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700 Aer Lingus customers still waiting on compensation for flight cancellations last month

Aer Lingus representatives are appearing before politicians to answer questions about the outage.

Scenes from Dublin Airport on 10 September when Aer Lingus experienced an outage.
Scenes from Dublin Airport on 10 September when Aer Lingus experienced an outage.
Image: Sam Boal

AER LINGUS WILL has told the Oireachtas Transport Committee that it is processing refunds and compensation for passengers affected by mass flight cancellations last month. 

The committee heard today that around 30,000 people were impacted by the systems outage. 

About 20,000 were on delayed original flights and 4,000 were accommodated to another flight. About 6,000 did not travel and cancelled their trips.

The airline said it received around 6,500 applications for compensation from customers impacted, with 91% of these applications already processed.

About 700 people are left to get reimbursement. 

The airline says that the system outage that led to mass flight cancellations was caused by a fibre optic cable being damaged by construction in the UK.

Over 50 flights were cancelled by the airline on 10 September due to “major” errors with the company’s online system, leaving Aer Lingus unable to check-in, board or access mandatory flight information for nearly 10 hours.

Aer Lingus representatives appeared before politicians today to answer questions about what happened.

In its opening statement, the airline says it wants to note that major IT issues causing significant disruption have not been typical in Aer Lingus.

“In fact we’ve had very few customer facing IT outages over the last 5 years, and nothing on the scale or with the impact that was experienced on Saturday 10th September 2022.

“We did however have a significant outage on that date. For almost 10 hours we had
no access to our core operational and customer systems. We could not check-in or
board customers, access mandatory flight information, access data on customer
bookings or access customer contact information.

“This meant we had very limited ability to communicate with our customers and provide the service and information we know they needed,” the airline states. 

Aer Lingus said a leading cloud services provider which is tasked to host the network
and infrastructure behind the airline’s core operational and customer system had a major failure in their network, adding that unrelated construction works damaged one of the fibre optic cables. 

Questions over back-up system

The airline said it has asked the supplier what happened to the back-up which
should have kicked-in.

Measures have now been taken to prevent an outage of this type
happening again, said Aer Lingus, stating that a third tertiary system is now be assessed. 

“We are very conscious of the impact that this disruption had on our customers. Our people at Aer Lingus made huge efforts on the day to help customers in what were very difficult circumstances.”

The airline once again reiterated its apology to customers for the disruption. 

Since the event, the number of employees at the call centre agents has increased, said the airline, acknowledging that call wait times “were inevitably longer in the immediate aftermath of the outage”.

Hotel accommodation was offered to customers at most airports and those who secured their own accommodation are being reimbursed accordingly, the committee was told.

“We added extra resources to rebook customers and reunite them with their bags. We have been processing applications for refunds, expenses, and compensation,” said Aer Lingus.

Independent TD Michael Lowry said he was “gobsmacked” when he saw the scenes at Dublin Airport on the day. He said constituents were calling him to try and find out what was happening. 

“The communications were at zero,” he said, stating that passengers only found out about the cancellations through the national media. 

He described it as a “nothing short of a PR disaster”, stating that “it is costly in terms of the reputational damage both at home and abroad”. 

Lowry said it was a “shambles”, saying that Aer Lingus’ response to rebooking was “sluggish to say the least”. 

Lynne Embleton, the CEO of Aer Lingus said on the day, the airline did not know when systems would be back online, stating that it was in constant communication with its provider. 

Labour’s Duncan Smith asked Embleton about cyber security and backup systems that are in place, stating that it appeared to be series of unfortunate events, but he hoped that it would never happen again. 

Aer Lingus also confirmed at today’s meeting that it has no intention of reinstating the cabin crew base in Shannon Airport.

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