Thousands Stranded at Lisbon Airport After Fuel Pumps Break Down
Thousands of travelers have been stranded in the Lisbon airport (LIS) after a fuel pump broke down on Wednesday. Some passengers were left waiting for over 24 hours, with flights canceled or delayed on the tarmac for hours.
TAP Portugal said all 14 of its planes in Lisbon were grounded at the airport with many flights canceled. Airlines started diverting planes into nearby airports. Eurowings, easyJet and Ryanair flights have also been affected, with many canceled or massively delayed.
The airport's underground fuel system suffered a glitch that completely shut off operations, meaning no planes were able to refuel.
Inbound flights to Lisbon were also delayed or canceled, with some passengers from London Gatwick having to stay on the plane for hours.
Reports showed hordes of people waiting in a small and crowded terminal:
Passengers voiced their frustrations on Twitter, complaining about a lack of communication from the airlines and no food or water for the helpless travelers.
Planes were forced to land at nearby airports to refuel, then continue on to Lisbon to pick up travelers.
Although it's unclear whether or not the fuel pump has been fixed, it seems that some flights are starting to depart. The airport's Facebook page said that operations should be fully restored at some point Thursday, but that passengers should check the airport's website for flight status information.
Because affected flights were leaving from a country in the European Union, passengers are protected by special laws for flight delays. According to Cecilia Minges, Global PR Manager at AirHelp, European law EC261 could force airlines to compensate travelers $250 to $600 depending on their destination, distance of the flight and the length of the delay.
Airlines can be exempt from offering compensation if something beyond their control happens, but Minges says: "Generally, if your flight’s delayed or canceled, the airline should provide you meals, refreshments and access to phone calls and emails, but it’s also worth holding on to any documents you’re given related to the disruption and keeping all of your receipts – you may be able to claim back on any reasonable expenses as well."
It's not yet settled whether the airlines are at fault for the airport's defective fuel pump. AirHelp created a useful chart for those who have experience flight delays in the EU:
H/T: Daily Mail
Featured Image courtesy of @Mariamestre via Twitter.