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Terminal 2 in Dublin Airport on saturday after the Aer Lingus IT failure. Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie
Flight Cancellations

'The whole thing was a mess': Stranded abroad and six hours on hold, passengers fume at Aer Lingus chaos

The airline cancelled over 50 flights to and from Dublin Airport on Saturday.

MANY PASSENGERS AFFECTED by the mass cancellations of Aer Lingus flights over the weekend have still not been able to fly home, with others complaining about massive delays on the airline’s overloaded helpline. 

The airline cancelled over 50 flights to and from Dublin Airport on Saturday following a “major” connection issue with the company’s online system. 

The cancellations mainly affected European destinations but the airline has said some transatlantic passengers were unable to board due to security restrictions as a result of the network outage

Affected customers had been advised that they can apply for a refund or book a new flight. but many who required the latter option have been forced to wait days for another flight. 

One passenger, Daryl Bolger, told The Journal that he and three others travelled to Dublin Airport for a morning flight to Faro in Portugal. After about three hours, he says that those with boarding passes were told to come to the desk and were allowed to pass through security. 

He and his wife didn’t have boarding passes so they couldn’t go through but the two others from his party with passes proceeded to the gate. 

Aer Lingus announced on Saturday that all flights after 2pm were being cancelled but Bolger says they were informed that his 11.45am Faro flight was also being cancelled. 

The two members who were at the gate then came back out through security only to later discover that the flight had departed. 

“The whole thing was a mess, there was no communication in the airport. They needlessly told us the flight was cancelled when it wasn’t,” he says. 

Bolger says the two people who came back through security ended up getting a flight to their destination with Ryanair: 

I rang them, they hadn’t heard about the cancellation on their side, but they hadn’t been getting any announcements whatsoever after security, so they came back and we got their bags for them when we went over to Ryanair because they were doing fares for €100. They stayed in the queue for two hours at Ryanair and managed to get separate flights at 6.30am and 8.30pm the following day. 

Bolger says that he and his wife both went home from the airport and tried to phone up Aer Lingus to book a new flight. He says they each spent about two hours on the phone from 10pm to 2am but were unable to get through to anyone. 

The following morning, he says he was able to speak to someone on the line and “in fairness to them they were able to sort it quickly when we did get through”. 

Error

Several passengers have been reporting long delays on the Aer Lingus customer line, with one passenger whose flight from Portugal was cancelled on Saturday telling The Journal that he was six hours waiting on the line from 8am to 2pm on Sunday before hanging up. 

The passenger says he was first told to use the airline’s online booking facility when the flight was cancelled but that when he went to book an alternate flight he got an error message and was forced to use the helpline. 

Screenshot

Unable to book a replacement flight, he says he booked a new flight tomorrow morning and has applied for a refund. 

While Aer Lingus has pledged to cover the cost of an alternate flight and accommodation, some stranded passengers have expressed worry that they can’t cover their costs initially before applying for a refund.

Garvan Coleman, a 21-year-old student who was on a trip to Berlin with four friends, says their Saturday flight was cancelled and they won’t be on a replacement until tomorrow night:

We found out our flight was cancelled merely hours before we were due to depart, there were no Aer Lingus staff at the Airport and we had to wait hours for assistance. In the end, no Aer Lingus staff showed up and Swiss airline staff helped us on their behalf.

“They put us up in a hotel in Berlin for one night and we had to check out the next morning, which we were not told.

“We assumed because the flight was postponed until Tuesday that we would be covered until then. Sunday morning was very stressful trying to find last minute accommodation, especially for students like us who did not have a lot of money to pool together, we’re also very worried about what will be actually reimbursed as they are enigmatic with their words and are not clearly communicating with us about the situation.

“We have no clean clothes, and can’t afford dry cleaners or to buy new clothes, especially with the 10kg luggage weight limit.”

The airline has reiterated today that customers out of pocket as a result of the enforced change to their travel plans will be entitled to a refund. 

Speaking to reporters today following the disruption, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said it was “an unfortunate incident” that he hopes the company “will learn lessons from”. 

Ryan said the problem was not caused by the passengers and that the airline itself  acknowledges that it must remedy each situation. 

He added: “I’m concerned for passengers that were left in some cases for several hours at Dublin Airport, and I’m sure Aer Lingus are similarly concerned. We talked to the company on Saturday and got an understanding that it was a technical problem originating in the UK, it’s very important they got that resolved, which they have done.”

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