Edinburgh flights: Couple stranded after Marrakesh holiday to celebrate wedding anniversary
and live on Freeview channel 276
A West Lothian couple were left fearing the worst after a cancelled flight left them stranded without vital medication.
Julie and Kenny Hepburn, from Livingston, had been celebrating their wedding anniversary in Marrakesh and were due to leave Morocco on Sunday, September 17. But their flight was cancelled due to ‘technical issues’ – sparking concerns that Kenny would not return in time to receive vital medication which he takes to prevent strokes.
On hearing that their outbound flight had been diverted to Portugal for repairs, Julie and Kenny, who had been enjoying their first holiday in five years, said they were left unimpressed by the lack of communication from airline Ryanair.
Speaking to the Evening News, Julie said: “Not a single member of Ryanair staff was to be seen on the ground and eventually due to some pester power from another passenger the airport staff arranged coaches to a hotel for the night which turned into a farce when they started asking people if they would share rooms with random strangers.
“Under normal circumstances we could cope however my husband takes blood thinners a lot of medication for his previous transient ischaemic attacks (TIA), which are mini strokes, and blood pressure and we feared his health would be put risk. So if this had gone on longer there would have been an increased risk of another TIA or stroke.”
Ryanair dispute claims that there was no staff presence at Marrakesh Airport and told the Evening News staff were present on the ground.
Julie added she was also ‘desperate’ to return home after hearing her mum had been admitted to hospital with double pneumonia and heart problems during their trip to Morocco.
And to make matters worse, temporary accommodation which was organised for those on the flight saw strangers asked to share bedrooms. Julie said passengers were ‘exhausted and felt that this has been such a disappointing end to a lovely holiday’.
She added: “The hotel staff were very stressed trying to book everyone in, they were asking people to share in groups of three or four with strangers which was just unacceptable and a few conversations became a little heated as you can imagine.”
Following the devastating 6.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Morocco on September 8, the Livingston couple were unsure if they would go ahead with their holiday. Julie said: “We asked about postponing or cancelling our holiday as we felt guilty about arriving in a country that was going through a natural disaster. But as we would have lost our entire amount of money and the UK government website still advised it was safe to travel we had no choice but to come.”
Arriving at Edinburgh Airport shortly before 11pm on Monday, September 18, Julie said she was ‘very relieved to be home’ and she is now looking to seek compensation from Ryanair. She said: “I hope that in time the memory of the last 24 hours with no updates going from a five star to a no star hotel and all the security checks will disappear to be replaced by the lovely memories of our holiday.”
But Julie added: “We can safely say we will never fly with Ryanair ever again no matter where the destination is.”
A Ryanair spokesperson said: “This flight from Marrakesh to Edinburgh (September 17) was regrettably delayed overnight after the inbound flight was forced to divert to Faro due to a minor technical issue. Passengers were notified, advised of their options, and provided with overnight accommodation and transfers to/from Marrakesh Airport.
“To minimise disruption to passengers, we quickly arranged for mechanics to service the aircraft. The aircraft was cleared to return to service the following day (September 18) and departed Faro safely for Marrakesh to bring these passengers to Edinburgh.”
They added: “Ryanair sincerely apologises for any inconvenience caused as a result of this overnight delay, which was entirely beyond our control.”