The 7.20pm flight to London Gatwick, which had originally been scheduled to leave from Rome’s Fiumicino airport, instead departed from Naples – with only half the number of passengers on board – after a 40-minute delay.
The airline rerouted the flight due to the ongoing disruption at Fiumicino after a fire in early May at the airport’s terminal three, which handles international flights.
But passengers told The Local that they only found out about the change after attempting to check-in online, giving some of them little time to work out how to get to the southern Italian city of Naples – 225.7km from the capital.
To make matters worse, BA said in a notice to passengers on its website that it was unable to provide transport between the two cities or reimburse them for the cost.
Other BA London-bound flights scheduled to operate until July 5th have either been scrapped or rerouted to Naples.
“It’s been a total disaster,” said Nikki, who was returning home after a four-day break in Rome with her husband Mark.
“We only found out a few hours before check-in. There was no transport laid on and the airline offered no help or advice on how to actually get to Naples. You pay extra with BA because you think you’re going to get the service.”
A fast train between Naples and Rome takes an hour and costs about €45 one-way. The airport is then a taxi or bus ride way, which costs €20 and €4, respectively.
Kerry, an Australian who booked the flight six months ago, said she didn’t receive a message about the change.
“I found out when I went online. It’s disgusting,” she added.
“Luckily we made it to Naples in time, but I imagine many people didn’t. We had such a great time in Italy and it’s shame it ended in this way.”
A British couple who were returning from a cruise holiday said they only got a message late on Tuesday night after arriving at the port of Civitavecchia, about an hour from Rome.
“We had absolutely no idea how to then get from there to Naples. It was all very confusing,” the couple said.
Another passenger took to TripAdvisor to vent her frustration after her flight was rerouted late last week: “No one there to help when we arrive at Naples,” she wrote. “Had to sort our own travel out and arrived in Rome around four hours later than planned after a sweaty journey lugging our bags around.”
BA offered passengers the option to switch to another flight or get a refund, so it is unclear if the empty seats on the Gatwick flight were because of people being stranded.
Another passenger, who lives in Rome, told The Local she was offered the option to fly to London from the capital via either Madrid or Barcelona – a journey that would have taken seven hours.
BA on Thursday apologized to its customers for the ongoing disruption and explained that it is restricted by Fiumicino's restoration schedule, which can affect flights at short notice.
“Like all airlines, we have been asked by the Italian authorities to cut the number of flights into the airport,” the company said in a statement to The Local.
“We aim to give our customers as much notice as possible of any changes, and we are rebooking and rerouting as many people as possible to minimise the impact to their journeys.”
The low-cost airline easyJet, along with dozens of other companies, has also been forced to cancel flights from Fiumicino due to the disruption.
But easyJet is also operating some flights out of Rome’s Ciampino airport. In a notice on its website, the company said passengers will be given 48 hours notice of any change and that overnight accommodation would be provided if required.
Fiumicino plunged into chaos after the blaze at terminal three, triggered by an electrical fault.
It took more than five hours to bring the overnight fire fully under control, by which point it had devastated a shopping area with a string of up-market boutiques.
Capacity at the airport has been reduced to 60 percent after the fire caused the closure of the security gates at the terminal.
Long-haul travellers also described scenes of chaos on Sunday.
Read more: Chaos deepens at Rome's blaze-hit airport
For more information on BA's rerouted flights from Rome, click here.