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.'
If your flight has been affected by any disruption, you will receive an email and SMS notification from Ryanair.
Provided that you qualify in one of the categories below, you're entitled to the following assistance:
You must qualify in one of these categories to be entitled to the above:
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.
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.
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.
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.