Here’s our guide to how to avoid having a flightmare!
Q. How likely is it that my BA flight will be cancelled?
A. This depends on negotiations between BA and the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA). At the moment they are in a deadlock and, if no agreement is forthcoming, strikes are possible as soon as the end of this month. Some understanding will probably be reached, as a strike would not only cause major travel disruption but would hit passenger faith in the airline for future bookings and cost millions of pounds. However, there is no guarantee of this.
Q. When might passengers hear about any strikes?
A. BALPA must give 14 days’ notice of any disruptions. This means if your flight is in the next fortnight, you are — in theory — fine.
Q. What about Ryanair, which has already warned passengers about a strike?
A. BALPA has announced that there will be a 48-hour pilot strike beginning on Thursday, August 22 and another covering three days from Monday, September 1. These may be avoided if talks succeed.
Q. What should I do if my flight is cancelled?
A. You are due a full refund if you are warned 14 days in advance of a cancellation — or you can opt for another flight (known as ‘rerouting’). If the warning is less than 14 days before your flight — which is highly unlikely — you should receive a full refund as well as compensation under EU regulation 261.
This week at least 70,000 passengers were affected by a British Airways IT failure. Almost 130 flights were cancelled and at least 300 delayed
Q. How much compensation can I expect to get?
A. This depends on the distance of your flight. If it is less than 1,500 kilometres and within the EU, the amount is £231. For flights of more than 1,500 kilometres in the EU (or between 1,500-3,500 kilometres outside the EU), compensation is £369. For long-haul flights outside the EU of more than 3,500 kilometres, it is £554. Visit the caa.co.uk website and search for ‘consumer law protection’.
Q. What if a flight cancellation is nothing to do with a strike, as with BA’s IT problems this week?
A. Then you are definitely due compensation — as above — as well as a full refund. If you are put on an alternative flight, the airline must also offer refreshments in proportion to the waiting time, two phone calls or emails, and hotel accommodation with transfers to the hotel.
Q. What about delays — does the compensation differ from strikes?
A. You are due £231 compensation if a flight of less than 1,500 kilometres within the EU is delayed for more than two hours, £369 for EU flights of more than 1,500 kilometres (or between 1,500- 3,500 kilometres outside the EU) that are delayed more than three hours, and £554 for flights of more than 3,500 kilometres outside the EU delayed for more than four hours.
Q. How would I go about making such a claim?
A. Go to ba.com and click on the ‘help’ tab, then the ‘delays, cancellations and refunds’ option. At Ryanair.com, click on the ‘help’ tab and then the ‘EU 261 help centre’ option.
Q. Am I better off booking an early or late flight?
A. The time of your flight will not make a difference to a service cancelled by a strike. However, generally it is better to have an early flight during the busy summer period, especially if you are flying in Europe, because planes often fly several routes in one day and delays may accrue.
Q. Does it make a difference whether I fly long-haul or short-haul?
A. No — strike action by airline and airport staff can hit all services.
Q. Is there any way to avoid strikes affecting flights?
A. Yes. If you book your flight less than two weeks before you intend to travel, subsequent strike announcements cannot affect your service. However, last-minute summer fares tend to be pricier.