Short Flight Becomes 33-Hour Ordeal

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

When air travel goes bad, it can really go bad.

A British retiree found that out when he booked a simple 3.5-hour holiday flight from LHR to ATH. The short jaunt turned into a 4-plane, 33-hour ordeal.

In a colourful account in London’s Evening Standard, retiree Geoff Lye said he was supposed to board his BA flight from early on Tuesday afternoon last week. It was cancelled because of a faulty cockpit light and rescheduled for 5pm that evening.

By the time the flight was ready to take off, however, the crew had run out of hours, so that flight was also cancelled.

Lye said BA paid for passengers to spend the night at a hotel. The airline rescheduled the flight for the next day. He breathed a sigh of relief as the plane took off and all was well – until passengers heard several loud bangs and the starboard engine caught fire.

Lye described the experience as a nightmare.

“I’m an atheist but even I was praying,” he told the Evening Standard. “Our hearts were racing. Passengers behind me said they could see flames kicking out from the engine.”

A fourth flight took off Wednesday evening, and relieved passengers finally reached Athens in the early hours of Thursday.

The entire odyssey to get to Greece took 33 hours, almost 10 times the normal flight time.

No one would blame Mr. Lye if he checked out bus schedules for his return.

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