Easter getaway flight disruptionYour rights to refunds and compensation

05 April 2012

Airport sign directing travellers to the terminal.

About 1.5 million Britons are flying abroad  for the Easter weekend amid warnings of potential 'gridlock' at airports and against a background of strikes by airline and airport workers.

Eleven airlines have written to Home Secretary Theresa May warning that lack of resources risk worsening at airports and a separate letter from Virgin Atlantic said queues could be so bad that the operation of entire airports could be threatened.

Flight cancellations

The warnings come as Iberia pilots prepare to start a series of strikes on Easter Monday, causing of Heathrow-Madrid services. 

Action by the Iberia pilots follows three days of strikes by French air traffic controllers that led to hundreds of flights delayed and cancelled by EasyJet, British Airways and Ryanair, and a general strike in Spain that hit air travel.

A threat by baggage handlers at Stansted airport to strike over the Easter weekend was called off on Tuesday.

Refunds for delays and cancellations

If your flight is delayed your airline has to give you free meals and refreshments as well as two free phone calls, and you also have the to free hotel accommodation and transfers if you need somewhere to stay.

You can also choose not to travel and get a full refund for your ticket if the delay is for five hours or more.

If your flight is cancelled you should also be given a refund for the full cost of the flight, or be put in another flight to your destination as soon as possible, or at a later date if that is more convenient to you.

Compensation for delays and cancellations

Your rights to compensation will depend on the reason for the delay or cancellation. Under the Denied Boarding Regulations airlines do not have to pay compensation for disruption caused by 'extraordinary circumstances'.

Strikes are generally classed as 'extraordinary circumstances' but in other circumstances airlines have to pay compensation of between €250 and €600 for , and €125 and €600 for .

You should also check if your travel insurance covers you against strikes.

More on this...

The Which? guide to your  

Find out which insurers cover strikes

Download our free Consumer Rights iPhone app