Northern Ireland fans have slammed airline Easyjet after they missed a “once in a lifetime chance” to go to today’s Euro 2016 game against Wales in Paris.
The supporters were left angry and devastated in the early hours of this morning after controversy over a flight from Belfast International to London Gatwick.
Alan Hylands from Banbridge was booked on the 8pm Easjet flight and were due to catch connecting overnight bus to Paris well in time for the second round tie at the Parc de Princes.
Many other members of the Green and White Army on the flight had made similar arrangements.
He explained how a frustrating night unfolded at Aldergrove as first the flight was delayed and then eventually passengers were taken to the departure gate.
“We were all ready with our boarding cards when a member of staff said the flight had been cancelled,” said Alan. “There was pandemonium, it wasn’t just football fans waiting on the flight, there were families with young children who had been waiting for five or six hours, there were elderly people, people who were trying to get connecting flights.”
A staff member escorted around 200 passengers back to the Easyjet desk and then Mr Hylands said there was an about-turn from the airline - the flight was back on!
“There was lots of singing Will Grigg’s on fire, and everyone walked back up to the gate again,” he said. “But there was more waiting about and when we saw airport police walking past us we feared the worst again. It was 1am and we were then told that around 20 people had gone through the gate and the plane was taking off without the rest of us. There were families and the elderly standing around in the airport at that time of the night. The guy at the Easyjet desk told us there were no more flights to Paris until Monday or Tuesday and told us to go back home and ring the airline in the morning.
“It was shocking customer service. People say you get what you pay for with low-cost airlines but even if I’d paid £50 for those flights, and I paid a lot more, I would have expected much better service than this.”
Alan said he was devastated at missing the game and will instead watch from home on television. “About the half the people going on that plane were Northern Ireland fans and we have missed out on a once in a lifetime chance.”