An intensive care nurse who worked through the extreme conditions of the Covid pandemic has spoken of her anger after her family’s dream holiday to Disneyland, their reward after a tough few years, was ruined when their flight was cancelled at the last minute – after they’d arrived at the airport dressed head to toe in Disney gear.
Kelly Matthews had saved up thousands of pounds so she could take her nine-year-old son Noah and her mother Mandy to Paris at the end of May. The trip had already been rescheduled once due to previous travel restrictions, and had been paid for by Kelly as a surprise for her son and a thankyou gift for her mum. You can get the latest WalesOnline newsletters e-mailed to you directly for free by signing up here.
Kelly, from Saundersfoot in Pembrokeshire, is an intensive care nurse at Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen. This holiday, she hoped, was finally an opportunity to spend a bit of time with her family abroad. However, easyJet, who she had booked the flights with, had other ideas.
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“I checked the flight information on the app before we set off for Bristol Airport,” said Kelly, who spent about £2,000 on the holiday in total, which was meant to see the family stay in a hotel near the Disney resort between May 26 and May 29.
“When we got to the airport I then checked the app again. This time it said it had been cancelled, with no reason given. So it was cancelled in the time it took us to get from west Wales to Bristol, and just four hours before it was due to take off. We tried to get on another flight but they were all fully booked; we tried to see if we could get to Paris from a different airport but it just wasn’t possible.”
Kelly, aged 35, has since heard that easyJet cancelled the flight at such short notice due to “crew issues”. But, whatever the reason, her and her family’s holiday dreams were left in tatters, and they had no choice but to drive home despondent to west Wales.
To make matters worse, Disneyland itself will not refund her the cost of the tickets to the park because she did not cancel or reschedule within a 72-hour window, while the Paris accommodation she booked will not refund any money because her and her family’s failure to arrive was not the hotel’s fault. You can read latest updates on the flights disruption here.
Kelly is hopeful that easyJet can at least reimburse her for the flight tickets, and that she can claw back some of the other costs from the ruined trip through her travel insurance. But, even if that claim bears fruit, her son has still been denied his Disney dream.
“I worked hard throughout the pandemic and my mum helped me so much with childcare – I just wanted to say thanks with this trip,” said Kelly. “And Noah was so excited. We were all head-to-toe in Disney stuff at the airport – we had the ears and the T-shirts on and everything! Now I’m fighting just to get my money back; whether I will or not I don’t know.”
Luckily, Kelly and her family were able to enjoy a holiday of sorts as they managed to arrange a last-minute break at the popular Bluestone resort in Pembrokeshire. It wasn’t quite Paris, but it certainly helped lift the mood after that long drive back from Bristol Airport which included being caught up in horrendous traffic near Cardiff caused by one of Ed Sheeran’s Principality Stadium concerts. Read here about the man with a heart condition who ended up stranded in Spain after his flight home was cancelled.
“We were looking forward to taking Noah to Disneyland so much,” said Kelly. “The worst thing is, nobody is taking any responsibility for it, and there was no help from easyJet at all. Even if they refund the flight, I want the holiday that I worked so hard for and it’s been taken away.”
EasyJet has been asked by WalesOnline to comment on the reason behind the cancellation of the flight and to confirm if passengers will be fully refunded. It has not yet responded.