During the UK air traffic control mayhem last week, hundreds of flights from, to or just passing over the UK were cancelled or severely delayed. One tourist whose flight from Split, Croatia, to London’s Luton Airport got cancelled, decided to take the train and bus instead of waiting for the next available flight, which led him to a 63-hour adventure through Europe.
Jack Reeve and his girlfriend were supposed to depart Split on an easyJet flight around 10 pm on Monday, 28 August, heading back home to Norwich. They were notified that their flight was cancelled only 3 hours before departure, with the next flight only being available on Sunday, 3 September. So the couple took the decision to travel back to Norwich by land.
We made the decision on Tuesday morning to go back via coach and train as that was the only way we could do it and that we deemed feasible.Jack Reeve
“The other problem was there’s been really bad storms across Europe, which has created landslides on a lot of the train tracks. Lots of the trains were on coach replacement throughout Germany and Austria – everything was against us”, Reeve told PA news agency.
The two took a bus from Split to Zagreb, from where they were supposed to take a train to Stuttgart, Austria. However, once in Zagreb, they found that, due to storms causing landslides across the tracks, the journey was partly replaced by another coach. “After trundling through Slovenia on what can only be described as an ex Norwich-GY train from the 80’s due to issues created because of storms, I’m finally on a proper train ripping towards Germany”, Reeve shared on X / Twitter.
The couple made it to Paris on Wednesday evening and took the Eurostar to London the following morning. From there, they had to take another train to Luton Airport, where Reeve’s car was parked. To his relief, the “lovely lady” at the airport waved his car parked fees, sparking him the additional expense.
It was really unsettling…It was the uncertainty that was really difficult.Jack Reeve
The couple made it to Norwich on Thursday afternoon, after 63 hours of travelling and an estimated £2,000 (~ €2,340) additional travel costs. So far, Reeve has not heard anything from either Tui, the agency they had booked their holiday with, or easyJet, regarding reimbursement for their additional costs.
He has described the whole experience as “nerve wracking”, since many of the train changes were tight enough for them to worry about being able to catch the next train or not. “All of the changeovers were really tight and there was a possibility we might get stuck in Stuttgart”, he explained.
Despite the struggles, the two tried to enjoy their trip and appreciate the advantages of travelling by train instead of plane. “Some of the parts were beautiful through Austria into Germany and into France, some of it was really stunning. That was the positive as we would have never seen that if had flown”, Reeve said.
Additionally, their journey was made easier by Reeve’s X / Twitter followers who “kept [him] company on these long evening night buses that were quite sketchy, so it was more of a companionship thing more than anything”.