EasyJet passengers were left stranded on Thursday after a major IT fault forced the airline to cancel 200 flights.
Flights scheduled to depart between 1pm and 3pm were cancelled or postponed because of the systems failure, with some passengers told to book alternative flights.
Passengers stranded at the airport described scenes of confusion as they waited for hours for information about the status of their flights.
One passenger stranded at Manchester Airport wrote on Twitter: “Armed police everywhere, flights grounded. EasyJet not giving any information to anyone. Airport staff not sure, message keeps changing, being escorted away from the gates. I don’t like to be a pessimist but I think we’re not making it to Italy today.”
In a statement, EasyJet said: “Our team of IT specialists are working to restore the systems as soon as possible.
“We advise customers due to travel with us today to continue to check flight tracker to check the status of their flight before making their way to the airport.
“We apologise for the inconvenience caused and would like to thank customers for their patience as we work to resolve this as soon as possible.”
‘Don’t even bother coming to airport’
However, passengers claimed that information on the airline’s mobile app contradicted that on airport display boards – with the latter stating that help was available at departure gates when there were, in fact, no staff members around to help.
Ana Finch said: “Don’t even bother coming to the airport, checked our bags, sent us to a gate, said our flight was boarding, then found hundreds of other passengers all being told the flights are cancelled as we were meant to board.”
Callum Lake added: “EasyJet you’ve cancelled my flight, I’m stuck in Prague, your website isn’t working it’s not letting me manage my bookings what do you expect me to do?”
Consumer groups said that customers were likely eligible for refunds as the disruption was caused by the airline’s own IT infrastructure.
‘Customers are likely due compensation and should lodge a claim’
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “Thousands of passengers are facing huge inconvenience and many will be left out of pocket by this IT failure.
“Unhelpfully, some passengers seem to have been advised by EasyJet that this disruption is out of its control and an extraordinary circumstance, but the problem appears to be its own IT system so customers are likely to be due compensation and should lodge a claim.
“The airline must also offer the option of a refund or to rebook passengers on any reasonable route as quickly as possible, using other carriers where necessary.”