A holidaymaker who boarded a Ryanair flight to Faro and ended up some 250 miles away in Malaga chronicled his nightmare trip in a series of hilarious tweets.
Against the background of a French air traffic controllers’ strike, Barry Masterson boarded a flight to Faro, the capital of Portugal’s picturesque Algarve region.
But, he told the Daily Star: “The flight was delayed multiple times for multiple hours which can happen for sure. It feels like they eventually took off knowing it was extremely unlikely the plane would be accepted in Faro.”
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Barry was right. The plane was not accepted in Faro and had to be diverted to Malaga. After they landed, Barry tweeted: "Morale is low, some people are only just realising we're in Spain”.
Things didn’t get any better. The passengers were sent on to their final destination by bus.
“We're on a 5 hour bus to Portugal now and we've stopped for petrol and pee stops within 5 minutes”, Barry mournfully tweeted, adding: “One bus for 157 people, good luck to everyone we left behind “
At one point he nodded off. But only briefly: “Oh no, this wasn't a dream, just woke up, I'm still on a bus in who knows where”.
Things got worse when the taxi firm Barry had booked to carry him from Faro airport to his hotel angrily contacted him demanding to know why he wasn’t there to be collected.
As more and more Twitter users started following Barry’s tale of woe, he said: “I’m sorry we didn't call to warn you from literally thousands of feet in the air that we were being taken hostage to the wrong country”.
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In response to Twitter users’ questions about what had happened, Barry replied; "Our best assumption is that Ryanair knew we could never land in Faro, because our flight was delayed so long the airport would be closed before we made it.
“So they lied and flew us to Spain so they wouldn't have to refund everyone”.
Adding that he was furious with Ryanair head Michael O’Leary, he joked: “I've finally become a ‘shouting at a brand’ on Twitter guy. Look what they've done to me”.
However, the story does have a happy-ish ending.
He added: “We had to spend €55 on a taxi for the final leg of the journey, but I have now had a shower and I need food”.
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Another passenger on the same flight, Aileen Marron, tweeted: “I was on this flight! Disgraceful service by Ryanair, who never had any intention of taking us to Faro, we know now the airport closed at 2am, we took off just before 1am Portugal time. Don't send YouTube videos blaming French air traffic controllers, you wanted to avoid refunds”.
"The biggest issue was the lack of communication,” Barry told the Daily Star. “They took off knowing it was extremely unlikely the plane would be accepted in Faro.
“They didn't mention this to anyone until they announced we were en route to Malaga. Air hostess explained the Faro closing times like it was a perfectly normal thing we should have known about”.
“We left at 5:30am or so on the first bus to Faro," he continued.
"Only because my girlfriend has a chronic illness and we basically had to plead to be given two of the last 4 seats on the bus. The journey was far tougher on her, the elderly passengers and kids than it was for me really! 100 or so other people were then left behind to wait for further busses, but I think one of those did not leave for a number of hours”
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A Ryanair spokesperson told the Daily Star: “"This flight from Dublin to Faro (16 Sept) diverted to Malaga having missed Faro Airport's curfew due to disruption from the French Air Traffic Control (ATC) strike, which was entirely beyond our control and impacted all airlines flying to/from/over France that day.
“To minimise disruption to passengers, Ryanair quickly arranged for a coach to transport passengers from Malaga Airport to their final destination.
“Ryanair sincerely apologises to passengers for the inconvenience caused as a result of this unjustified French ATC strike."
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