British Airways passengers stranded overnight in Venice

140 London-bound passengers were forced to overnight in Venice last night because crew on their British Airways flight had exceeded their maximum hours.

Strict aviation laws determine the exact number of hours that pilots and cabin crew can work; once those limits have been reached, crew are unable to operate flights, regardless of the consequences. The result, some 140 passengers spent the night sleeping on the floor at Venice Marco Polo airport as British Airways was unable to find any available accommodation nearby.

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The flight has been scheduled to depart Venice at 22:30 local time but wad delayed due to a technical fault.  The ongoing delay meant that the crew then reached the end of their allowed working day although the pilots were able to fly the aircraft back to the UK.

Responding to the incident, British Airways released the following statement:

“We’re very sorry for the disruption faced by our customers and will work with them to provide compensation. We always do everything we can to avoid an overnight flight delay, but when this happens we offer hotel accommodation to those travelling with us. Unfortunately, due to the volume of visitors to Venice we could not secure any rooms for our customers or cabin crew. The aircraft due to operate the flight to Gatwick was delayed into Venice because of a technical fault earlier in the day. Unfortunately this meant that the cabin crew responsible for the safety of our customers had exceeded their available working hours, and were unable to operate the flight back to London. The two pilots were still within their hours and returned the aircraft to London. We have sent a replacement aircraft to Venice this morning to carry those affected customers back to Gatwick.”

This incident closely follows last week’s drama when a British Airways flight bound for Oslo had to return to Heathrow for an emergency landing after one of its engines caught fire. The resulting closure of the runway led to numerous flight delays and cancellations which British Airways has already said it will not compensate passengers for. Certainly a week the airline will want to forget.

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