Ryanair has cancelled nearly 400 flights as it battles unions in Germany, Sweden, Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands. About 50,000 passengers have been directly affected, with others likely to be hit by delays. Ryanair says 85% of scheduled flights will operate as normal on Saturday, and that affected customers have mostly accepted places on alternative flights. But what if you are among those hit?
What happens if my flight is cancelled?
Ryanair says all customers have been contacted and offered a refund or alternative flight.
Will I also be paid compensation under EU rules?
This is a thorny one; under the EU261 compensation guidelines, airlines must pay €250 (£224) if journeys shorter than 1,500km (930 miles) are delayed by more than three hours. But they are only liable for compensation if the delay is caused by an extraordinary circumstance such as bad weather.
If a flight is cancelled, then slightly different rules apply; if you were given more than 14 days’ notice, you are only entitled to your money back or a new flight. If you had less notice than that, which will be the case with Friday’s strikes, then you have a case for claiming compensation as well as the refund.
Will Ryanair pay out?
It is fighting hard against this. It argues that customers are not entitled to compensation for flights cancelled on 10 August because the strike amounts to “extraordinary circumstances”. It calls the strike action “unjustified” and says: “Under EU261 legislation, no compensation is payable when the union is acting unreasonably and totally beyond the airline’s control.”
Aviation ADR, which handles airline disputes on behalf of passengers, refutes this claim and in previous disputes about cancellations owing to internal strikes has found in favour of consumers.
A report published by Which? on Friday says: “Passengers who have a flight cancelled with less than 15 days’ notice as a result of flight or cabin crew industrial action should complain to the airline first. If they do not receive a satisfactory response, they have little choice but to use AviationADR. Unlike with the claims solicitors, the process is free and Ryanair is legally obliged to comply with its decisions.”
Doesn’t Ryanair automatically reject compensation claims?
They certainly take a robust approach. But passengers who take their complaint to Aviation ADR will face a long wait for results. The Which? research shows that only 14% of cancellation and delay claims handled by Aviation ADR against Ryanair led to a payout last year, and the figures for the first quarter of 2018 were worse. AviationADR received more than 3,600 EU261 complaints about the airline in 2017 but only 496 passengers were awarded compensation. According to the report, “the vast majority of complaints were still outstanding at the end of the year”.
What about any extra costs incurred because of the cancellation?
The airline should provide reasonable accommodation and food while you wait for your alternative flight but it will not cover any “consequential losses” such as for pre-paid accommodation or missed excursions in your destination.
If the airline has rerouted you the insurance policy will not cover costs incurred while waiting for your alternative flight.
What if I’m delayed getting home?
The airline is responsible for making sure you have suitable accommodation, transport to the accommodation, food, drink and access to email and a phone while you wait for an alternative flight.
But it will not cover additional costs such as extended kennel fees for pets or extra car parking, and neither will your insurance policy, unless it has an “any cause beyond your control” clause; most do not. “That is the important clause to look for when you book travel insurance,” says Fiona Macrae of Travelinsuranceexplained.co.uk.
What if I cancel my trip altogether?
The airline will refund your flight, but not the cost of your entire holiday. If you decide to cancel the trip your travel insurance will only cover you if it specifies “any cause beyond your control”.