Early on Friday 12 September 2008 morning at about quarter past midnight a friend who works at Belfast International Airport sent me a text message informing me that another airline had went bust, this time XL.
I quickly realised this was the company who my mum and step dad were on holiday with. They had left over a week earlier for a Caribbean Cruise and were due to dock in Florida on Saturday 13 September to then spend a week in Florida before returning home on Friday 19 September 2008.
I quickly tried to research whether they would have somewhere to stay in Florida and be able to fly back but was confronted with loads of mixed messages.
Whilst getting ready for work on Friday morning I sent an exasperated text message to BBC Radio Ulster’s Good Morning Ulster programme commenting “Looks like XL have excelled in causing misery and chaos My mum & dad are stranded in the USA What an awful end to a holiday Andrew Bangor”. Within twenty minutes I was on air talking about the situation.
You can listen to my interview at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuGcBKHWol8
I also spoke on Citybeat and appeared in the Newsletter concerning my parents predicament.
As an update I can inform people that the hotel has allowed them to remain in Florida for the remaining week of their holiday and the Civil Aviation Authority are organising their return flight to the UK later this week. Some of their tickets to Theme Parks purchased via XL haven’t however been accepted.
As I stated on the radio people go on holiday to relax and enjoy a hassle free break not to worry about how to get home.
With more airlines and holiday companies likely to go bankrupt in the next few months it’s about time government reviewed the arrangements that are in place if companies go into administration. Arrangements should be simplified so that everyone is given the same support, regardless as to whether they booked with a credit or debit card or through ABTA bonded companies.
Sunday 14 September 2008