My partner and I had booked an EasyJet flight from Pisa to Gatwick to visit my terminally ill mother. EasyJet canceled it 15 days before the flight and told us we could rebook at no extra charge. When we tried, the website showed our flight as “sold out” instead of canceled and there were no alternatives available for that week so we requested a refund. Four days later, we discovered that the airline had reinstated a flight on our travel date, but at more than double the price we had paid.
DF, Pisa, Italy
You had paid €214 for the two, while a single seat on the new flight was €225. You’d understandably suspect that easyJet was trying to ditch cheaper bookings and force passengers to pay more. The airline insists it didn’t, but there are plenty of unanswered questions here. EasyJet’s notification to passengers stated that the cancellation was out of its control and an extraordinary circumstance (very rare things like volcanic eruptions or terrorist attacks that absolve airlines from paying passengers compensation for cancellations). I asked easyJet what extraordinary problem they had anticipated 15 days in advance. It said: “We preemptively cancel a small proportion of our flights to provide customers with advance notice so they can rebook and minimize the impact on their plans.” In other words, it was a voluntary decision to do you a favor. He eventually admitted that he had incorrectly stated the extraordinary circumstances. In fact, he told me, it was due to the high levels of sickness in the crew.
As to why the alternate flights suddenly appeared on the schedule four days after he had accepted a refund, he stated that they were there the whole time but had sold out, so they didn’t appear. Subsequent passenger cancellations allowed them to reappear. That’s weird because his original canceled flight was tagged as sold out and was still visible when he tried to rebook. EasyJet says this was to prevent new passengers from booking a flight that was in the process of being cancelled.
All of this is very worrying. An extraordinary circumstance that was not extraordinary. A canceled flight that was listed as sold out. Sold out flights that ultimately didn’t sell out. And a hefty bill for you. It was only because of my intervention that easyJet said that as a “goodwill gesture” it would book him a flight of his choice at no additional cost. Airline passengers with unresolved disputes can take their case to a dispute resolution body if the airline is a member or to the Civil Aviation Authority if it is not.
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