I Flew Primera Air So You Don’t Have To!
Disney Parks offer many options for every aspect of your vacation. They even offer various park locations. Getting to these locations carries a further set of options as far as land and air travel. On my recent trip ‘across the pond’ to Disneyland Paris, I had a similar choice for airlines to choose from. After weighing the options, times, costs and other options, I decided to give the new guy a try. They have been flying for 15 years but are new to the trans-Atlantic route so I booked our flights from Newark, Airport (EWR) to Charles De Gaulle (CDG) on Primera Air by the Primera Travel Group, an Icelandic company.
The Plane and Flight Experience
The flight out to Paris was more or less uneventful. We checked in for our flight. We went through security and got onto the plane. The plane itself was from euro-Atlantic Airlines but chartered by Primera Air. We had some issues with seating as the middle section of the 767 (4 seats) has only 4 oxygen masks and with our lap infant, it was too many people. A woman sitting beside us volunteered to join her husband in another row. It seemed odd to me that most planes have one extra mask in each section in case of need or for situations such as these, but I didn’t worry about it and off we went.
Entertainment choices were minimal, which kind of goes with the service on this flight. We opted for no meal but weren’t even offered beverages without purchasing them, which is different from what the website advertised. It did still promise water, something that you cant bring through security on your own. We were prepared with food and snacks though. The seats were very narrow. Very narrow, like had my infant daughter not been sitting next to me with her small body, or that woman leaving to join her husband, we would have been terribly uncomfortable. The arm rests, when raised, still had a hinge that protruded into your back.
The very long trip home
Leaving a vacation is never fun. Harder still is leaving Disneyland to go to the airport, especially with two young children. We were on our way to the airport when we heard rumor that our flight may be delayed. The Primera Air website and 3 separate flight tracking sites listed the flight as on time. I tried to call the airline to confirm, We made our way to the airport while I held the line. An hour later we arrived at the airport and finally someone answered the phone and said that our flight had been delayed about 3 hours. We were already a the airport so we had no choice but to wait.
Were we told at check-in that we would receive a meal voucher once we got past security and into the gate area. The representative there, had to find out about it and it turned out that the vouchers that they did have were for the only restaurant in terminal 3. As it turns out however, that restaurant is located outside in the main lobby prior to the security check point. One would have to head back out, grab food and then, go through security a second time in order to use it. We also asked why the status was not properly communicated on the website and we were told it was because they keep check-in open either way. Then then proceeded to close check-in behind as as we were the end of the line until they reopen it later. Talk about blatant hypocrisy! The flight inevitably was delayed again. In total it was 5 hours and 10 minutes. The made up excuses varied each time someone asked them a question. We are talking about blatant lies and fabrications.
Finally Time to Board
When it was time to board, there was no priority given to passengers with children. Nobody took my gate check item at the gate, I had to fold it and carry it onto the bus, that brought us out to the plane along with my 2 children and our carry-on luggage. I handed it off to a crew member before boarding the plane. After once again doing the same seating logistics as the flight out, we were settled into our seats for the even longer flight home.
We landed at about 2am EST. It had been 15 hours since we arrived at the airport. (16 and counting so far) We asked the baggage handler if the stroller was coming to the gate, he said it would go to the carousel with the luggage and not to worry, he would bring it down.
We got our bags and no stroller. Everyone else got their bags and left. No stroller. The flight crew came out to grab a checked bag. no stroller and no bag. We found staff and radioed people to start the search. after 45 minutes the flight attendants bag was located. No stroller. They left. We waited some more. Recruited some more staffers from what limited staff existed during this graveyard shift of the night. The stroller was finally found, broken. We left. it was now 3am. We went in search of a representative from Primera Air.
The 2am Search for Primera Air representatives
We found the representative who apologized for the damage and went to find a form. She came back to say that her supervisor had them and that he was boarding passengers onto a flight and would be down shortly and that she spoke to him. We waited 45 minutes more and he never showed up. We left, broken stroller, two overly exhausted kids to get in our car for the 2+ hour ride home. I will call them after much needed sleep.
Upon arriving home, I am 10+ hours in on holding to speak to them on the phone on several different occasions. Emails and social media inquiries have yet to be returned. EU law states that I am entitled to compensation for my delay over 3 hours and additionally a refund for delay over 5 hours. That is, if they ever answer the phone.
In summation, Do yourself a favor, don’t fly Primera Air. Delays happen, but when service, communication and trust break down, what is left? I Flew Primera Air So You Don’t Have To. Do not Fly Primera Air.
Nearly a month has gone by since my time travelling with Primera Air. Read the update ‘I sincerely mean it. Do not Fly Primera Air – Part 2‘.
DVC Member/WDW Annual Passholder/DCL Castaway Club