EasyJet despicable over Egypt rescue flights, Bristol couple says

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Hotel Mercure, Hurghada, EgyptImage source, Anne-Marie Gilke
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The couple had booked flights with EasyJet to Hurghada in Egypt and were due to fly home on Saturday

Tourists were plunged into chaos when EasyJet cancelled and resold seats as "rescue" flights after Egypt went into coronavirus lockdown, a couple says.

Anne-Marie and Matthew Gikes described the firm's behaviour as "absolutely despicable".

The pair had flown from Bristol to Hurghada on 11 March, before Foreign Office travel advice was issued.

Easyjet says it wants to contact the couple and if travel agents are used, customers are hard to reach.

"I will never fly with them again as long as I live.

"They could have made a horrible situation easier," Mrs Gilke said.

'Blind panic'

A spokeswoman for the company said: "We would like to reassure customers that where we have been required to cancel flights, we are committed to getting customers home as quickly as possible and we have been operating rescue flights.

"We have been working hard to provide a programme of repatriation flights which have been published on our latest travel information pages as soon as they are confirmed."

The company said it had carried out over 500 rescue flights since 12 March but no flights to and from Egypt were now possible.

Because no travel advice was issued before they set off on their 10-day trip, Mr and Mrs Gilke feared their travel insurance would be invalid if they cancelled the holiday.

"On the Monday (16 March) we were told that Egypt would be closing its airspace, closing its borders and all the hotels would be closed," Mrs Gikes said.

"There was blind panic, with everyone trying to get on a flight.

"Just after we found that out, we found that our flight home on the Saturday had been cancelled.

"They didn't offer us any other flight so people were desperately trying to find a way home, before we were thrown out of the hotel."

Image source, Anne-Marie Gilke
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The couple tried several times to rebook a flight but kept failing

Like other holidaymakers, she spent all week trying to book a new flight.

In the end, despite losing their oriseats for the Saturday flight she still tried to board it.

"We waited all day, we queued up and they were only allowing people with the new boarding reference number," Mrs Gilke said.

"Essentially, they had cancelled our flights and then sold our seats to someone else.

"There were about 150 people just left in the airport absolutely hysterical by this point because we'd heard this was the last flight from EasyJet."

Image source, Anne-Marie Gilke
Image caption,
Anne-Marie Gilke said EasyJet made the situation even more stressful in an already difficult situation

The couple managed to book another flight the following day, for £200 each, and arrived home on Sunday evening.

Mrs Gilke believes about 50 people are still stranded after being unable to book flights home.