A group of friends who play for Sunday league football team Callback FC Basildon were scheduled to fly from London Southend to Faro, Portugal on 10 May 2019 at 6.30am. However, their high spirits were dampened when they arrived at the airport to face a long queue and rumours that their flight was still in Portugal. As a result of the flight cancellation, seven team members missed the charity match.
Lead passenger and chief organiser Russell Saunders describes the whole experience as a nightmare. Since returning home, easyJet have denied the team compensation and refuse to reimburse the out of pocket expenses incurred.
Bott and Co have taken on the case and believe the group are entitled to 400 Euros each in flight compensation, a total of 12,800 Euros under EU Regulation 261/2004 and that easyJet have a duty to refund all expenses in which the team have receipts for.
Coby Benson Flight Delay Compensation Solicitor at Bott and Co said: “We believe that this group of passengers have a claim against easyJet under EU Regulation 261/2004 because the airline failed to take reasonable measures to avoid the disruption by putting the group on a replacement flight at the earliest available opportunity.
People affected by a cancelled flight should ensure that they are re-routed at the earliest available opportunity under comparable transport conditions. Passengers should be entitled to be re-routed with any airline and it is the booked airline’s responsibility to assist their passengers, even if it means on rival airlines.”
Ready For Kick-off
Russell, a self-employed mechanical fitter, had been planning the trip for nine months. The team first started taking part in the tournament ten years ago and fly out to Portugal each year to play a friendly football match against a local Portuguese team, raising money for different charities each year.
Checking the easyJet flight tracker on the coach trip to the airport, all was looking fine until they got closer and received a text informing them that their flight was cancelled.
At the airport, they were greeted by a big queue of passengers and only two easyJet representatives. Word got round confirming that their flight was cancelled.
“We were given the option of rescheduling our flight four days later on the Monday, and that the team would be split up onto different flights. The tournament was starting the following day and so this wasn’t an option for us” Russell explained.
“We were told that the plane hadn’t even left Portugal. easyJet didn’t help beyond offering us an inconvenient option and it was all left on our shoulders. We felt very much on our own.”
The group were forced to call a coach to take them home. While on route back to Essex, they were all frantically calling easyJet and other airlines to see if they could get to Portugal in time for kick-off.
Team Talks And Decisions To Be Made
“We didn’t want to miss the tournament and let the other side down and most of all the charity and those that had donated so we tried our best not to give up. We started desperately ringing round other airlines to see if we could get a flight out that evening.
easyJet were impossible to get through to and finally Jet2 reserved us 25 seats for that evening from Birmingham at an extra cost of £2,000 and a £500 coach fare. Not everyone had the money to hand so people lent each other money and seven men had to ‘take one for the team’ and head home.
“We had to dip into money that was saved for family holidays amongst other things. It wasn’t easy to just stump up the money and we were lucky we could club together as much as we did albeit at a cost of losing seven men.”
Off The Bus And Straight Onto The Pitch
Seven men down, 24 hours, four coach journeys and £6,000 later, the team arrived in Lagos, having had to delay the start of the first match.
“We hadn’t slept for the best part of 48 hours and had missed a dinner the night before that was planned with both teams. As soon as we arrived, we were on a coach to the football pitch.
I am disgusted by the lack of care easyJet has shown towards our situation. They should be prepared to accommodate large groups of passengers. We found out about the cancellation a couple of hours before take-off and up until then, the airline knew the plane hadn’t even left Portugal.”
Not All Was Lost
The team finished fourth in the tournament and raised a total of €1,650 for Riding for the Disabled Barlavento, a voluntary, non-profit charity situated West of the Algarve, Portugal. The charity aims to make a difference to the lives of disabled people through improving health and well-being.
The Final Whistle
Once home, Russell contacted the airline on behalf of all 32 passengers asking for compensation, citing EU Regulation and provided all the receipts totalling up to £6,000 to ask for a refund.
easyJet wrote back saying we weren’t entitled to compensation or a reimbursement and that was the end of it. Their customer services said they do not cover any pre and post flight arrangements!
The team have instructed Bott and Co to claim compensation for the loss of time and inconvenience caused. Bott and Co are also helping them recover the out of pocket expenses and will take the airline to court if necessary.
Russell said: “None of us will use easyJet ever again, we’ve lost all trust with them but we won’t stop the tournament because of their incompetence, it’s for a good cause.”
If the claim is successful, Bott and Co will be donating money to Riding for the Disabled Barlavento.