‘EasyJet cancelled our Bristol Airport flight - so we drove nine hours to Paris to save my birthday holiday’

One Bristol couple found themselves driving to Paris to save their holiday, after their flight was cancelled while they were sat in the departures lounge

With flight cancellations left, right and centre at the moment, one Bristol couple left reeling from a cancellation while sitting in the departures lounge decided to drive to Paris to save their holiday.

With their already postponed holiday left in tatters, Tina Butler and her husband from Headley Park, took matters into their own hands to avoid losing hundreds of pounds from pre-booked accommodation and tickets.

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Having already had their holiday to Paris - bought as a birthday present from their son - postponed due to the pandemic, the couple was excited to be heading off to the French capital last week.

Despite the fact that easyJet knew of strikes at Charles de Gaulle airport, there was no mention of delays or potential cancellations when Mrs Butler checked prior to arriving at Bristol Airport on June 9.

Mr and Mrs Butler were sat in departures when they were sent a text to say their flight was cancelled

In fact, while sitting comfortably in the departures lounge, the only worries Ms Butler had were the usual holiday nerves about whether her luggage might be lost.

“We went through departures absolutely fine and were sat having something to eat when we all of a sudden er got an email alert to say that the flight was cancelled,” says Ms Butler.

“A few people were told to go down to Gate 2 so we went down there but no one came out from the airport or easyJet to talk to us.”

Ms Butler said she had one option on the email to book another flight, but it was for the Saturday and they were returning home early Monday so would miss many of their Paris bookings.

The couple were sitting in departures when they received this message

“We were just led out through passport control by a policeman, in the end, to go out and get our luggage,” she says. “Apart from the email to get a refund from a form, we still haven’t heard anything from easyJet.”

What made the couple most irritated by the situation? “It’s the lack of communication,” said Mrs Butler. “And the annoyance of not having a single person come and deal with it or talk to you. Everyone was just fending for themselves and the email very basically said the flight was cancelled.

“We were stranded in the departure lounge trying to work out how to get out and what to do without anyone coming to talk to us - 300 people were sent the same email! There were children going to Disneyland Paris that had already had flights cancelled and moved.”

Ms Butler was grateful that her husband was happy to drive and they didn’t lost their Moulin Rouge tickets

It’s also the feeling that people could be told something or warned earlier. “We were at the airport at 11 am and our flight was at 1.20 pm so I’m sure they would hear before then,” said Ms Butler. “To get through, think you’re going and then just get an email alert, it’s so frustrating.”

Mrs Butler felt very grateful and fortunate that they were in a situation that meant they could make the spontaneous decision to get in the car, book the crossing and head to Paris that way. This meant they wouldn’t lose the money for bookings in France.

“If we hadn’t gone we would have lost everything, we’d have lost over £1000 in bookings,” she said. “We picked the car up from the garage as we had originally booked it in for some maintenance work, packed the car and set off for Folkestone.”

It wasn’t quite the relaxing start to a holiday you might wish for.

“Thank God for smartphones, as I booked the shuttle and a car park as our hotel didn’t have parking all on the way,” she said. “It was over £400 just for the shuttle, so we got £300 back for the flights and then had the shuttle and two tanks of petrol there and back and the cost of parking.”

They also didn’t qualify for compensation, either, as the cancellation was due to strikes at Charles de Gaulle airport that were discussed the day before.

“Obviously, it would have been nice to have been told the flights were cancelled before we got to the airport and then we could have gone straight there instead of arriving in Paris at midnight,” she said.

This also would have helped alleviate the extra cost spent unnecessarily. “We paid for the drop-off fee, then paid for someone to come and pick us up again and we’d eaten food in the airport so we were completely out of pocket,” she said.

Fortunately, the couple had an amazing time in Paris

Fortunately, the couple had an amazing time in Paris after their 9-hour car journey and managed to make it to their Moulin Rouge bookings and Eiffel Tower tour.

They did, however, have to spend a lot of time stressing and researching various elements and found that they needed to leave early on Monday morning to avoid the low emission zone that runs from 8am-8pm.

Has it put them off booking holidays at the moment? “Yes, especially as we’ve had another flight for a Christening in July changed which means we miss it so we’ve had to cancel it,” she said.

“We’ve also had a flight changed already for September, so I am certainly not planning on booking any more flights”.

EasyJet was contacted for comment last week, but has not responded.