A family had a “nightmare” trip home after their flight back to Gatwick was cancelled at short notice.

Evangeline Loizou and her family were travelling back from Naples after being there for her mum’s wedding on Monday, September 25.

Their flight from Gatwick on Thursday, September 21 went smoothly. 

But the group, including her elderly grandparents, had their return flight cancelled at short notice.

The Argus: Evangeline Loizou, her partner Davis John and her cousins Louka and Christo Patatsou at Zurich AirportEvangeline Loizou, her partner Davis John and her cousins Louka and Christo Patatsou at Zurich Airport (Image: Evangeline Loizou)

“There were nine of us including my brother and his family, my cousins and grandparents,” said 23-year-old Evangeline.

“The app was useless for sorting a new flight because it was a group booking, but every time I called the helpline they would hang up.

“I remembered the special assistance helpline as my grandparents needed some help getting onto the plane, but even they said there were no flights.

“We were just left to fend for ourselves. It was a nightmare.”

The Argus:

Evangeline and her brother had to sort their own flights back to London as they had to return to work on Wednesday. The only flight they could book was on Tuesday, meaning they had to stay an extra night in Naples.

Evangeline said: “The hotel was awful but it was all we could find at such short notice.”

The Argus: The view from the hotel they had to book at short notice in NaplesThe view from the hotel they had to book at short notice in Naples (Image: Evangeline Loizou)

The hotel put Evangeline and her family on the smoking floor which “stank” and had tar and damp on the walls.

Evangeline said she was worried for her three-year-old niece and four-month-old nephew as well as her grandparents who had to stay the night there.  

“We then had to fly to Zurich and change flights to get to Heathrow,” said Evangeline.

“It was a real ordeal and we live in Croydon so Gatwick is much easier to get home from.”

Evangeline and her family are awaiting a refund for their alternative flights and EasyJet said they are in contact with the group.

A spokesman for EasyJet said: “National Air Traffic Services (Nats) air traffic control staffing shortages at Gatwick on Monday led to a significantly reduced flow rate being imposed on all airlines meaning flights to and from Gatwick Airport were subject to disruption and we were asked not to operate some flights to and from the airport including EZY8342 from Naples.

“We are extremely disappointed that customers are once again being impacted by this and while this is outside of our control, we are sorry for the inconvenience caused to our customers.

“We did all possible to minimise the impact of the disruption and notified those on the flight via email, SMS and on Flight Tracker of their options to rebook or receive a refund and are provided hotel accommodation and meals where required.”

The Argus: A flight cap was introduced on MondayA flight cap was introduced on Monday (Image: PA)

A spokesman for Nats said: “We have worked very closely with Gatwick airport throughout.

“We have trained as many air traffic controllers as possible this year in the Gatwick tower and have safely managed over 180,000 flights so far.

“With 30 per cent of tower staff unavailable for a variety of medical reasons including Covid, we cannot manage the number of flights that were originally planned for this week."

The Nats flight cap is in place at Gatwick until Sunday, October 1.