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Friday, 7 January 2011

EasyJet treats Paris-Toulouse passengers to a 10-hour journey

Another tale of travel woes in France and one in which you pays your money and you takes your chances perhaps.

This time around though it's not the weather that's solely to blame and it doesn't involve Air France-KLM or the state-owned railway SNCF.

Instead it's the British-based lowcost airline easyJet and the 10 hours it took for passengers aboard one of its flights to make a trip that normally takes a maximum of one hour and 30 minutes.

It happened last Sunday as the 141 aboard the 'plane made the journey from the French capital to the southwestern city of Toulouse.

A two-hour delay in taking off because of maintenance problems certainly didn't put passengers in the best of moods, but worse was to come.

As the 'plane approached its destination the captain refused to land because apparently conditions were too windy and instead redirected 240 kilometres away to Montpellier, where passengers then boarded buses to complete their journey.

"Weather conditions" coupled with "technical problems that didn't affect flight safety", according to the airline were the reason for the diversion, but passengers aboard the flight weren't so sure they were being told the whole story.

"When we arrived at Montpellier I overheard one of the ground staff talking via two-way radio with a colleague saying that the 'plane wouldn't be taking off again," Luc Mousseaux, a passenger aboard the flight told BFM TV

"That makes me wonder if the weather really was the reason for not being able to land," he added.

That's a view backed up by an aviation expert who, according to the national daily Le Figaro, said the wind had not been particularly strong around the city on the afternoon in question but admitted that the decision about whether to land was entirely at the captain's discretion.

As is company policy, easyJet did offer any compensation apart from refreshment vouchers and passengers are not entitled to any reimbursement because, as far as the airline is concerned, it met its obligation of ensuring passengers arrived at their destination.

Toulouse or 'La Ville Rose" as it is nicknamed is one of France's largest cities. It's home to one of Europe's top rugby teams, and of course is the base of Airbus.

It's also a major destination for holidaymakers in summer as it's very much the gateway to the whole of the southwestern region of the country.

The Paris-Toulouse route is a busy one, and the city is one of the destinations for the Navette or shuttle service operated by Air France from both Orly and Roissy-Charles de Gaulle.

In total the company operates 30 scheduled flights from both Paris airports combined each day and during peak hours there's a 'plane leaving every 30 minutes.

Not surprisingly perhaps easyJet has also grabbed a piece of the action with five Toulouse-bound flights leaving Paris every day.


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