Terrible experience (Elsbeth Johnson & Harold Massie)

The Flybe flight from Edinburgh to Sumburgh (BE6995) on a recent Saturday was scheduled to take off from Edinburgh at 3pm and due to land into Sumburgh at 4.25pm that day.

We eventually landed at Sumburgh at around 1pm the following day after a series of problems brought on by Flybe’s poor management of their staff and sub-contractors. Three aspects of that flight are now the subject of a letter of complaint sent to Flybe by ourselves and six other Shetland passengers.

First, the relationship with Menzies, the Edinburgh ground agent. As passengers, we waited for an hour on the ground, sitting in our seats with the door open (so the plane was cold) while Menzies and the pilots tried to sort out the paperwork to allow the flight to take off.

We don’t know what the problem was, but we would note that none of the other carriers that we fly on out of Edinburgh (for example, British Airways) have ever had such a problem. We have asked Flybe to explain their relationship with

Menzies and how they are managing this to improve the passenger experience.

This delay cost us the first hour of our journey. We had then to wait for the Menzies ground crew to return, they had been sent to dispatch another aircraft, before we could start up. It was at this point that the pilot noticed that the navigation equipment on the plane we were on was not working.

This was the second reason for our poor Flybe experience – old planes, probably under-maintained which often suffer mechanical faults. Again, as frequent flyers, we can only contrast Flybe planes (and the frequency of faults on them) with those of other carriers; and they do not do well in that comparison.

The pilot told us what the problem was and said they were trying to find another plane which we might be able to get on and which might be able to take off, depending on ATC scheduling. We cannot fault the pilot or co-pilot, who seemed to be doing all they could to get us on another plane that afternoon.

A second aircraft was found and we taxied all the way across Edinburgh airport to park beside it. We were transferred to the second plane which, it was immediately clear, was not ready for service.

This was the third issue that contributed to our miserable Flybe experience: the state of this particular replacement aircraft. For example, there were no hot drinks available as no urns were taken aboard. Even worse, the toilet had not been cleaned since the previous flight.

Given that we spent almost four hours on this particular (unprepared) aircraft – finally taking off from Edinburgh, flying up to and circling over Sumburgh for an hour and then returning to Edinburgh at 8.30pm – nearly all the passengers had needed to use the toilet. It was disgusting and the smell was pervading the whole cabin. We have asked Flybe to explain why was this replacement aircraft not properly ready for flight and why were we subjected to such terrible conditions.

We have also pointed out that the age and functionality of the fleet also means that the customer experience is compromised. For example, we were told that we could not use mobile phones on the plane when it was standing, motionless with the engines idle, on the ground at Edinburgh. We could not alert family and friends waiting in Shetland to the delay. Other airlines, with newer fleets, allow mobile phone use while on the ground.

The complaint has gone to Flybe; it is for them to answer and to compensate all of the passengers on that flight. All too often we see these issues deflected on to Loganair. However, it is Flybe we pay and whom we contract with to supply the service. It is their responsibility to manage the service and to ensure that passengers get the service they are paying for.

Harold Massie and Elsbeth Johnson on behalf of six other Shetland passengers.

Elsbeth Johnson
c/o Meadowside,

Harold Massie
South Ustaness,
South Whiteness.


Add Your Comment
  • Brian Hill

    • September 13th, 2016 11:52

    That’s a pity you had such a poor experience on your recent Flybe flight. For your information, and on the matter of where to direct a claim for compensation, I thought I would mention my experience earlier this year. I was returning to Sumburgh from Edinburgh on 5 April 2016 on Flybe BE6995, departing at 1.45pm. Although that took off, it soon returned to Edinburgh airport apparently due to a fire alarm being activated in the hold area. Eventually we boarded a replacement airplane around 8pm (though it seemed to take about an hour while we sat on that plane for our luggage to be put on by the ground staff) and we arrived at 10pm in Sumburgh. I directed a claim for compensation (under EC regulation 261/2004) initially to Flybe. Flybe passed that on to Loganair (customerrelations@loganair.co.uk) who were quick to accept that €250 compensation was payable under the EC reg (then worth nearly £200), and which Loganair quickly paid.

  • Fiona Mair

    • September 13th, 2016 14:14

    Good luck with this, as a frequent Fly(maybe) traveller I have written several complaint letters involving similiar matters as your content. Sadly all to no avail, get passed to Loganair who write nice “substance deplete lipservice” reply but nil from Flybe itself! I have cc’d Tavish Scott didnt get any reply there either????

  • David Spence

    • September 14th, 2016 13:30

    ‘ €250 compensation was payable under the EC reg (then worth nearly £200), and which Loganair quickly paid.’

    No doubt, after Brexit, such claims will no longer be available?

    It will be also interesting to know/find out what other rights related to compensation or civil/customer rights will be abolished when the UK, eventually leaves the EU. This also would incorporate The European Human Rights Act as well, which I am pretty sure the UK (Brexit) will be more than pleased to get rid off.

    Welcome to the slave nation of Europe, where workers rights equal zero (certainly after the Conservatives take on TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) with the USA)).

  • Sheenagh M Burns

    • September 14th, 2016 18:40

    I live in Shetland and have more or less given up expecting any Flymaybe plane to either arrive at or leave Sumburgh on time. It hasn’t happened any time I have flown with them in the past 3 years or so.

  • Graham Longstaff

    • October 4th, 2016 16:19

    From recent experience, both FlyBe and EasyJet can be considered 4th world in providing customer service and decent flying machines. (SleasyJet now after the recent farce). Both my partner and I planned and booked a dream holiday to South Africa leaving the UK 15th of September 2016. Easy/SleasyJet was booked for flights to and from Aberdeen to Gatwick, with a nights stopover there, before flying via Turkey to South Africa on Friday 15th. Once at Aberdeen the evening of the 14th at the check in, were informed the flight was delayed for 1.40 minutes, due to fog. We checked in and waited at the departures. No announcement, no SleasyJet staff to inform, just a change of departure board, cancelling the flight! SleasyJet staff neither offered anyone drinks, meal vouchers, help of any sort, apart from stupid smiles and indifference. It resulted in our having to hire a car at inflated prices (£189.00 for one night), over £60 for fuel, the loss and payment of the booked room at the Airport Inn Gatwick and yet still to be recompensed for the cancelled flight. All of this extra cost came out of holiday money we had earmarked for the holiday! So, between Flybe and SleasyJet, they make the worst promoters of travel in the UK.


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