Published: 00:01, 21 October 2016
A bridesmaid and her husband who missed a wedding have accused an airline of being too cautious in cancelling their flight to the USA over fears of a hurricane.
While other airlines continued with departures, Darrel and Danielle Relf were the only members of a wedding party of 23 from England who were stopped from going.
They missed arriving at Orlando just before the airport was closed because of Hurricane Matthew.
Mrs Relf, 34, was due to be a bridesmaid at her best friend’s wedding, and their trip, scrapped because of the United Airlines cancellation, meant they had to write off £2,000.
Mr Relf, 44, of Church Street, Walmer, said: “United Airlines were being over-cautious because BA and Virgin continued flights.
“A group from England, mostly from Deal, were able to get there, all except us.”
The aborted trip cost nearly £2,000, and they are now seeking compensation but claim their insurance company is refusing to reimburse them.
United Airlines did not respond to a request for a comment before the Mercury went to press.
Mr and Mrs Relf had been trying to attend the wedding of their friends, Elizabeth and James Foster, at a country club in Orlando on Monday, October 10, at 5pm local time.
They were booked to leave Heathrow at 9.30am on Thursday, October 6, arriving at 6.30pm in Orlando.
They would have landed in Orlando exactly 90 minutes before Orlando Airport was closed for 12 hours.
The couple received a text warning them of the cancellation as they were driving to Heathrow.
United Airlines offered the couple an alternative flight on the day of the wedding, arriving at Orlando International Airport at 6.30pm.
Mr Relf said: “By the time we got through the airport’s customs and baggage reclaim and got to the wedding venue, we would have missed the whole thing by several hours.
“Hurricane Matthew hit coastal areas but Orlando is much further inland, and our friends who were there were unharmed. They only experienced high winds.”
The only other alternative offered to the Relfs would have been a business class BA flight at £4,000, which they could not afford.
The couple have four children, aged 11 months to 14 years, who were due to stay with relatives while they were away.
Mr Relf said: “My wife was particularly upset because she was to be a bridesmaid at the wedding of her best friend, someone she has been friends with since she was five.
“She was planning this for months. She’s looked at it from the emotional side but I’ve looked at it from the practical side – how much money this has cost us.”
The loss amounted to £823 for the flight, £500 for five nights at a villa in Orlando, £200 for car hire for six days and £100 for parking at Heathrow over five days and £200 in cancelled trips to attractions such as Universal Studios.
With no offer of compensation from United so far, they have tried to seek redress from compensation claim specialists Flight Delays flightdelays.co.uk/flight-compensation/flight-delay-compensation