That’s exactly the question two Spanish passengers onboard a recent easyJet flight from Asturias in northern Spain to London Stansted asked when their flight encountered an hour-long delay on the tarmac. But rather than receiving an apology for the delay, easyJet instead booted the passengers off the flight with the help of Spain’s Civil Guard.
The incident, which took place on 26th October, started when bad weather in London forced air traffic controllers to delay flights bound for the British capital. Unfortunately, all the passengers on easyJet flight U2 3084 had already boarded when the crew learned of the delay.
The cabin crew were quick to inform the passengers of the reason for the delay but there was one crucial problem – none of the flight attendants or flight crew could speak Spanish. According to the Spanish newspaper, La Nueva España, the Standsted-based crew did their best to explain the delay, although clearly something was lost in translation.
Two of the Spanish-speaking passengers were obviously irked and took to berating the cabin crew for not having a single staffer onboard who was fluent in their native language. It probably didn’t help that they’d already faced a stiff telling-off for trying to drink alcohol which hadn’t been bought from easyJet’s fancy sounding ‘Bistro’.
With other passengers soon joining in berating the crew over their lack of foreign language skills, it looks like easyJet wasn’t willing to take any chances of an onboard mutiny. Cabin crew called Spain’s Civil Guard and despite attempts by fellow travellers to protest their innocence, the two instigators were led off the plane.
What with the weather delay and law enforcement being called to the aircraft, the flight eventually landed in Stansted nearly an hour late.
Commentators on social media have been split on who was in the wrong – some think it’s only logical for cabin crew to have foreign language skills and it was reasonable for non-English speaking passengers to want to know the reason for the delay.
Others, however, have pointed out that easyJet is a British airline and has no obligation to provide services in a different language. They also say that English is the international language of aviation and in the event of an emergency, cabin crew would normally revert to speaking English anyway.
Whatever the case, it seems to make good business sense to crew flights with foreign language speakers – especially on certain routes where a large number of passengers might not speak the native language that the majority of the airline’s crew speak.
That, though, probably isn’t too much of a consideration on most European flights where a large percentage of passengers speak English as either their first or second language – especially for a budget carrier like easyJet.
What do you think? Should airline’s hire more foreign language speakers? Or is it acceptable that cabin crew at a British airline can only speak English?
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.