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Passengers stuck for 11 hours in Gatwick limbo

News | Published:

AURIGNY passengers were left for 11 hours in departures at Gatwick on Saturday without any information as to why.

(Picture by Adrian Miller, 21762489)

IT consultant, Graham Smith, 60, was due to fly to the island at 8.35am in time to spend Father’s Day on the island with his parents, before returning to London for work.

After a series of unexplained delays, Mr Smith had to cancel his trip.

Aurigny has since apologised for its ‘poor’ communication.

The problem was with the airline’s Embraer 195.

‘Having been ushered into Gate 18 at around 8am, we were eventually told that the incoming flight was late “due to fog in Guernsey”,’ said Mr Smith.

‘This was most likely true as there has been no investment on the island in available technology to deal with this regular natural phenomenon, but that’s another story altogether.

‘We were then advised that the plane had gone “technical” and were asked to retrieve our boarding passes, in my case a piece of paper from an online booking made in February, torn in half so they could keep the bottom half, and return to the main Gatwick departure area and await further information.

‘Throughout the day there was no pro-active communication with the passengers whatsoever. There was no information on the airport screens until 7.30 that evening. We were top of the list all day,’ he added.

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Mr Smith spent the day in the departures lounge before eventually passengers were offered an overnight stay in the capital and a flight to Guernsey the following morning.

‘The only way to try and get information throughout the day was to wait by the airport information desk and ask for updates.

‘The desk staff tried their best, the “manager” refused to attend, which says quite a lot about the organisation and the strength of their management.

‘Throughout the day, at what we the customers considered to be reasonable intervals, if and only if, we took turns to go and ask, we were told that an engineer was on his way, then an engineer was looking at it. Then they were going to change a brake unit.

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‘Hours later, having changed and tested the brake unit, only then did they realise that a tyre had been damaged on landing some six hours earlier. Now they had to find a tyre.’

A spare tyre was located and transported to Gatwick. It was fitted and they were waiting for a gate.

‘Imagine the relief when the information board was updated at around 7.30pm: “08.35am Guernsey. GR601. Go to Gate 11.”

‘Imagine the disappointment when, once corralled into Gate 11 we could see there was no plane. We were then told that the flight had been cancelled.

‘I was only travelling for the weekend and had no confidence that I would be able to get to Guernsey and back to work for Monday.

‘Technical problems occur but there are ways of dealing with them and respect for your customers should be at least somewhere on the list,’ he said.

‘We would like to sincerely apologise for the disruption our customers experienced on Saturday,’ said an Aurigny spokesman.

‘We are reviewing the sequence of events and will look at steps we can take to ensure we handle the situation better in future.

‘We take on board the feedback from our customers. On this occasion communication was poor, and we must improve,’ he said.

Alex Warlow

By Alex Warlow
News reporter

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