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22 Aug 2019

Ryanair pilots' strike - what it means for affected passengers

With two pilots' strikes confirmed, we explain what it means for anyone whose flight is delayed or cancelled
Ryanair flight refunds

UK Ryanair pilots have begun a two-day strike from today. If your flight has been affected you're entitled to assistance, out-of-pocket expenses and, in many cases, compensation.

Yesterday, the High Court rejected Ryanair's attempt to stop pilots employed by Ryanair in the UK from taking strike action as planned today and tomorrow (22 and 23 August), as well as from 2 to 4 September.

Which? consumer rights expert Adam French said: 'Ryanair needs to take every possible step to minimise disruption by informing passengers who are likely to be affected, and offering refunds or alternative transport as required by law in the event of cancellation - if necessary, on other airlines.

'The airline already has a track record of trying to shirk its responsibility to pay compensation to passengers when strikes by its staff go ahead, so we would expect the aviation regulator to step in and take strong action at the first sign of the airline trying to fob off its customers.'

Read more: Your flight delay and cancellation rights when there's a strike.

Check if your Ryanair flight will go ahead

Passengers due to travel can check if their flight is running on the Ryanair website.

If your flight has been affected by any disruption, you will receive an email and SMS notification from Ryanair.

Your next steps if your flight is delayed

Provided that you qualify in one of the categories below, you're entitled to the following assistance:

  • two free phone calls, faxes or emails
  • free meals and refreshments appropriate to the delay
  • free hotel accommodation and hotel transfers if an overnight stay is required.

You must qualify in one of these categories to be entitled to the above:

  • if a flight under 932 miles (for example, London to Venice) is delayed for at least two hours
  • if a flight within the EU that is more than 932 miles (for example, London to Athens) is delayed for at least three hours
  • if a flight that isn't within the EU but is between 932 and 2,174 miles is delayed for at least three hours
  • if any other flight is delayed for at least four hours.

Your next steps if your flight is cancelled

If your flight is one of those affected, you will need to contact Ryanair. Legally, you can choose between the following options:

1. An alternative flight (airlines call this 'rerouting') to your destination.

If your flight wasn't direct and was cancelled part-way through, you're entitled to a flight back to your original point of departure or to be refunded in full.

  • Rerouting to your final destination at the earliest opportunity. Importantly, this can include alternative flights and booking seats with other airlines.
  • Rerouting to your final destination at a later date convenient to you. Importantly, this can include alternative flights and booking seats with other airlines.


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, it's important to be aware that 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.

Read more: You have extra protections if you booked a package holiday with Ryanair.

Your rights to claim compensation when airline staff strike

Unlike delays for other reasons, airlines are usually not obligated to offer compensation following a strike, because strikes are usually considered to be 'extraordinary circumstances'.

Extraordinary circumstances are situations regarded as being beyond the control of the airline. These can include adverse weather conditions as well as certain strike action.

But, if airline staff are the cause of the strike action, and the airline hasn't warned passengers of cancellations resulting from strike action at least two weeks prior to the scheduled time of departure, the airline must compensate passengers. Depending on the length of delay and distance of your flight, compensation could be as much as u20ac600 per passenger.

It remains the airline's responsibility to ensure it has contingencies in place to guarantee you still arrive on time.

Was your flight delayed or cancelled? Use our guide to claim the money your rightfully owed.

Delayed by the after-effects of the strike?

A European Court of Justice ruling in October 2012 stated that airlines should compensate passengers if they're denied boarding because of the aftermath of a strike.

For example, a strike happens on a Monday, it's categorised as an extraordinary circumstance and compensation would not be payable.

But, if there are still delays or cancellations on the Tuesday once the strike is over, compensation would be payable, even if the delays and cancellations are because of the strike the day before.