Juventus Academy Devon players were due to fly to Italy to play other youth teams around the world, only to have easyJet knock them out of the second leg
Image: Sam Driscoll)
Dozens of young footballers are at risk of missing the biggest tournament of their lives after easyJet whisked them off their flight.
Coach Sam Driscoll was looking forward to flying to Italy with his players from Juventus Academy Devon in mid-June.
The group of 87 were due to face other promising young footballers aged 11-14 from around the world in the inaugural outing of a youth tournament hosted by the super club.
Sam’s excitement turned to despair when an accompanying parent discovered, by chance, that there was a problem with their flight.
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Without telling any member of the group, easyJet had taken the team off duty on the evening of Saturday June 18 and split them between two morning flights – scheduled before the team’s games.
Before the flight was finally cancelled, tickets for three times the price paid by Sam and the children were available for the original flight.
After many frustrating and frustrating emails and calls, the 25-year-old was told he could fly the next day instead, meaning the kids would miss school and their parents would have to shell out for a night in a hotel.
Sam is unsure what to do as the original tickets cost £100 return when he bought them in February, while suitable alternative flights now cost £300 or more.
“It’s absolutely crazy,” Sam, who also works as a special education teacher, told the Mirror.
“It’s an amazing opportunity. It’s a World Cup. The kids are extremely excited. Now I have to tell them this is all happening.
“I am responsible for all the children on the trip. One flight is at 7.20am, the other at 11.50am. There are four hours in between.
“They expect me to have 11-year-olds waiting for me at Gatwick airport.
“If we came back on Sunday, the children would miss school on Monday because we would be home very late. We would be back at 6 a.m. on Monday morning.
“I tried to call but you can only talk about reservations not complaints. There is no way to complain.
“We may have to cancel the trip. We will not be flying easyJet in the future.”
An easyJet spokesperson said: “We are sorry that this group’s flight from Milan to Gatwick on June 18 has been cancelled.
“Our client team are currently discussing their options with them, including considering flights on other airlines to get them to the tournament on time.
“We are truly sorry for any inconvenience caused.”
EasyJet customers have found themselves frustrated before and after trips in recent weeks.
A computer glitch led the low-cost airline to cancel hundreds of flights yesterday, with more than a dozen more grounded this morning.
Long queues formed at Gatwick Airport as passengers waited up to two hours to check in with easyJet.
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