I booked a return flight with easyJet from Gatwick to Ibiza in May. The confirmation email contained a hyperlink to add the details of the flight to the calendar function on my iPhone. It said the flight was due to leave at 6.35am; we turned up at the airport at 5am, only to find that the flight details had been incorrectly imported. The flight was in fact departing at 5.35am and the gate was closed.
EasyJet had not heard of a problem like this before and was unable to help. We managed to find a flight with another carrier later in the day, but at considerable cost.
I contacted Apple and spoke to its most senior level of technical support, who confirmed that the problem lay within the hyperlink sent by easyJet. When I wrote to easyJet it said that its technical department would investigate – but I haven’t heard anything. I then read an article describing how the Apple Calendar app “handles time zones terribly”. RT, Oxford
Apple ignores three requests to comment on your case. Its support page explains that its Calendar app uses the default time zone in the settings of your Apple devices, and you have to turn on time zone support to create events in other time zones.
However, you have had your settings checked and the times you were given make no sense. Your app declared your flight to Ibiza was calculated using GMT+1, which was correct for British summer time, yet the departure time was an hour out.
Since then, you’ve received a calendar invitation for a local yoga class in Oxford that imported at GMT-5. Apple at this point acknowledged a software error but, you say, has failed to get back to you.
It sounds as though easyJet, despite its silence, has realised there is a problem with Calendar. “We previously offered calendar invites to passengers for flights they had booked,” says a spokesperson. “We became aware after launching the feature that the flight time was influenced by local calendar settings and the time zone the passenger was in when adding this to their calendar. As soon as this became apparent easyJet removed the ‘add to calendar’ function. This occurrence is extremely rare and easyJet apologises that RT missed their flight as a result.”
It says that while the correct flight time would have been displayed on boarding passes, online check-in screens and email confirmations, its customer service team will get in touch to “resolve the situation”. This “resolution” turns out to be a refund of £26 – the tax on the flight you missed.
It would seem that there has been a technical error, but neither company is admitting it. You, meanwhile, are left to cover the cost – £971 for the two alternative tickets to Ibiza plus £50 for a taxi to Heathrow. Addictive as new technology is, it would be wise in future to check the times of a flight with the airline or airport the day before departure, since these can in any case change at late notice.
If you need help email Anna Tims at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Your Problems, The Observer, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Include an address and phone number.