What rights do I have if my flight is cancelled?

Dozens of flights are canceled by airlines every day due to staff shortages and sick leave.

British Airways, easyJet and Tui have all decided to cut their summer flight schedules, with most routes canceled in advance and passengers notified.

Airlines say this will allow them to operate more efficiently and reduce the risk of last-minute cancellations.

However, some last-minute cancellations continue day by day – some passengers report that their flights have been canceled after arriving at the gate or even boarding their plane.

Fortunately, consumer law is firmly on the side of passengers.

In accordance with European air passenger rights regulations, easyJet must:

  • to ensure its passengers are flown to where they need to be as quickly as possible
  • Provision of hotels and meals as required

In addition, passengers are entitled to compensation of either £220 (for flights under 1,500 km) or £350 (longer flights).

These are the most important obligations for any airline that has to cancel a flight at short notice or has a long delay.

My flight has been cancelled. When can I expect to reach my goal?

You are eligible to travel on the original departure date if there is a commercial opportunity to get you to your destination.

You should give the canceling airline an opportunity to arrange a new flight (or train for domestic UK connections or travel to Paris, Brussels or Amsterdam).

I was offered an alternative within two days. Can’t I come earlier?

Yes. Airlines understandably want to keep passengers on their own services, but there are clear limits. The Civil Aviation Authority says if the canceling airline has another flight on the same day, they can rebook you on that one (and provide meals while you wait).

But easyJet has its own longer limit of 24 hours.

Some passengers say they have been told by easyJet that they cannot be rebooked on another airline.

This is nonsense: all carriers must be taken into account.

If the canceling airline is unable or unwilling to honor their obligation, you should buy a ticket and then reclaim it.

What if the replacement flight is to or from a different airport?

In addition to purchasing a country/region ticket, the canceling airline must also provide or pay for additional ground transportation to take you to your original destination.

For example, if your easyJet flight to Naples from Gatwick is canceled and the only alternative departure that day is British Airways or ITA from Heathrow, the airline should arrange transport for you from Gatwick to Heathrow (probably a National Express coach).

If you aren’t helped, you can pay and reclaim again – but do whatever you can to keep costs down. A taxi would not be sensible and appropriate unless you are in a group of four, for example.

What if I am delayed overnight and need hotel accommodation?

Again, the canceling airline must provide these – plus transportation to and from the airport. If not, you should make your own arrangements and try to keep costs to a minimum. Note that easyJet says: “We will always do our best to provide overnight accommodation for our customers. In times of widespread disruption this is not always possible, so we may ask you to find accommodation yourself.

“In this case we ask that you look for accommodation that is 3 star or equivalent such as Premier Inn, Ibis, Holiday Inn, Hotel Formule 1, Travelodge or Motel-One.

“If you decide to book more expensive accommodation when equivalent hotels were available in our proposed offer, we cannot refund the full cost of the accommodation.”

Given that hotel rooms in the Gatwick area will be extremely difficult to find that evening, capping the price limit in this case does not seem enforceable.

what about meals

Oddly enough, the point at which an airline’s obligation to provide you with “an adequate amount of food and drink” begins depends on the length of flight you should be taking.

  • Less than 1,500 km: two hours
  • 1,500 km-3,500 km: three hours

As a rule, after this period, passengers receive a voucher for a certain amount. If this is clearly not enough (e.g. for a cup of tea and a pack of chips if you are six hours late), you can claim reasonable additional expenses – but not for alcohol.

Am I entitled to compensation for the disruption?

This depends on the cause of the delay and only applies if you arrive at your final destination (and an aircraft door is opened) at least three hours after the original arrival time.

In the event of an IT crash at easyJet or a technical problem at an airline, it is hard to imagine how the airline could avoid paying cash compensation.

There is also a sliding scale here.

  • Trips under 1,500km: £220
  • Trips from 1,500km to 3,500km: £350

Airlines generally have a portal on their website for these claims, although it is often not easy to find. In the case of easyJet, this is the correct link.

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