Aer Lingus Prevented Me from Going to a Friend's Wedding

Aer Lingus

This summer, there were numerous stories in the UK about airlines cancelling flights, backlogs at airports, piles of luggage at Heathrow, and other flight related travel issues. Most of this was caused by a lack of forethought by the airline industry.

During the pandemic, they cut much of their workforce. Which made sense. However, as we came out of the pandemic, airlines didn’t replace staff at an appropriate rate. So that when someone called in sick, there was no coverage. As people booked vacation for the 2022 summer travel season, airlines didn’t have enough baggage handlers or agents to work the desks, which resulted in delayed and canceled flights.

This happened to me the last weekend of June 2022, resulting in me not being able to attend a close friend’s wedding, thanks to Aer Lingus.

 Day 1 - Thursday June 30th

 We had booked our flight to leave at 5:20pm on Thursday the 30th from Gatwick airport. This would have given us Friday to visit other friends in Ireland and have plenty of time for the Saturday wedding. We prefer to fly from Heathrow, as it is closest to where we live, but with flight options, Gatwick was the best choice for price and flight times.

1:30pm, we left our London flat allowing for plenty of time to arrive at the airport, check it, and any other potential issues that might cause a delay.

 1:40pm (approx), The underground line we are on stops, and there is an announcement about delays on the tube line due to “signal issues”. This is a common cause of delays on the underground. I don’t know if it is a catchall that they just use for delays, or if it was because of the ancient signal system used for the London Underground, that is slow at upgrading. 

 At Shepherd’s Bush, the next station, another announcement about a delay comes on and says that it could take a while. No worries because we planned for delays, plus at that station we could get out and switch to one of London’s overground lines. Which we do.

It isn’t long before we board the overground from Shepherd’s Bush and head south into Clapham Junction, where the line stops, and we have another delay because they needed to wait on a freight train. Again, no worries as we allowed for extra time. The train eventually passed, and at Clapham Junction we changed to The Southern Line and made it to the airport around 3:30pm. Plenty of time for our 5:20pm flight. Good planning on our part.

We arrived at the Aer Lingus check-in counter to see a massive line of people and only two people working. The line was not moving. Unfortunately, we had to wait in line to check our bags. Since we were going to a wedding, she had a dress, and I had a nice suit packed up.

After waiting a while, we heard a rumor through the line that the 5:20 flight was canceled. Some people tire of waiting and leave the line, but there isn’t much we can do until we find out for sure that yes, the flight was indeed canceled.

Needing to get on a new flight, I called Aer Lingus customer service from the line, figuring we will eventually get to the front of the line or I will speak to someone over the phone to get a new flight. After 35 minutes of waiting, I get through to find out they moved us to a new flight the next day at 8:10pm. After asking what else is available, even from other airports, she said, there are 3 seats left on the 5:20 flight. We take that next say instead of the 8:10.

 From there, we leave the airport with our luggage and reverse the trip we just took to get home.

 Day 2 - Friday the1st of July.

Taking the same route to the airport and getting on a very crowded overground with other frustrated travelers, I look at my phone to find out that our flight has been canceled again and moved to Sunday.

I called customer service and hold for an hour and a half (yes, that is really how long I was on hold) before needing to hang up because we arrived at the airport.

This is the new schedule they put us on all happening on Sunday the 3rd, the day after the wedding.

  • Leave London at 09:05am
  • Layover in Manchester, leaving there at 11:55am
  • Arriving in Dublin at 1:10pm
  • Leave Dublin at 5:55pm
  • arriving back in London at 7:30pm

WTF! Leave on a Sunday, stay for a couple hours, then fly right back. The Day after the wedding?!?!

At the airport, one attendant walked around apologizing to us and offering everyone a copy of their terms and conditions, stating that we are eligible for a full refund, as well as £250.00 for additional compensation.

Giving up on Aer Lingus. we looked at changing to Ryan Air and flying out of Stansted. However, due to it being last minute, limited flights, and others doing the same thing, tickets would have cost over 1k for the two of us. Keep in mind, Ryan Air is a discount airline and tickets are usually less than £100 for a trip to Dublin and back. Plus, we would need to get to Stansted, which is around 2 hours and multiple changes on transit to get to from where we were.

Our next thought was, maybe we could take a train and ferry, but the times wouldn’t work. If we had known the previous day, they were going to cancel the second flight we could have arranged this, but it was after 5 in the evening on a Friday.

Our next thought was to rent a car and drive. We could rent the car, drive to Holyhead, stay the night there, and ferry over to Dublin the next day.

We walked over to the car rental counters and looked at that, but the car would have been around £600, plus £250 each way for the ferry. And we could not justify that cost. We aren’t super poor or anything, but we aren’t as financially well off as others, and even though we dearly wanted to be there for our friends, we just couldn’t justify the time and cost.

So, a very sad call was made saying we couldn’t attend the wedding. And an annoyed message was sent to Aer Lingus requesting my money back and compensation. And of course, we canceled our B&B, car rental in Dublin, my wife’s hair appointment, and meetings with friends.

Stay Tuned for Part 2, The response from Aer Lingus

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