A consumer rights campaigner has launched a petition to ensure flight-disrupted passengers aren’t left abandoned.
Barry Murphy, best known for his efforts to get a better deal for Manx Gas customers, has started a change.org petition entitled ‘Fairness for Isle of Man Air Passengers’ which has collected more than 100 signatures since it was launched late last week.
He said: ‘Most of us need to fly at sometime. I think it is important to think that someone has our back when things go wrong. EasyJet don’t – that’s for sure.’
Mr Murphy was spurred to act after his evening flight from Gatwick to Ronalsdway on May 8 was forced to turned back due to fog.
He said: ‘Our flight appeared quite full. The plane took off, flew to the island, the pilot mentioned fog and stated that the airport was essentially closed for air traffic.
‘Forty-five minutes later and we were back on the ground in Gatwick. EasyJet staff were nowhere to be seen. One word described the situation – abandoned. My wife and I were there with two young exhausted children.’
He said the 100 or so passengers were handed a leaflet and told to ‘sort it out on the app’.
Mr Murphy said getting another flight home the next day was impossible and getting a hotel last minute was extremely difficult.
‘It was in no way was assisted by EasyJet for most if any passengers. I managed to get a hotel through the app but only by accepting a flight to the island on Saturday May 13,’ he said. ‘We were simply abandoned in Gatwick. There was no assistance there from anyone.’
His petition calls for the Manx government to urgently speak with EasyJet management to ensure Isle of Man residents are treated in a ‘decent and humane manner’ once cancellations and delays occur.
He said: ‘Many passengers do not have access to an app at all, let alone in the UK. Assistance should be given by airline ground staff to assist passengers to find a hotel for the night immediately. All I can say is that I hope everyone on that flight found somewhere comfortable to sleep. It was a horrible experience.’
His petition also calls for the state-owned Steam Packet to offer a special concessionary fare for passengers who can prove they are affected by flight cancellations.
He explained: ‘For many passengers the only option is to look at returning by Steam Packet. Last minute tickets can be very expensive, plus there is the added cost of last minute travel to Liverpool or Heysham by train, coach, car hire etc. In my case I think that the last minute plans we put in place have cost me in excess of £400, so I guess most passengers affected on this flight will also be currently out of pocket to a figure close to that amount.’
Mr Murphy added: ‘Personally I had no idea how bad the treatment of passengers could be, but politically ignoring the situation is something that cannot happen any longer.’