A family who planned to go on holiday to the USA quickly found their trip-of-a-lifetime became a "nightmare" when one of their flights didn’t exist. Neil and Michele Travis spent £6,000 on business class flights with Aer Lingus for themselves and their daughter, Georgia, 20.
The expensive flights were a "special" treat – and they planned to fly from Manchester to New York and then get a connecting flight to Fort Lauderdale in Florida, reports StokeonTrentLive. The family was planning to visit friends they hadn’t seen in five years.
Devastatingly, when they arrived at JFK International Airport on June 16 they were shocked to find that their connecting flight with the airline's partner, Jet Blue, did not exist. While there was an appropriate flight that same evening it was fully booked.
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Are Lingus was unable to get the trio onto another flight down to Florida for two days. Accountant Michele managed to find them an American Airlines flight from Newark the following day and claims they were given assurances they would be reimbursed for the cost. But, the family's "catastrophic experience" didn’t end there.
The family’s new flight from Newark was then affected by a storm. The pilot waited to land hoping the bad weather would fade but eventually had to land at Palm beach when the plane "ran out of fuel" – adding an hour to their journey.
They eventually made it to their friends’ home but worried that their return would be equally plagued by issues. Both Neil and Michele sought assurances from the airline and he even went to the airport the day before they were leaving to make sure they were on the system.
Neil felt at ease as their names and flights were down to him. However, when they arrived the next day his ticket was "invalid" and his wife and daughter were not on the system.
Eventually, JetBlue put Neil and Michele on a plane, but there was no space for 20-year-old Georgia. Another flight was leaving in 40 minutes so the family decided to buy her a ticket on their credit card.
The family have blasted Aer Lingus for the "stress" and "anguish" they were put through and are demanding they are reimbursed for the original flights and the incurred costs amounting to around £4,000 for extra flights, taxis and food.
"It was nightmare from start to finish," said Michele. "It was like something off Fawlty Towers. We've had absolutely nothing back so far – not even a reply from them."
"My daughter was in tears when we were trying to get home. I said to them, 'Do you expect us to leave her here with no way to get home?' You couldn't write it. We're lucky we had a credit card we could use – my daughter said to me 'What would I have done?' The stress they've caused, it's disgraceful."
They have referred their complaint to the Civil Aviation Authority having not heard back from the airline. Neil said: "This whole catastrophe was an appalling start to our holiday and caused significant anguish. The stress and impact to my wife and daughter’s mental health ruined what should have been a fantastic experience of flying business class."
He added: "We took the train to the JetBlue terminal and could not see our flight on the departing flight list. We joined a queue to speak with a JetBlue agent and after many attempts to find out what had gone wrong we were informed that the flight number we were given on the confirmation did not exist. The ticket had not been confirmed by Aer Lingus."
A spokeswoman for Aer Lingus confirmed that they "escalated" the issue to its customer relations team who "have since been in touch with the customer and resolved the issue".
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