A family whose flight to Portugal was canceled at the last minute over the weekend said they will not be flying again this year.
ayne and Aoife Comerford traveled from their home in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, to Dublin Airport yesterday for a 7pm flight to Faro, Portugal.
Wayne and Aoife and their three children Ailbhe (11), Killian (9) and Freya (5) arrived at Terminal 2 at 3pm and queued for Aer Lingus baggage drop.
Aoife said she was “nervous” traveling through the airport considering how busy it’s been lately, but the family was “so excited” for their first vacation in three years.
“We got to the airport at 3pm for our 7pm flight and when we got to baggage drop they said we were late for the flight.
“When we called one of the people from Aer Lingus they said our flight was probably on a list of canceled flights and that if we got in a line of people waiting to see if theirs they would come Flights have been canceled Tell us,” she said.
An hour later, the Comerfords received a text message that their flight had been cancelled.
“There was an insane panic at the time to see where you would sort your flight,” Aoife said.
“There was a huge ticketing queue, that’s the queue you should line up to change your booking, that stretched the entire length of Terminal 2. At that point, due to very upset children, we decided not to join and we decided to come home and claim a refund for our flight ourselves.”
Wayne and Aoife paid €6,000 for their 10-day package holiday and requested a refund this morning and began looking for alternative holiday options.
The couple were due to holiday near Albufeira, which Wayne described as his “favourite place”, but Portugal is no longer “hot” for this year.
Instead, and pending a refund from their travel insurance, the couple said they hope to take a trip to France, but they will only take a ferry.
“The kids went crazy when we said there were no vacations, so we thought we had to do something,” Wayne said.
“Flights are not an option. Not after this experience. We’ve heard it’s going to be a crazy weekend, even today. So we said if we book another flight, the confidence isn’t there.”
“We’ve waited three years. I mean days were spent researching it. The children’s anticipation grew. Getting summer clothes and the excitement for everyone and being at the airport and snatching it away was the hardest part,” Aoife said.
“I was afraid it would happen again. That we would be traveling to Dublin Airport only to have the flight cancelled. I just couldn’t put the kids through that stress of getting to the airport and not coming on the plane again.”
Aoife added: “There’s not as much fun at the airport as there used to be. It used to be part of vacation fun that the excitement started at the airport.
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“The stress level is increasing. I was very concerned about the whole experience, especially with three young children, that if we had to queue for two hours to get through security, it was going to be very stressful – which is another reason we’re not going through it again.”
The 7pm flight to Faro that the Comerfords were due to take was one of several Aer Lingus flights canceled yesterday. The airline cited a Covid increase in employees and strikes in air traffic control in France, Italy and Spain as the reason why “buffers” failed.
A flight to Split in Croatia and arrivals from London Heathrow and Amsterdam were also canceled yesterday.
Independent.ie contacted Aer Lingus and received a statement detailing how Covid cases had impacted staffing levels along with the air traffic control (ATC) strikes which Ryanair had previously said would affect flights .
“Aer Lingus anticipated the return of travel demand once Covid restrictions were lifted and built appropriate buffers into our plans to cope with a reasonable level of additional disruption.
“Unfortunately this weekend, system pressures from ATC strikes and ongoing problems at airports and third party suppliers have necessitated the cancellation of some flights.
“This pressure on the system has been compounded in recent days by a spike in Covid cases among our own teams. Where cancellations have occurred, Aer Lingus has attempted to accommodate the disrupted passengers on the next available alternative service.
“Aer Lingus would like to apologize to the customers affected and has provided details of customer rights and airlines’ obligations under Regulation (EC) 261/2004 which can be found here: www.aerlingus.com/support/legal/Regulation.”
Meanwhile, several more flights to and from Dublin Airport were canceled today, including two Aer Lingus flights to Brussels and Amsterdam.