Still stranded due to volanic ash?

Got back from Gran Canaria via a "creative route" - after I initially found the only web option available to me after my flight EI783 on 11th May was cancelled was the 18th May, I figured out it was worth checking out other options.

Initially I checked out Ryanair and Easyjet - one had availablity to Dublin and the other to the UK but at an eyewatering 270 euros. So I though - why not check out Thomson - and discovered I could get to Belfast for just 140 euros. I then got a bus into Belfast and another bus to Dublin airport (cost around 25-30 euros). But had I not had the benefit of internet service at my hotel, I'd have been screwed.

My flight was due to leave at 19:40 on Tuesday but I only got info from Aer Lingus at 14:00. Now bear in mind most people would already have checked out of their hotels. I had to book another night in the hotel costing me 43 euros (rather fortunate as I am sure other places were not so cheap considering its one of the better places in PDI). Their phones were completely backlogged so I wasted 20 minutes and at least 6 euros in change until I just ran out of change. So then I waited.

My text said I could "transfer" flights at 15:00. Now this turned out to be bullshit. Prior to 15:00 there was availability only on the Saturday 15th flight - but at a price. By the time 15:00 came around there was NOTHING but 18th May - an eye watering 7 day delay which I think is what most passengers have been stuck with. But after I'd booked the Thomson flight I thought to myself - why not try again - this time got through to AL - and miraculously found myself with the "last seat" for Thursday!

Now my questions are this?
Why was this option not available to me online?
Why were customers only offered seats 7 days after their initial cancellation when there was likely for additional capacity to become available?
Why was there no information beyond this offered with account to compensation for accomodation considering people were being delayed for a full week?
And why was information completely different if you phoned rather than went online?

Now Ryanair were not a lot better - but at least they threw on some extra flights. But Aer Lingus hardly bothered their holes for the 180 or so bumped off on Tuesday.

7 days delay really isn't an option for many travelling, and I suspect they cynically exploited that fact in the hope that some would cancel outright and use other carriers rather than take responsibility and add extra capacity.

My friends booked on the same flight had equal frustration - and simply couldn't get anything earlier than 7 days after the cancellation, but I got the last laugh in the end. I called up AL today to chance my arm and see could I get the flight cancelled - it was 5 hours to departure so worth a shot. Well I asked would it be possible to now cancel? Yes it was. Could I get a refund? Yes I could, since my original flight was cancelled. So now at least I have recouped about 100 of the 200 euros I initially had to fork out. However it would be so much simpler if AL were upfront and honest about accomodation compensation and let customers just enjoy their extra few days instead of having to worry about when they get back and what they do in the meantime.

My advice for anybody still stuck is repeatedly phone Aer Lingus and ask to be put on an earlier flight. If you do find another option demand a refund, even if they have already rebooked you onto a later flight. Don't put up with that kinda crap and let other airlines pick up the business.


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