✅ Trip Verified
| Southend to Catania. A few miles from destination the pilot announced that we could not land to Catania due to Etna eruption and instead we would land in Malta. There are at the least 5 airports nearby Catania (Palermo, Comiso, Trapani, Reggio Calabria, Lamezia Terme). Soon after the captain announced that we would land to Comiso (Sicily) but his lack of experience did not allow him to fight against the winds so he headed to Malta. As soon as we spoke with the Luqa airport Air Malta ground staff and the Info kiosk staff we realized that we would not have any chance to spend our Christmas with our families. Air Malta staff appeared unaware of our redirected flight and was unable to answer our requests for assistance. Malta is connected regularly via ferries and speedy boats to Sicily but the Air Malta staff told us that there would have been an announcement in 20 minutes time. Twenty minutes passed and so 40 and so 1 hour and the staff from the help desk was abandoning their seats till when there was no staff at the front office. Passengers were worried, and we started asking for bottles of water and lunch voucher but they kept saying there would be an announcement in a minutes. We could have been transferred to Sicily by ferry boat or speedy boats but instead Air Malta spending time agreeing a strategy: useless to contact them by phone as the operators were keeping saying that the number was only for reservations. After 5 hours standing up, without drinking nor eating the staff told us to move at the check in desk for the flight to Rome that would land in Catania first. We moved at the check-in desk but the staff at the desk was unaware that would land to Catania and denied us to check in. After other 45 minutes standing up in front of the desk the first passenger received the boarding pass. The flight was planned for 19:00 but I received my boarding pass at around 19:45. The flight was already in extreme delay and the crew was going back and forth counting the passengers on the flight delaying even more the departure. We would have already been in Catania if the flight would have departed on time but Catania Airport shut down again at 9.30 pm. The captain went out from the cabin and called the police to force us to leave the airplane. The situation was unreal: children crying, an adult having a crisis that required the assistance of a doctor, the police shouting against frustrated passengers stressing them even more until when they started forcedly removing our hand luggage. At that point we had no option than return to the terminal. After 3 hours we received our first and only light meal for the Costa Coffee and a hotel accomodation. Nobody wanted to get stuck in Sliema because of lack of transportation (it has not been offered to us) on Christmas day so the majority decided to sleep on the ground or in the seats of the Costa Coffee in the airport. At 5 am we queued at the check-in, we received our boarding pass and we arrived in Comiso at around 8.30 am on Christmas day; from Comiso a shuttle bus brought us to Catania airport, were our parents were waiting for us. We arrived at destination with more than 20 hours delay, we stood up on our feet for more than 8 hours, we did drink for more than 5 hours, we did not eat for more than 9 hours, we will never trust Air Malta again.