We were due to fly home from Corfu to Newcastle with easyJet on Sunday 9 October 2016. On Saturday morning when I checked my emails, I noticed an email from easyJet informing me that our flight had been cancelled due to a strike by Greek air traffic controllers.
At that stage, the strike was due to last until Monday 10 October, with the possibility of another two day strike on Wednesday 12 and Thursday 13 October.
As I had booked the easyJet flight and our accommodation at the Mayor Capo Di Corfu through Broadway Travel, I thought that I’d better phone them once I received the cancellation email. When you have not booked your own flight directly with on the easyJet website, you can’t manage your booking online.
After three attempts to call, the final taking more than one hour, Broadway Travel informed that as I had purchased a dynamic package, versus a package holiday, the could only look into alternative flights for me. I would have to arrange and pay for our accommodation and then reclaim it from easyJet.
I asked when I would hear back from Broadway Travel regarding flight options. There was no time given, just that customers with flights the following day were a priority.
When I hadn’t heard back from Broadway Travel by 5pm, I thought that I’d better phone easyJet. The options of departing from a different airport in Greece and/or flying back to different airport to the UK or getting a refund for our flights were discussed. But with the possible virtual back to back strikes by Greek air traffic controllers, the best option appeared to be to get booked on the next Corfu to Newcastle flight on Sunday 16 October.
Once the easyJet customer service rep had re-booked the flights, I asked her for confirmation that easyJet would refund our accommodation costs for the additional seven days. I told her that my intention was to stay on at the Mayor Capo Di Corfu, assuming that they had availability. She told me that I would be reimbursed for the accommodation.
In fact, the strike was called off on the evening of Saturday 8 October, but it was too late for easyJet to reinstate the flight the following day.
On the Sunday morning, I went the hotel reception to check if they had availability for the week.
Our original stay at the Capo Di Corfu was on an all-inclusive basis. However, as I wasn’t sure if easyJet would cover this, as it states on their website that reasonable expenses including accommodation, meals and refreshments (excluding alcohol) will be refunded.
Now as I’m a teetotaler, I wouldn’t have been drinking any alcohol. My husband drinks the odd glass of wine or beer. Personally, I did feel that it was reasonable to continue on the same board basis.
There was also the issue of the cost, as I was going to have to pay for the accommodation upfront. I had no idea how long it would take for easyJet to refund me.
The hotel did have availability for the week They quoted 960 Euro for a seven night all inclusive stay. The cost for half board was 738 Euro.
I decided that, on balance, I had better go for the half board option, I felt that easyJet would be less likely to contest this, and I didn’t want to be even more out of pocket for an undefined period.
We had a hire car, which had to be returned to Corfu Airport on Sunday 9 October. I doubt if easyJet would have refunded another week of car rental. Returning the hire car to the airport was very inconvenient, as it’s a minimum one hour drive from the resort to Corfu Airport.
I will have to pay 70 Euro for a taxi to the airport on Sunday 16 October, assuming that there are no further changes to our flight. I will have to pay this in cash. As I was coming on an all inclusive holiday, I only brought a few Euro in cash with me. I will have to ask the taxi driver to stop at a cash machine enroute to the airport.
In my opinion, it is really bewildering to be left in this situation.
Now I’m not blaming easyJet. That strike by Greek air traffic controllers was outwith their control. The pay upfront for your expenses and then reclaim procedure, is standard under EU regulation.
What I’d like to see is a change in the EU legislation.
There should be a detailed explanation of reasonable expenses on the website of every airline covered by EU legislation. How on earth can I judge what the airline will consider to be a reasonable expense?
The airline should be obliged to pay the accommodation supplier directly in a situation like ours.
Now while being in Corfu for another week is not exactly a hardship, especially with me being able to work online, the £666 which I have had to pay for our accommodation is weighing on my mind.
My credit card statement is due on 16 October. So I will have to pay the balance around three weeks later. I am not convinced that I will have received the refund from easyJet by then.
There is also the issue of currency fluctuations. If the UK pound keeps falling, a refund of Euro converted a lower rate will leave me out of pocket. To try to avoid this, I have taken a photo of my credit card statement, which shows the amount paid for the accommodation in UK pounds. But the receipt from the hotel is quoted in Euro.
I really feel left hung out to dry. Dealing with the flight cancellation took hours and spoilt the holiday. Now I am concerned if easyJet will fully reimburse me, and when I will receive the cash from them.