Around 200 British Airways passengers from Costa Rica who were due to return on Christmas Eve morning are now expected to land in the UK on Boxing Day.
Flight BA2236 was scheduled to leave San José for London Gatwick on the evening of December 23. Initially, passengers were to expect a 90-minute delay on their overnight journey.
But the Boeing 777 that was supposed to fly them suffered a cracked windshield and required special attention.
Jo Mitchell and Geir Olafsson were on their honeymoon in Costa Rica and left their resort on the Pacific coast hoping to return via Gatwick to Edinburgh in time for a family Christmas.
Dr Mitchell said The independent: “My husband is partly Icelandic and his family who live in Edinburgh celebrate Christmas on December 24th.
“We were desperately trying to find a connecting flight at this point that would get us in time to not miss her family’s Christmas.
“The BA app was saying something vague about postponing the flight overnight. However, the flight time showed only a four hour delay. We hadn’t received any information via email or message so hoped this was just a problem.
“We dropped our car off and continued to the airport, desperately hoping that was not true.”
They stood in line at the airport for several hours. “The only indication of the delay was that we could hear people talking in the queue, and the fact that everyone who went to check in left the office with their suitcases,” Dr Mitchell said.
“When it was our turn to check in, reception staff in San José told us that the plane had a broken windshield and it would be too dangerous to bring it back.
“At this point we were devastated – realizing that we were going to miss Christmas with our two families.
“The people in the queue were begging the staff for an alternative, some angry, others crying. People were bursting into tears because it was the first time they had been told they were going to miss Christmas.
After a night in a hotel where the only meals available were at a Denny’s fast food restaurant, all passengers were returned to the airport on Christmas Eve for a scheduled departure at 10 p.m., arriving around 11 a.m. on December 25.
With no Christmas Day flights from Gatwick to Edinburgh, Dr Mitchell and Mr Olafsson booked a rental car online, priced at £ 450 for the 440 mile journey between Sussex and Scotland. They checked their baggage and proceeded to departures.
But British Airways’ attempt to divert another plane from Jamaica to Costa Rica to pick them up on Christmas Eve failed as the crew neared the end of their authorized working hours.
Dr Mitchell said: ‘We got to the departure gate to find people running and crying after receiving phone calls from family telling them the flight had been canceled.
“We waited in panic for 30 minutes before someone came to make an announcement, accompanied by several police officers.
“We had to wait until they received some sort of letter to approve us back through security. It took a while and people were really frustrated that they had to wait even longer. “
Return to the same hotel. “The hotel bar was closed, we couldn’t even drown our grief,” Dr Mitchell said.
Pilots and cabin crew also unexpectedly spent Christmas away from home.
On December 25, the replacement aircraft flew from Montego Bay to San José. But the scheduled 6:50 p.m. departure time for Gatwick was missed, apparently due to a discrepancy in passenger numbers.
Before the plane took off, several passengers tweeted British Airways. Alice Hill wrote: “The BA2236 saga of San José continues, 1h30 sitting on the tarmac while the ground personnel have not been able to count who exactly is on the flight.
“BA cabin crew are excellent and as frustrated as we are. Merry Christmas.”
Another passenger, Loki, wrote: “Your fk up is colossal. We were stranded for two days on Christmas flight BA2236. Absolutely no fault of the crew on board, but your inability to communicate after what was an unfortunate technical glitch is a shame.
British Airways responded on Twitter: “We don’t underestimate the annoyance and frustration this delay has caused, Loki.
“We are so sorry that we were unable to get you home in time to celebrate Christmas. We assure you that your comments have been passed on to the relevant teams.
BA2236 finally left 50 hours late at 8:35 p.m. on Christmas Day and is expected to arrive shortly after noon on December 26.
A British Airways spokesperson said The independent: “We would like to offer our sincerest apologies to the customers of this flight, who saw their Christmas plans ruined. We will never fly an airplane unless we believe it is completely safe to do so, and on this occasion our engineers were unable to clear it to fly.
“Since then, our teams have worked behind the scenes to do everything possible to ensure that an aircraft is ready at the earliest opportunity to bring customers to London. We appreciate the patience and understanding of our customers and our engineers and colleagues who also went out of their way to help. “
British Airways is likely to cover the reimbursable costs. In addition, each passenger can claim £ 520 in cash under the air passenger rights rules.