A Vueling Airlines flight to Florence took off ’empty’ from Gatwick Airport due to staff shortages, which prevented customers from arriving at the gate on time.
Vueling flight VY6209’s pilots waited more than two hours after the intended departure time before deciding to leave all of the passengers behind in order to get in Florence before air traffic restrictions were imposed.
Vueling’s Airbus A319 aircraft, according to Aerolopa, had a total passenger capacity of 144 in an all-economy configuration. Passengers on the aircraft slammed the Barcelona-based airline for leaving them behind due to staffing shortages at the West Sussex airport.
The flight was supposed to leave at 8:20 a.m. on Monday, but it didn’t take off until after 10:30 p.m. The 15-year-old plane arrived in Florence at 1:12 a.m., but it didn’t fly again until Tuesday afternoon when it returned to Gatwick Airport in London.
Nisha Gupta, 32, was scheduled to fly on VY6209 on Monday, but she told the PA news agency that she had to wait four hours at the Vueling kiosk only to check in her luggage.
When Nisha arrived at the boarding gate, she was informed that there was insufficient staff to board them on the airplane quickly enough and that the pilots had decided to leave without them all.
Only three Vueling employees appeared to be working the entire time Nisha was at the airport, according to Nisha.
Danny Lee took to Twitter on Tuesday evening to complain about long lines at the Vueling counter for the second day in a row. Danny slammed Vueling, pledging to “never fly with them again.”
Gatwick, like many other European airports, has had intermittent staff shortages. Some of the shortages are due to the airline industry’s inability to quickly employ staff to meet passenger demand, while COVID-related absences have added to the burden.
Staff shortages caused travel havoc for easyJet passengers at Gatwick last week, but the airline is now canceling dozens of flights per day to alleviate the load.
Some European airports, such as Amsterdam Schipol and Dublin, are having trouble finding enough security personnel to meet demand, and the disruption is expected to go well into the summer.