A journalist who spent more than two days travelling via coach, train and bus from Split in Croatia to Norwich after his flight was cancelled due to a UK air traffic control failure said the experience was “really unsettling”.
Jack Reeve, 25, was due to fly with easyJet back to Luton when we was told three hours before his flight that it had been cancelled.
The journalist, from Norwich, said “everything was against us” after he was unable to book any flights with easyJet and was faced with disrupted train services following a landslide that blocked several tracks across Europe.
Mr Reeve’s next available flight would have been on Sunday, but fearing his flight might be cancelled a second time, he took the decision to travel by land.
He told the PA news agency: “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.
“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.”
He and his girlfriend travelled by coach replacement from Split to Zagreb, across to Villach, Austria, before taking a train from Stuttgart to Paris, where he took the Eurostar to London on Thursday morning, then to Luton to pick up his car back to Norwich.
The couple spent around 63 hours to travel home after leaving Croatia at midnight on Tuesday and arriving in Norwich on Thursday afternoon.
Mr Reeve said travelling by land was “nerve-wracking” particularly as travelling across Europe by train was a new experience.
“I’ve never travelled across Europe by train before,” he said.
“It was nerve wracking because all of the changeovers were really tight and there was a possibility we might get stuck in Stuttgart.”
He estimates that the lengthy journey has set him back nearly £2,000 and was left unimpressed by the lack of support from easyJet and his travel provider, Tui.
He explained: “Tui were of no help, easyJet were absolutely useless.
“We’ve heard nothing from them, so we just had to make a decision because even if we wait for these flights that they’ve offered us on Sunday, what happens if they’re then cancelled?
“Then we’re waiting even more time. There was hardly any accommodation to stay in, so we said ‘let’s just get out of there’.
“It was really unsettling…It was the uncertainty that was really difficult.”
Mr Reeve shared his experience on X/Twitter, documenting his journey across Europe and said his followers “kept him company”.
He said: “Thankfully, I’ve got some nice Twitter followers, so they kept me company on these long evening night buses that were quite sketchy, so it was more of a companionship thing more than anything.”
Despite the lengthy journey home, the couple remained positive throughout the process and revelled in the sights of Europe via train.
“Me and my girlfriend just said if we don’t enjoy this, we are going to really struggle,” he said.
“Some of the parts (of Europe) 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.”
He has since urged others facing travel disruptions to “get creative” with arrangements and “embrace” the experience.
He said: “You’ve got to try and get creative with it because we’ve been let down by our airlines that should be standing by us.
“It’s hard to say when you’re in it, but embrace it and hopefully, when you get back, it’s a story to tell.”