Tens of thousands of passengers have been stranded at Gatwick Airport after drones caused for all flights to halt.
Beginning Wednesday night, one of the UK’s busiest airports has been brought to a standstill after privately-owned drones were repeatedly flown over the airfield. The incident that began at 21:00 GMT Wednesday has since delayed 760 flights, leaving thousands of commuters and holiday-makers alike stranded in the thick of the holiday season.
It has been estimated the 110,000 passengers were due to arrive or depart from Gatwick on Thursday, leaving many stranded. The airfield will not be opened until it is “safe to do so”, with some estimates claiming that it will be several days until flights can continue normally again.
The police have since ruled out any possibility of a terror-offence, instead labelling the incident as a “deliberate act” of disruption. Police have also called in snipers to deal with the two drones causing the upset.
The most recent delay has estimated that flights will not be operating till at least 19:00 GMT Thursday.
Frustrated Passengers take to Social Media
Seasonal hopes have been dashed for many passengers, the seemingly endless waiting interrupted with another delay announcement is undoubtedly beginning to wear their patience thin. Many have taken to Twitter to express their dismay.
“@Gatwick_Airport and @British_Airways You have my full angry rants at these mindless idiots. My son was due to fly home today – a drone has come between a mother and his son. If I find the b*****d responsible …!! Hope you get your well deserved family Christmas” says Sarah Lea (@SarahLoulou18).
Others affected by the delays have sought out alternate means to make it home for Christmas, Kat Rogers (@itskatrogers) says:
“@LNER hi – my flight from Gatwick to Aberdeen has been cancelled due to the drone chaos today. Can I get a free train with you guys to Edinburgh to help me get home for Christmas?”
Yet some passengers are already eagerly seeking refunds for cancelled flights, with Phil Hawkins asking:
“Where do we send claims for compensation? @British_Airways isn’t accepting responsibility and I’ve now had to purchase a ticket from another airline to another airport and have to travel across London to get back to my car. Someone to blame here…@Flight_Refunds #GatwickDrone”
And with no clear end in sight the moods of those affected will surely not fair well through the coming days.
What are the rules for Drone usage?
The private usage of drones is a divisive topic, with both those who support and decry the recreational use of drones being equally passionate. However, laws have been implemented in order to curtail the, at times, disruptive and invasive potential of privately-owned drones.
As far as restrictions go, there aren’t many. But it is illegal to:
- Fly your drone above 400ft (doing so often proves to be a hazard to aircraft)
- Fly your drone in a congested area within 150ft of any person or property that isn’t under your control
- Fly your drone within 1km of any airport
The latter of which can land you an unlimited fine or five years jail time.