The minutes right before take-off can be hectic for airline staff. Seats need to be cleaned, cabin controls need to be set, passengers need to be boarded, and a final count has to be made, to verify no traveller has been left behind. But for one UK airline, their usual list of duties turned almost impossible, as an unusual challenge faced the staff.
Irish airline provider Ryanair, as reputed for its extremely budget-friendly prices as its operational inefficiency, faced a unique problem on its Stansted to Belfast flight late in May. The flight that was supposed to take off from London Stansted Airport and land at Belfast International faced a delay of 2 hours as flight staff reported difficulties in counting the number of passengers on board.
To fly or not to fly
Passengers of the weekend Ryanair flight from Stansted to Belfast witnessed the development of a somewhat confusing chain of events, as cabin crew members remained flustered over the total number of onboard passengers.
Passengers travelling on the late night flight reported that while the boarding process followed established protocol – with staff collecting boarding passes from travellers and ticking their names off their list – cabin staff remained clueless about the number of passengers onboard.
According to sources, the Ryanair flight was already on the tarmac and just minutes away from departure, when cabin crew stopped the flight from taking-off, on suspicions that some passengers had been left behind at the gate. Based on cabin crew reports, there were supposed to be approximately 100 passengers onboard the flight at the time of take-off. Traveller accounts suggest that flight crew believed two people were missing from the list of passengers.
Ground staff were called back, and a recount of the boarding passes was initiated, but this too proved futile. Manual counting was also done, yet the crew was unable to verify the total number of passengers onboard. Passengers stated that at one point, there were more than ten airport officials inside the craft, who checked passenger details to verify headcount.
As confusion escalated, a roll call was initiated by senior cabin crew officials, with staff calling out each name from the list of passengers. After checking travellers’ details three times, cabin crew finally confirmed that all 100 passengers were onboard.
Complete chaos on board
One Ryanair passenger from the Stansted to Belfast airline confirmed that the entire situation inside the aircraft was extremely chaotic and downright uncontrollable. There were also reports of raised voices, threats and frustration from travellers. The flight that was scheduled to take-off from London Stansted Airport at 10:10PM finally departed at 12:30 AM and landed at Belfast International at 1:20 AM, a good two hours after the scheduled arrival time.
Passengers confirmed that while the Ryanair cabin crew apologized for their error and explained the delay compensation claims process, the company remained mute about the entire episode.
The incident has further aggravated Ryanair’s image and customer satisfaction rating; especially given its legacy of unaccountable flight delays and cancellations.