Published on Monday, February 24, 2020

Airlines struggle to find hotels for passengers stranded in Canary Islands

Airports in the Canary Islands are starting to reopen after a severe sandstorm over the weekend led to flight cancellations and major delays, but passengers are being warned it could take days for normal service to resume.

Jet2 has said no flights will operate on Monday and it will release further details on its website at midday.

The sandstorm has left hundreds of British holidaymakers stranded, many having to spend the night in airports because of a shortage of hotels.

Flights from Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma and North Tenerife have resumed, although South Tenerife airport remained closed on Monday morning.

The customer relations and social media teams at Jet2, TUI, easyJet, Ryanair and other airlines went into overdrive on Sunday in a bid to appease passengers hit by cancellations and major delays.

Many holidaymakers had been due to fly back over the weekend at the end of half-term holidays. Some had already suffered delays on their outbound flights due to Storm Dennis. Over 800 flights were cancelled on Sunday.

EasyJet apologised to customers in Gran Canaria saying it has been unable to find hotels due to 'extremely high demand'.

"Our staff will do everything they can to make your wait in the terminal building as comfortable as possible," it said.

It said if passengers are able to find their own hotel, the airline would refund the cost of a 'reasonably priced room, evening meal and breakfast', plus travel costs to and from the hotel.

But then it specified: "By reasonably priced, we mean a clean and comfortable, mid-range hotel like Premier Inn, IBIS and Holiday Inn. If you choose to spend more than this when mid-range hotels are available we will put a cap on the amount we refund you."

Ryanair said on Sunday that flights in and out of Gran Canaria, Tenerife South and Lanzarote were suspended after gusts of up to 46 mph.

It said the disruption is likely to continue until Monday.

"Rescue flights are been planned to accommodate disrupted customers when visibility improves. Ryanair is currently establishing hotel availability, which is limited," it said.

TUI said it was working tirelessly to 'find the best solutions' but came under fire from customers who complained about a lack of information and direct communication.

Some also complained about poor assistance for passengers at the affected airports.

"Poor assistance for those stranded. My parents are stuck at Tenerife south and my dad who has Parkinsons doesn't even have a seat", said one Tweet.

Jet2 and Jet2holidays said it would continue to supply hotel accommodation and refreshments and updates will be available at regular intervals via SMS and email.

It told passengers due to fly to the Canary Islands to stay home until further notice.

"It is very rare that our schedules are interrupted in this way and we thank you for your understanding at this time," passengers were told.

Which? said it was 'unacceptable' that some travellers have had to sleep at airports on the islands.

Which? Travel editor Rory Boland said: "Passengers affected by the flight cancellations to and from the Canary Islands should have the right to food, refreshments and crucially, overnight accommodation for long delays."


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