If your flight is delayed or cancelled because of a strike, your airline has an obligation to offer you assistance if the delay is expected to go beyond a certain point.
Assistance can include food and drink and overnight accommodation, if required. It can also include booking you onto an alternative flight or refunding you.
The type and amount of assistance available will depend on the length of flight and the length of the delay.
Depending on the circumstances of the strike, you might also be entitled to compensation.
This will depend on whether the strike is seen as being something within or outside of the airline's control to prevent.
Under UK and EU law, you're only entitled to compensation if you hear from the airline less than 14 days' from the date you're due to fly that your flight is cancelled.
Provided that you qualify in the categories below, you're entitled to the following assistance:
You must flight must be in one of these categories:
And the distance of your flight and length of your delay must be within the following categories:
Additionally, if a delay lasts for five hours or more you are legally entitled to withdraw from your flight and ask for a refund. But, once you take a refund the airline no longer has a duty of care towards you and you can't claim back any further expenses you have.
If you're protected by the Denied Boarding Regulation you are entitled to claim one of the following:
1. An alternative flight (airlines call this rerouting) to your destination.
You are also entitled to assistance:
2. Cancel your flight and get a refund. You can also choose this option if the delay lasts for five hours or more but the flight isn't cancelled.
You must receive a refund of the full cost of the flight within seven days. But, once you take a refund the airline no longer has a duty of care towards you and you can't claim back any further expenses you have.
If other airlines are flying you can try to rebook with an alternative airline yourself and claim that back as an expense.
But this is risky, and we’d recommend taking this step only once you’ve exhausted all over options.
This may only work if your reason for travel is exceptionally time sensitive, such as a child’s wedding or job interview.
Depending on the circumstances you may also be able to claim this successfully if you have to wait more than a couple of days for the rescheduled flight you're offered.
Importantly, do not cancel your existing booking, this will leave you in a much strong position to claim back the cost of your alternative flight.
You're only entitled to compensation if you hear from the airline less than 14 days from the date you're due to fly that your flight is cancelled.
If the airline warned you of the cancellation at least two weeks prior to your scheduled time of departure, you won't get compensation but you'll get a refund.
Airlines are not always obligated to offer compensation following a strike because strikes are usually considered to be 'extraordinary circumstances'. These are situations beyond the control of the airline, and can include adverse weather conditions as well as certain strike action.
But when a a flight is delayed or cancelled due to strike action taking place by the airline's own employees (eg pilots, airline staff), then the airline is required to pay compensation to passengers.
Even sudden 'wildcat' strikes aren't classed as extraordinary circumstances when the industrial action has been called by an airline's staff rather than a third party, such as an air traffic control or a baggage handling strike.
This principle was confirmed by European judges in the German case of Helga Krüsemann and Others v TUIfly GmbH and will be legally binding throughout Europe and in the UK.
It remains the airline’s responsibility to ensure it has contingencies in place to guarantee you still arrive on time.
If you travelled to or from a UK airport and your flight was delayed or cancelled, we can help you calculate what compensation you can claim for free.Start your claim
A European Court of Justice ruling in October 2012 stated that airlines should compensate passengers if they're denied boarding because of a strike, after the strike takes place.
For example, if a strike happens on a Monday, and this is categorised as an extraordinary circumstance, then compensation would be not payable.
But, if there are still delays or cancellations on the Tuesday and the strike is over, compensation would be payable, even if the delays and cancellations are because of the strike the day before.