Edinburgh school teacher's Tenerife flight nightmare with Ryanair
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An Edinburgh primary school teacher has told of her nightmare ordeal returning from Tenerife with Ryanair, when she had to pay 109 Euros for a taxi from a hotel on the north of the holiday island after coaches failed to show to take passengers back to the airport after their flight was delayed.
Gill Matthews, who teaches at Craigroyston and St Andrew’s Fox Covert primary schools, was on the Tenerife to Edinburgh flight delayed for 15 hours in February, as previously reported. She was one of the 200 passengers sitting on the plane on the runway at Tenerife South Airport for around two hours before being told to get off due to a fault on the aircraft on Friday, February 17. Passengers were then ferried to hotels, with some staying in the airport to await the rescheduled flight on Saturday morning at 8.45am, which never left until after noon local time.
Gill, who had travelled to the island alone to meet a friend there, was taken with a coachload of fellow passengers to a hotel more than an hour away on the north of the island, arriving there at about midnight. She was then told to be in reception for 5am to be picked up to return to the airport for 6.45am – but awoke to find her fellow passengers in the hotel reception frantically trying to book taxis after Ryanair failed to provide a coach.
The 54-year-old said: “At the airport we were told we would be taken to hotels in Santa Cruz but it was further. We were told it would be 40 minutes but it was over an hour away. It was freezing too, as it was on the north of the island, and nothing was open obviously, so we couldn’t get anything to eat or drink. Although everyone was given a bottle of water on the bus.
"By the time we all got checked in and I got to my room it was 1am. There was not really much time for sleep, just three or four hours really. I didn’t sleep at all. I was worried that I might miss my alarm. When I came down the stairs in the morning I found out we had to get taxis. People had received messages to tell us this, mine never came through until I was back in Edinburgh!
"At the airport we were given vouchers worth four Euros but there was only one little coffee shop in the terminal as we had gone through security and were left waiting for hours, as the flight was meant to take off at 8.45am but never left until after noon.”
Gill was unhappy with the lack of information, both on the Friday evening when the flight had to be cancelled and on the Saturday morning when passengers waited more than five hours for the rearranged flight. She said: "Engineers were looking at the wings when we got on the plane on Friday. We then sat on the plane for two hours, we weren’t told much about what was going on.
“Ryanair didn’t actually tell us anything, that was the most frustrating thing. There was no communication on the Saturday morning. We were all there waiting for more than five hours, so they could have come and told us something. I thought somebody would kick-off because it was quite stressful, all that hanging about. But people were really good. I think that lack of communication caused the most stress.”
Gill has filled in a claim for compensation, but spoke of the knock-on effect the return flight had on her. She said: "I started my compensation claim last Saturday, apparently it will take up to four months. You are supposed to get £400 because of the distance and because the flight was cancelled. I have also claimed for the 109 Euros taxi and a meal.
"I was supposed to be at the theatre on the Saturday afternoon to see my goddaughter performing at the Churchill Theatre. It was a real shame I missed it as I wasn’t home yet. It was only a five day trip. I felt really rested. But I was knackered when I got back after all the problems coming home.”
A spokesperson for Ryanair said: “This Tenerife to Edinburgh flight was delayed overnight due to a minor technical issue with the aircraft. Affected passengers were notified and subsequently updated via email, SMS and their Ryanair app.
"Passengers remained onboard the aircraft for less than one hour, during which time they were provided with water, before being disembarked and offered overnight accommodation. However, as there was limited hotel availability in Tenerife, some passengers remained at the airport and any passengers who arranged their own accommodation were advised that they can claim reimbursement on Ryanair.com. We sincerely apologise to affected passengers for any inconvenience caused as a result of this delay.”