Were 140 Passengers “Abandoned” by Airline at Airport?

Sleeping in a hotel room with a view of the Rialto Bridge is certainly far superior than sleeping on the floor of Marco Polo Airport in Venice with limited provisions. Photograph by FlyerTalk member dosto. Click on the photograph for additional photographs by dosto and other FlyerTalk members pertaining to views from their hotel rooms.

Due to…
  • Mechanical issues with the Boeing 737 aircraft operated by British Airways bound for Gatwick Airport near London
  • The cabin crew having worked the maximum amount of hours, and
  • Supposedly no available hotel rooms nearby

…approximately 140 passengers were stranded at Marco Polo Airport near Venice with no food or beverages for 14 hours — although it is doubtful that anyone was actually able to sleep on the floor, considering the conditions described as “absolute chaos” and the fact that their baggage was reportedly inaccessible because it was locked up.
The aircraft was flown to Gatwick Airport without its passengers, as the pilots had supposedly not worked the maximum amount of hours. Members of the flight crew were reportedly stranded along with the passengers, who were reportedly given food vouchers — but the shops and restaurants were closed except for one café, which stayed open late — and the passengers were supposedly not allowed to leave, as the airport was locked up, resembling a “ghost town.”
British Airways has apologized for this incident, indicating that the passengers — who eventually were flown to London on a replacement airplane — will receive compensation.
Were the passengers wrongfully imprisoned against their will at the airport? What sort of compensation is due to them? Should the passengers consider legal action? FlyerTalk members discuss these issues, as well as express reaction upon learning of this incident with comments such as “very poor”, “bizarre”, “baffling” and “disgraceful.”
Apparently, this is not the first time this has happened, as per the personal experience of FlyerTalk member Northanstar:

“I experienced the same delay on the same flight with BA last Summer out of Venice. We were totally abandoned by BA without a word of explanation or apology and complete lack of information provided to passengers was appalling.
“BA eventually coughed up EU compensation but only after a lengthy battle and some fairly heated email to customer services. I also rec’d 20,000 Avios points which I’m sill to use….”

Another personal experience was posted by FlyerTalk member xmassheep:

“I recently had a poor experience at BLQ (13/05)- although fortunately wasn’t abandoned overnight- but I primarily blame the airport contractors as there was no communication for 7 hours, not even to announce the refreshments voucher they gave out (I saw other pax walking off with them so managed to get one for myself). I took matters into my own hands and called the silver line after 5 hours and got one of the last seats on the later flight, and was lucky enough to speak to a helpful lady who phoned me back to tell me my original flight was cancelled well before it was finally announced.
“I felt very sorry for those pax who didn’t have access to the silver line and who were trying to find out what was happening from the airport contractors – the only announcement that was made was that people should collect their baggage. This meant the check-in queue for the later flight was even worse than usual as people were trying to find our what was happening. I assume they eventually got to a hotel and back the next day, but I was very relieved not to have to deal with the ground staff any longer.
“I have received my eu261 cheque (and was telling other pax to claim for it) and am waiting for a reply re the phone charges I am asking to be refunded and my complaints about treatment….
“Anyway, long story but given how poor the contractors were at BLQ, I have every sympathy with those stranded in Venice as ground staff just didn’t care and didn’t feel any responsibility. We didn’t see the crew at any point either, so they may not have been able to intervene in Venice.”

What do you think? Is abandoned the appropriate word for what happened to those passengers attempting to fly to London — or is the reporting of this incident possibly more sensational than what actually happened? Is there anything the passengers could have done to have helped themselves? What could British Airways and Marco Polo Airport have done to have prevented this incident from happening in the first place?

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