A Juventus-sanctioned youth football team in Newton Abbot have been left potentially stranded in Italy after their flight from Milan, where the team are due to appear for an international tournament, was unexpectedly cancelled.
The 80-strong Juventus Academy Devon squad were due to fly from Milan Malpensa airport at 10 p.m. on Saturday June 18, arriving in London around 50 minutes later before boarding a coach to bring them back in Devon.
However, to the surprise of coach Sam Driscoll, the flights were changed at 7am the following morning without any warning. “I only found out because one of the kids’ parents wanted to add some checked baggage, and all of a sudden he said the flight was the next morning,” Sam explained.
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This would mean that the seventy boys and girls aged 11 to 14 who make up the team would have to wait at the airport overnight, despite their booking being made months in advance and one of the first on the flight.
Sam contacted EasyJet, but had little luck getting an explanation or help from the airline.
“They didn’t seem to want to help, it was all automated email and Twitter responses,” he added.
Eventually he managed to reach someone on the phone, but could not come to a proper conclusion. According to Sam, the alternatives offered included splitting the 70 children onto multiple flights at different times.
Sam said: “They wanted to spread us out on several flights throughout Sunday and Monday, sending 11 year olds on a flight alone and then waiting maybe 48 hours until the rest of the group was gone. there,” Sam said.
EasyJet has now offered Sam and the rest of the team a 10pm flight home on Sunday evening, meaning the children will miss a day of school as they won’t be back in Devon until 6am morning on Monday morning.
It also means that Sam has had to rearrange the return coaches and will have to pay for overnight accommodation and other expenses on Saturday out of his own pocket.
In response to the situation, an easyJet spokesperson said: “We are sorry that this group’s flight from Milan to Gatwick on June 18 has been cancelled. Our client team is currently discussing their options with them, including finding flights on other airlines to get them out of the tournament in time. We are truly sorry for any inconvenience caused.
Despite this, Sam confirmed that even new Sunday night flights regularly show up as cancelled. This coincides with news that over the weekend easyJet confirmed it would preemptively cancel flights to ease pressure on its fleet and staff.
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