The flight, from Bristol to Funchal circled the island twice before heading to a different island, and then onto the Portugal mainland, before being sent back to Bristol without passengers leaving the aircraft. Upon arrival in Bristol, passengers described “chaotic” scenes as many were then bussed to London Gatwick where they spent a night in a hotel before a 5.00am check-in for another attempt to make it to the island.
Easyjet apologised for the situation, blaming high winds for the ordeal.
Those on board finally arrived at Cristiano Ronaldo Airport on the Madeiran island, around 24 hours later than planned, and said the best thing about the experience was the passengers developed “great camaraderie” in the face of a deteriorating situation.
One passenger said of the trip: “They told us the wind speed at Funchal was too high to land, but we were stacked up in a queue twice and other planes made it down.
“We saw Madeira from the air multiple times but never managed to land at Funchal.”
He continued: “The diversion to Porto Santo, which was very nearby, was apparently to take on fuel to circle Funchal again several more times without landing.
“The pilot then made some excuse about needing more fuel from Faro and had clearly decided we were heading back to Bristol afterwards.
“No one was allowed out at Porto Santo, and no reason was given and if we’d have gotten off there we could have got a ferry to Funchal.
“A handful of passengers with hand luggage only were allowed off at Faro, but told they were then on their own as the company had decided Bristol was where we were being taken.”
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Another passenger, a Timothy Easun said: “When we got back to Bristol it was chaotic and the phone line staff were giving little to no consistent information and frequently dropping the calls.
“One of the subcontracted ground staff went above and beyond to find out what was going on, to get us on a coach to Gatwick, that got us to a hotel just after midnight, from where we had to book ourselves taxis to Gatwick itself for 5 am to get there in time for the morning flight.
“Which we have had to book ourselves and will have to claim back.
“There was a total lack of communication at Bristol.
“We started optimistic on the plane, but when the pilot pulled us out of the waiting stack and headed to Faro it was obvious we were in for a really long day.
“People were most upset the pilot led us on to think we might go back to try again when it was evident we wouldn’t, and there was no support on the ground in Bristol: The app didn’t work, the website wasn’t working and the people on the phone were rude and unhelpful.
“By the time the coach arrived, we were all very tired and resigned to our fate.”
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A spokesperson for EasyJet apologised for what happened and said the wind speed was too high to be safe to land.
“We can confirm flight EZY6245 from Bristol to Funchal diverted to Porto Santo and subsequently to Faro, as a result of winds gusting outside the limits of the aircraft.
“As the forecast was unfortunately not set to improve, the decision was taken to return to Bristol the flight was to be cancelled.”
“Whilst this was outside of our control we are very sorry for the inconvenience caused as a result of the weather.
“We did all possible to minimise the impact of the disruption for affected customers, providing hotel meals and accommodation where required, as well as the option to transferring to an alternative for free, or receive a voucher or refund.
“The safety and wellbeing of our customers and crew is our highest priority.”