Airline investigates breakdown in communication over cancelled flights

Flybe and Serco have both been criticised over their customer care after fog in Sumburgh forced flights to be cancelled.

Some flights which set off for Shetland landed in Orkney and went no further.

Air passengers then endured an uncomfortable night on the North Boat after being left by the flight operator in Kirkwall on Sunday.

Complaints have been sent to Flybe, who are now processing the feedback from disgruntled passengers.

Susan Bowie, of Hillswick, was travelling home from Glasgow when she became caught up in the nightmare journey.

She says elderly passengers were left in the dark about which alternative flights might be available from other airports.

She was even warned off by “snippy” ground staff from Menzies Aviation who threatened to throw her off the flight after she suggested the plane should land at Scatsta.

“Most folk were cancelled and offered refunds, and sent on their way with no flights booked and none available until Thursday, although two poor passengers had been travelling for hours.

“[They did not bother] to tell a passenger who had travelled by plane from Canada that she could get a boat from Aberdeen the next day, or plane from Inverness, Aberdeen or Edinburgh. They just told her she couldn’t get a plane from Glasgow until Thursday or Friday, and sent her away.”

She said no extra planes were made available to deal with the backlog. Similar problems were experienced by air passengers flying from Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

Dr Bowie said many passengers opted to take the plane, knowing they would most likely have to land in Kirkwall and then travel overnight on the boat.

“But the staff couldn’t help with a berth, or a reclining seat and they couldn’t help us with transport to get our cars.

“The last time I met ground staff like that was Aeroflot in Moscow circa 1986.”

Dr Bowie said cabin staff “couldn’t have been more helpful”.

Passengers were offered a meal at the Ayre Hotel in Orkney and bused to the boat, where they were handed vouchers for breakfast.

“We were then at the mercy of Serco, who treated us as second class citizens. Most of us had no hope of a reclining seat.

“They have put dividers on the seats to stop any passengers like us without cabins or recliners lying down.”

There were added problems at breakfast time, as the vouchers that had been provided the previous night failed to cover the full cost of a breakfast on the boat.

“As passengers we helped look after the over 80s, and developed a camaraderie in adversity.

“However no one in authority in ether the boat, Serco, Loganair or Flybe made any attempts to help these very elderly, which is just not good enough.”

Loganair say they are now investigating a breakdown in communications.

More on this story in Friday’s Shetland Times.


Add Your Comment
  • Tom? Whittle

    • May 22nd, 2013 10:10

    It wasn’t much better at Sumburgh ether. I was booked on the noon flight to Edinburgh. The flight Staff were trying there best to force me on to the boat with no onward travel. After trying to get on the Glasgow flight instead as the plane was in, I was told it was Aberdeen on the boat or next Edinburgh flight. After the next Flight was cancelled i rebooked for the second to the noon again.

    This Flight was delayed for over 5 hours. Called to the check-in desk for no reason. Tried to get on the afternoon flight but was told connecting passengers took priority then we will change it for you. In the end it they gave the seats to a couple.

    The communication was very poor after 12pm when if you wanted information you had to go to the very busy check in desks.


  • Stuart Terris

    • May 22nd, 2013 11:00

    A couple of weeks ago, my flight from Aberdeen to Sumburgh couldn’t land due to fog. I must say that Serco were very helpful considering the 150-200 extra foot passengers that they had to process in a HURRY.

    It seemed that passengers travelling on there own were giving sleeping pods and passengers in groups were given cabins. Yes the breakfast voucher was only £5 but it was enough for a bacon roll and drink. Once in Lerwick, Serco ground staff organised taxi’s for people to collect their cars from Sumburgh.

    It appeared that both passengers and Serco were at the mercy of flybe. Flybe could have made it much easier for Serco by providing the list of passengers whilst we ate at the Ayre hotel. I also agree that a Flybe representive should have been with the passengers until they boarded the ferry and then another Flybe rep should have been waiting for passengers in Lerwick.

    Obviously, if the boat is busy and the cabins are fully booked, then the extra flybe passengers won’t be getting sleeping pods or cabins.

    I have to say thanks to Serco for their hard work when they rescued us a couple of weeks ago.

  • Martyn Fisher

    • May 22nd, 2013 23:23


  • Jack Sparrow

    • May 24th, 2013 21:35

    I would like to take this opportunity to remind my fellow Shetlanders that we live on an island with unpredictable weather conditions. As such we are, and should be, prepared to be inconvenienced in travel.

    Did anyone stop to consider that when an aircraft does not fly for whatever reason, all staff work twice as hard as at any other time in their job. When a woman, with no aviation knowledge what so ever, stands up and prepares to aggravate the crowds (who are already on edge due disruptive circumstances) then staff must react accordingly. Remember we live in an era when the aviation industry is under continuous attack, and as such, this behaviour is irresponsible.

    “Scatsta was in bright sunshine!” “When I brought this to the snippy ground staff’s attention in Glasgow, she threatened to call security and have me thrown of the flight for speaking out of turn by letting the other passengers know.” (facebook post by Susan Bowie).

    Remember Glasgow was bombed previously! Today an aircraft had to divert to Stansted, the list goes on!

    Scatsta is closed on a Sunday. This is common knowledge in Shetland.

    Please Mrs Bowie, stick to what you know and do not try to be too clever in an industry that you are not qualified in. You may be considered a security risk….

  • JohnTulloch, Arrochar

    • May 25th, 2013 13:52

    Jack Sparrow, bustling indignantly in his corsets, rebukes Dr Bowie for having the effrontery to suggest landing at Scatsta where it was a fine day and warns.her that she “may be considered a security risk………”

    I assume the row of dots is designed to instil fear – of what in our democratic, free-speech country?

  • John Kryton

    • May 25th, 2013 16:48

    Avast there me hearty Jack Sparrow I have flown into Scatsta on a Flybe flight, I have also flown into Scatsta on a Sunday.

    It would take a right jobsworth to declare Susan Bowie and a pair of octogenarian’s a security risk. Or maybe a pirate suffering from the curse of the Black Pearl.

    Susan Bowie was so right to complain, to few people do these days and we are at the mercy of jobsworths and pirate companies who would rip us off at the drop of a pirates hat.

    By the way if you had used your real name it may have had added credence to your comment, yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.


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