Northern Ireland

Easyjet: Passengers spend night in Glasgow after 12-hour delay

Tony Morrison
Image caption Tony Morrison said it was the worst flying experience he had ever encountered

Passengers on a flight from London to Belfast faced a 12-hour delay after their plane was diverted to Glasgow.

The flight from Gatwick Airport was due to arrive in Belfast at around 22:00 BST on Sunday night but could not land due to runway maintenance.

Travellers said they then faced a number of delays and "confusion" over accommodation and return flights.

Easyjet has apologised for the inconvenience.

The passengers, with Queens Park Rangers footballer Joey Barton among them, were said to be "very angry" over the delay.

Londonderry man Tony Morrison, who lives in Italy, said it was the worst flying experience he had encountered in 25 years of travelling.

"It was horrible," he said. "We were not told anything. We didn't even get the common courtesy of anyone saying they were sorry for the inconvenience.

"We have no idea why we went to Scotland instead of somewhere like Dublin or Belfast City where our relatives could still pick us up."

'Problem with runway'

The passengers' ordeal started when their 21:15 BST flight from London Gatwick to Belfast International was delayed.

According to Mr Morrison, the flight didn't leave until 22:40 BST and was expected to land in Northern Ireland about an hour later.

Mr Morrison said the pilot told passengers that they were unable to land due to "problems with the lights on the runway".

The plane diverted to Glasgow, where the pilot initially told passengers they would refuel and go back to Belfast as the runway had reopened.

However, at about 01:30 BST, the pilot said it was no longer to safe to fly and passengers would have to spend the night in Scotland.

Mr Morrison said relatives due to pick passengers up had to be contacted numerous times to update them on whether they were returning to Belfast.

"I lost track of the number of times I phoned my family and told them to turn around and go home."

Missed funeral

Mr Morrison said his uncle had been waiting at Belfast International for four hours and the Derry man was only able to tell him the flight was cancelled at 02:30 BST.

He added that passengers then spent an hour in the airport before vouchers were distributed and accommodation found.

However, some passengers were taken to the wrong hotel.

Mr Morrison said he was travelling to Belfast to visit his brother in the Royal Victoria Hospital but that some other passengers were much worse off by the delay, with one older couple being forced to miss a funeral.

He said: "They told Easyjet to just put them on a flight back to London. The man missed his brother's funeral. It's pretty sad."

He added: "Joey Barton was on the flight and he didn't seem too disturbed by it, he was on the couch watching TV in the early hours of the morning.

"He took a few pictures with some people, so there was a brighter side to it."

Mr Morrison said it was the first time he had flown from Italy to Belfast, via London, as he usually flew into Dublin.

"I'll be flying into Dublin in future," he said.

Belfast International Airport said: "Part of the runway was closed for planned maintenance last night.

"The pilot could have landed on the shortened section, however, the foggy conditions prevented this."

In a statement, Easyjet said: "The safety and wellbeing of passengers is always Easyjet priority and we worked hard to secure hotel rooms, provide refreshment vouchers and transferred all passenger onto alternative flights free of charge.

"We would like to apologise to all passengers for any inconvenience caused by the delay."

The Consumer Council issued a statement that said although the Easyjet flight was "not significantly delayed in departure" the rerouting to Glasgow meant passengers were entitled to meals, free phone calls and overnight accommodation.