An easyJet passenger who was among a planeload of people delayed for a full day by an Icelandic snowstorm has described the experience as a “fiasco”.
Robert Stephens, 79, was one of the passengers booked on easyJet flight 8846 from Keflavik International Airport, near Reykjavik, to London Gatwick. It was due to depart at 7.30pm on Friday evening, 2 February.
The incoming plane flew a holding pattern over the Reykjanes peninsula – location of Iceland’s latest major volcanic action – before landing safely around 40 minutes behind schedule.
But foul weather and delays with de-icing led to the homebound flight eventually being delayed overnight.
He said: “Due to serious wind and snow conditions the incoming flight was prevented from offloading the passengers for a couple of hours.”
The UK-bound passengers were ready to go, but could not board the plane until the arriving travellers had disembarked.
“The outgoing passengers were shunted from gate to gate with a minimum of information,” Mr Stephens said.
“Eventually we were put on buses to the aircraft. We boarded in appalling conditions of wind and snow at around midnight. The plane was still unable to depart due initially to the weather forecast.
“When the storm had passed the plane had received a coating of snow and the pilot had to call for de-icing. Unfortunately the weather conditions exceeded those in which the de-icing crew could operate so further delay ensued.”
When the weather abated sufficiently for the pre-flight procedure to clear snow and ice from the wings and other surfaces, the first de-icing vehicle to attend the aircraft broke down.
Finally the plane was de-iced. But as the pilots prepared to depart, easyJet’s operations HQ cancelled the flight because the crew would be “out of hours” due to the long delays.
“The delay was not of easyJet’s making,” Mr Stephens said.
“The pilot was exemplary in keeping the passengers informed – including the risk of reaching the limit of working hours.
“After it was cancelled, we were taken off the aircraft at 2.30am. At this point, the incompetence started.”
Mr Stephens said he and the other passengers spent 12 hours between checking in at Keflavik international airport on Friday night and being taken to a hotel at 6am on…