I was interested in this story about Ryanair passengers on a flight from Morocco to France, which landed in Belgium because of curfews at Paris, their original destination. Their flight had been delayed when taking off, and Ryanair followed procedures and landed at another airport. Their policy is to bus the passengers to their original destination.
The passengers were in uproar. One hundred angry people sat in a dark cabin without food or water for four hours refusing to leave their plane. Mostly French tourists who were supposed to land near Paris after returning from holidays in Morocco, they saw only one course of action. Protest.
As it turned out, a firefighter did the negotiations as the crew walked off the plane. After several hours of negotiations with furious passengers, they were convinced to leave the plane and wait inside the airport for buses that would take them to their original destination.
There is a sense in which the protest was simply stupid. What else could have the airline done? They had buses to take them to the original destination airport.
But on the other hand, I can also understand why the passengers were so cross.
What surprises me is that this sort of protest hasn't happened before. One might ask, what available options are there to complain. Sending letters means nothing. Its significance of the delay gets lost in the mist of time.
I'm surprised the passengers didn't go further and destroy the aircraft seats and electrical equipment, or perhaps, set the aircraft's furnishings alight. It just might happen one day.
I recall on one occasion in 2005 our 9.30am flight from Sydney to the Gold Coast was delayed until 4.00pm that afternoon as the aircraft was delayed, initially from Melbourne and then we were advised due to fog, and then an engine problem – the story got 'taller' every time an announcement was made.
One got the clear feeling that to the airline, the word 'passenger' meant 'stupid idiot'.
My protest in writing to the airline on that occasion, was that we'd booked 6 months ahead and it should have been those who booked earliest were assigned the first available seats on those later flights that were on schedule. What the airline did, was to assign those seats to those travellers who booked-in earliest on the day.
That delay was very costly to us as I missed a Country Town Tour mission outreach and had to cancel another appointment which could not be rescheduled on that particular mission trip.
In the correspondence, the airline sent the tried and true letter about safety concerns, when in reality, they were actually short of an aircraft and someone in the airline's office decided to bump our flight number. If it had not been our flight, another flight would have got the chop.
Honesty it seems, is a never a big ticket item with cut price airlines.
It's not unreasonable to suggest that any flight that is delayed is annoying and any flight cancelled is even more annoying. But it might not be such a bad idea for an airline spokesperson to announce, horror of horrors, the truth.
Why not: "Attention: Respected passengers and our loyal frequent flyer members: We stuffed up. We can book you on another flight or give you your money back. Here's the CEO's home phone number and his private mobile number!"
The holidays are coming…Are you ready!! Get set!! Go!!