never took off.
The flight from Toulouse-Blagnac to Paris-Orly had been scheduled to leave at 13:30 on March 21.
But passengers became caught in a nightmare when they ended up being moved from the gate to two separate planes and back again for more than nine hours, only for the flight to stay grounded.
One passenger, Sabine Aiach, told local newspaper La Dépêche that the delays had begun early in the day, with passengers initially told they would need to wait 45 more minutes.
She said: “I wasn’t too worried. We finally got on the plane. We settle down. We wait for an hour and then we are informed that the plane has a technical problem with a flight computer. Here we go again for another hour of waiting, without being given any food or water. Finally, we are informed that the fault cannot be repaired as it is.”
The passengers were then returned to the gate. Another plane was found, but it was too small for the number of passengers. Some were offered a later flight for €200.
Some, including Ms Aiach, chose to board the smaller plane, thinking that it would take off soon.
However, passengers on the new plane were kept waiting for another hour, before being told that the crew had “flown too many hours during the day” and that “according to regulations”, the plane could not fly as a result.
Nine hours after the initial flight was scheduled to leave, the planes had still not left the tarmac.
Ms Aiach eventually booked another flight, with Air France, and made it to Paris, but had to pay for it herself.
An EasyJet spokesperson told The Connexion: “easyJet can confirm that the flight EJU4026 Toulouse-Paris Orly on March 21 was delayed overnight as a result of a technical issue with the aircraft prior [to] departure.
"The aircraft was declared unserviceable and had to be replaced. Passengers disembarked as per normal and have been provided with refreshment vouchers.
"A replacement aircraft was sent, however due to the delay the crew reached their maximum legal working hours meaning they could not operate the flight.
"Hotel accommodation was provided when necessary and the flight departed on March 22 in the morning, at 09h21.
"In order to allow passengers to reorganize their travel plans easyJet also transferred several passengers - on available seats - on the Toulouse-Paris Orly evening flight on March 21 and on the first wave flight on March 22.
"The safety and wellbeing of our passengers and crew is easyJet’s highest priority. We would like to apologize for the inconvenience experienced.
"We always aim to keep customers informed very regularly directly at the airport and through our app and direct SMS and email communications. When there is a technical issue it can be difficult to estimate the likely length of a delay depending on the nature if the issue."
What are the EU rules on delayed flights?
The EU website states that passengers in the EU have rights to assistance, refunds, and another flight if the journey is delayed, depending on the length of the delay and the distance of the flight.
Delays of more than three hours usually mean passengers can claim compensation, unless the airline can prove that the delay was due to “extraordinary circumstances”, such as political instability or extreme weather.
Technical problems are not usually considered to be “extraordinary circumstances”.
It is not clear whether the passengers on yesterday’s flight have yet been offered compensation or new flights.