The low-cost airline EasyJet has been forced to apologise to customers after it claimed they weren’t entitled to compensation for a delayed flight because there was snow on the runway that needed to be cleared – the only problem was that the flight was in August and the temperature on the day in question hit 22 °C (71.6 °F).
EasyJet flight 5104 from Jersey to London Gatwick on August 15 was scheduled to depart at 8:45 am but didn’t end up taking off until gone midday. Passengers on the short 35-minute hop over to Gatwick Airport aboard the Airbus A320 eventually arrived just over three hours late.
Under long-standing European compensation rules, airline passengers delayed for more than three hours are entitled to compensation, and in this case, a payout of €250 per passenger was potentially owed unless EasyJet could prove that the delay was an ‘exceptional circumstance’ outside of its control.
Some of the delayed passengers onboard EasyJet flight 5104 submitted their claims for compensation to the airline but were left stunned when they received a quick response back from EasyJet informing them that their claim had been rejected because the runway at Jersey Airport was covered in snow.
Jersey is located near the coast of northwest France and generally enjoys mild winters and warm summers. The island is even claimed to be “the sunniest place in the British Isles”.
But, in explaining why it was refusing passengers compensation, EasyJet wrote in its letter: “To further explain what happened on the day, Jersey had to close its runway for snow clearance, resulting in flights holding overhead for extended periods or having to divert to alternative airports.”
“Long delays built up during the day. Some flights had to be cancelled, others experienced delays.”
The official temperature on August 15 was recorded at a snow-defying 22.8 Celcius.
It turns out, however, that the letter was based on incorrect information that had been manually entered into a delay recording system at Easyjet’s operation control centre.
The operator was meant to have recorded the reason for the delay as due to early morning fog but inputted snow instead, according to an EasyJet spokesperson. The airline told ITV News that its “operations control centre manually logs the reason for the delay in our system, and so this was as the result of human error.”
So does this now mean that the passengers will be entitled to compensation? Sadly not says EasyJet. The airline maintains that the foggy weather conditions still count as an exceptional circumstance which was outside of its control.
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.