Holidaymakers who flew out of Bristol yesterday morning to head off to sunny Madeira have explained how they ended up spending the night at a hotel in Gatwick.
The passengers endured a chaotic 17-hour journey when the flight was only supposed to take around 3.5 hours.
The easyJet flight from Bristal to Funchal was forced to circle the island twice before diverting to a different island.
It then had to head over to the Portugal mainland and finally returned to Bristol.
Throughout the meandering flight passengers were not permitted to exit the plane once, reports BristolLive.
When the plane descended into Bristol after the 11-hour flight they were waiting almost three hours to find out what was going on. And, many have described “chaotic” scenes.
Those on board the flight wound up being bussed over to Gatwick, checked into a nearby hotel after midnight and told they would have to re-check in at 5am this morning.
Airline easyJet has apologised for the situation and claims high winds at Funchal Airport meant that the flight was cancelled while already in the air.
Brits on board have now arrived at Cristiano Ronaldo Airport on the Madeiran island around 24 hours later than planned.
Reports from the holidaymakers suggest that a “great camaraderie” developed among the group as the situation worsened.
One passenger noted: “They told us that the wind speed at Funchal was too high to land, but we were stacked up in a queue twice and other planes made it down.
“We saw Madeira from the air multiple times but never managed to land at Funchal – the diversion to Porto Santo, which was very nearby, was apparently to take on fuel to circle Funchal again several more times without landing.”
They added: “The pilot then made some excuse about needing more fuel from Faro and had clearly decided we were heading back to Bristol afterwards.
“No one was allowed out at Porto Santo, and no reason was given and if we’d have gotten off there we could have got a ferry to Funchal.
“A handful of passengers with hand luggage only were allowed off at Faro, but told they were then on their own as the company had decided Bristol was where we were being taken.”
However, having seen the holiday destination from the air, the travellers trip ended where it began at 6pm – and they say things only got worse from there.
Cardiff University scientist Timothy Easun, who was travelling on a family holiday commented: “When we got back to Bristol it was chaotic and the phone line staff were giving little to no consistent information and frequently dropping the calls.
“One of the subcontracted ground staff went above and beyond to find out what was going on, to get us on a coach to Gatwick, that got us to a hotel just after midnight, from where we had to book ourselves taxis to Gatwick itself for 5 am to get there in time for the morning flight.
“Which we have had to book ourselves and will have to claim back.”
The group spent around three hours at Bristol Airport with no idea what was happening.
Timothy said: “There was a total lack of communication at Bristol.
“We started optimistic on the plane, but when the pilot pulled us out of the waiting stack and headed to Faro it was obvious we were in for a really long day.
“People were most upset that the pilot led us on to think we might go back to try again when it was evident we wouldn’t, and that there was no support on the ground in Bristol: The app didn’t work, the website wasn’t working and the people on the phone were rude and unhelpful.
“By the time the coach arrived we were all very tired and resigned to our fate.”
A spokesperson for easyJet apologised for what happened, and said the windspeed was too high to be safe to land.
“We can confirm that flight EZY6245 from Bristol to Funchal diverted to Porto Santo and subsequently to Faro, as a result of winds gusting outside the limits of the aircraft,” he said. “As the forecast was unfortunately not set to improve, the decision was taken to return to Bristol the flight was to be cancelled.
“Whilst this was outside of our control we are very sorry for the inconvenience caused as a result of the weather.
“We did all possible to minimise the impact of the disruption for affected customers, providing hotel meals and accommodation where required, as well as the option to transferring to an alternative for free, or receive a voucher or refund.
“The safety and wellbeing of our customers and crew is our highest priority.”