Passengers have hit out at Ryanair after claiming they only received notification that their return flight to Cork from Lanzarote had been cancelled hours before take-off.
The 7.25am service from the Canary Island back to Cork was cancelled after a member of the aircrew fell ill. Some passengers said they were only informed at 3am while others said they were waiting in the departures queue at the airport before they received the notification via text and email.
It meant passengers, including groups with young children, face extra days on the island for which they had not budgeted.
One family said they are now due to return via Dublin on Thursday, meaning a race against time for one teenager to be back in time for a fitting for her debs dress.
The girl’s mother, Annemarie, from Cork City, told Red FM’s Neil Prendeville Show their travelling party of 16 had arrived at the airport at 4.50am and were waiting in the queue for an hour before they heard the flight might have been cancelled.
“We didn’t get the email until 6am,” she said, adding that “there was no satisfaction whatsoever” from airport staff.
She later told the Irish Examiner that after a holiday she and her family — including children ranging in age from five to 17 — had spent all year looking forward to, “we can’t afford a bottle of water”.
She added: “All the kids are like zombies walking around.”
Another passenger affected by the cancellation was Patrick Kelly, who works in digital marketing in Kerry.
He said he received the cancellation notice at 3am but travelled to the airport as planned so as to arrange another flight back as quickly as possible.
“There was no information so we queued at the check-in desk,” he said.
“They said to go over to the customer service desk, saying ‘we can’t do anything for you’. We joined another queue there, we were queueing for at least an hour and a half.”
Patrick did book another return flight for tomorrow but said the scene at the airport was difficult, with families of young children trying to sort out alternative accommodation and people “getting very upset and irate”.
He also said there was initial confusion as to the reason for the cancellation.
Ryanair said in a statement:
“This flight from Lanzarote to Cork was regrettably cancelled due to crew illness. All affected customers were contacted by email and SMS text message and advised of their options of a full refund, free transfer on to the next available flight or alternative routing and provided with hotel accommodation.
"Ryanair sincerely apologised to customers for this cancellation.”
It is understood some customers opted for a refund while others moved to an alternative Ryanair flight.