This week Flybe went into administration the night before I was due to fly home. LOL
S*** hits the fan
I’d had a great week in Amsterdam, and was due to fly home on budget airline Flybe at 11am on the Thursday. I woke up early to catch the train to the airport. I turned over and saw the following notifications pop up.
Great. What happens now? Flybe sent a text saying don’t travel to the airport. Okay, but what if I’m already abroad?
I remember they arranged lots of repatriation flights when Thomas Cook went under last year to get passengers home. But there was nothing like that so far this morning. There was a limited number of direct flights back to England, and they were selling out fast.
I jumped on a very expensive Jet2 flight later the same day, because otherwise I could be stuck here for days with no money or accommodation.
My travel friend, who worries far more than me, paces up and down because the travel agent just say to contact the hotel, the hotel don’t have a clue what’s happening (and probably can’t understand him), and Flybe’s website just has a notice saying they’ve gone into liquidation.
I’m much calmer, having just swung off the edge of the Lookout skyscraper days earlier. I enjoy this sort of thing. But financially, this leaves me massively out of pocket. On the plus side, I had a whole extra day to enjoy what’s left of Amsterdam. I take a canal tour, taste strudel di mele (apple strudel), and enjoy a pizza.
A ferry and a train later, we’re at the airport. Travel buddy’s still fretting over his lost money, and a little rattled after the train door shut behind me literally just before he stepped on, leaving him separated at the station. My bag gets pulled at security for no reason as usual, but that’s okay because it’s quiet this time of evening and it wasn’t as bad as the full-body pat down I received from the gentleman in Manchester airport 4 nights prior.
We fly home, to the wrong airport, since that’s the only flight we could find, and have to make our way (via kind friends) in the wrong direction to the original airport, because that’s where the car’s parked. Then we drive home.
Deal with it
When the airline goes under while you’re abroad it causes 2 main groups of issues. The first is all the knock-on effects. We luckily didn’t need more accommodation or airport parking (because of the kind man), but needed to splash out on more flights, more sustenance, and an extra day of holiday off work. This causes major inconvenience – and worrying for some – and it all goes on the credit card.
The second issue is when and if you get any of that money back. Even if you’ve taken all precautions with insurance, ATOL, etc. Even though ATOL is built for this exact scenario, they just say to contact the travel agent, who will possibly refund the cheap Flybe flights, but not the expensive repatriation ones. The bank put up a helpful notice, but if you booked via a travel agent they don’t want anything to do with it. The travel insurance are reluctant to pay out, too. So that means most of the moneys won’t come back, despite having taken all the precautions to get all the protections, meaning I paid for almost 2 holidays.
There’s not much to suggest in the way of advice, but bear in mind when travelling that your airline might go into administration if you fly anywhere, and if it does you’ll be left all on your own to deal with the consequences.