Published: 12:01, 09 November 2014
A family with a deaf daughter who were stranded abroad for three days at Christmas have lost their battle for compensation.
The Wilsons, from Lydd-on-Sea, were stuck in Tenerife after their easyJet plane was cancelled and no alternative flight was provided.
Aviation authorities in Spain granted compensation of 1,600 euros (£1,248) from the airline but last Friday Canterbury County Court refused to uphold that.
Mum Janet Wilson, of Lade Fort Crescent said: “We should be able to trust a company with a multi-million pound turnover to get us home.
“I feel disappointed that we have not been able to have that ruling given in Spain upheld in this country.”
Mrs Wilson, 56, her husband Roger, 70, and daughters Adel, now 17, who is deaf, and Karina, now 14, were due to catch the 12.05pm last Christmas Eve after a holiday there.
“We should be able to trust a company with a multi-million pound turnover to get us home" - Janet Wilson
But their plane was cancelled following a power failure at Gatwick Airport after one of that winter’s many rainstorms struck.
They had to re-rent their apartment for another three nights, having prepared to celebrate Christmas at their Marsh home, and couldn’t fly back until December 27.
Mrs Wilson said: “At first we were kept in the dark and we were not told why were stranded and were not told until 5pm that Christmas Eve that our flight was actually cancelled.
“We had cleared our apartment of food and when we returned there we had trouble finding places to eat over the holiday period.
“We could barely celebrate Christmas as we had left all our presents in England. There was a fiesta in Tenerife on Christmas Day so we were at least able to enjoy that.
“The worst was that easyJet had an alternative flight to Southend that Christmas Eve but we were not treated as a priority and put on it even with two children, one deaf.
“easyJet never helped us at all, never even organising a taxi for us.”
Spanish civil aviation authority the AESA (Agencia Estatal de Seguridad Aerea) ruled that the Wilsons were entitled to 1,600 euros compensation from easyJet.
This was on the argument that easyJet did not take reasonable measures to get the family home. They had been told that if they used another airline, they would have to pay another fare.
However AESA’s ruling was not enforceable in England and the case went to Canterbury County Court.
"We did everything possible to try and help passengers travel home for Christmas..." - easyJet
But its interpretation was that the company had taken reasonable measures. The court had heard that the airline had, for instance, tried to bring in two alternative planes from Liverpool and Amsterdam. But that was not possible due to issues including crew availability.
The family was also 491 euros (£382.98) out of pocket by the extra three days of expenses such as re-renting the flat, but were reimbursed through their insurance.
A spokesman for easyJet said: “As a result of the power failure Gatwick on December 24 easyJet was forced to cancel 83 flights to and from the airport.
“We apologise sincerely to Mr and Mrs Wilson and their two children as well as to all passengers who were affected by this and understand how frustrating and disappointing this was, particularly at Christmas.
“We did our best to operate as many services as possible on the 24th, only cancelling flights as a last resort. And we offered transfers to alternative easyJet flights free of charge to all easyJet passengers who were unable to fly due to cancellations.
“We did everything possible to try and help passengers travel home for Christmas, including operating flights on Christmas Day from the UK for the first time.
“However we apologise that the first flight we could get the Wilsons back to London was on the 27th.
“Whilst there was a flight operating from Tenerife to Southend on the 24th it was not possible to accommodate them.”
The company said this was because of the number of passengers already booked on that flight plus the numbers transferred on it from the cancelled service. This meant there were not enough seats available for all.
The spokesman added: “Whilst more than 2,000 hotel rooms were booked across the network for our passengers there was a shortage of accommodation in Tenerife over Christmas. As a result we were unable to book accommodation for the Wilson family.
“We apologise that this was the case and at the time we advised the Wilsons to seek accommodation independently and submit a claim for reimbursement upon their return to the UK.”
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