In Depth

Ryanair compensation: what you need to know

What to do if your flight is cancelled and what compensation should Ryanair be paying

Ryanair has hit the headlines with news it is cancelling thousands of flights, leaving hundreds of thousands of passengers with their holiday plans in tatters. Here’s what you need to know.

How many flights are cancelled?

At the latest count Ryanair has cancelled 20,000 flights. Initially, it scrapped 2,000 up to the end of October. But it has now cancelled a further 18,000 flights from its winter schedule between November and March next year, with 34 routes being suspended over the winter season.

It’s estimated that almost half a million people will be affected by the cancellations.

Why are flights being cancelled?

The cancellation was blamed on a “major boo boo” (in the words of chief executive Michael O’Leary) with the airline’s holiday rota – basically too many pilots are heading off on their holidays at the same time.

The additional cancellations in the winter schedule were made to try to get things back on track. By taking more flights out of service the airline will be able to “roster all of the extra pilot leave necessary”.

However, there are also rumours the problems stem from a pilot shortage owing to a walkout prompted by unhappiness over pay and work conditions. This hasn’t been confirmed but Mr O’Leary has criticised his own pilots, saying they don’t have a difficult job and if they are tired it must be down to what they get up to outside of work.

My flight is cancelled – what do I do?

If your flight has been cancelled at short notice you have the right “to be rerouted to your final destination shown on your ticket at the earliest opportunity under comparable transport conditions or rebooking at a later date if that is more convenient for you”, says EU rules.

The problem is Ryanair hasn’t been obeying the rules. It has told passengers it doesn’t have to reroute them on to other airlines and it has failed to properly explain its obligations to refund additional expenses incurred by passengers as a result of the cancellations.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has now stepped in and ordered Ryanair to amend the information it is giving out to passengers and publishing on its website or face legal action.

“There are clear laws in place which are intended to assist passengers in the event of a cancellation, helping minimise both the frustration and inconvenience caused by circumstances completely out of their control,” says CAA chief executive Andrew Haines.

“We have made this crystal clear to Ryanair, who are well aware of their legal obligations, which includes how and when they should reroute passengers, along with the level of information it provides its passengers. The information Ryanair published again fails to make this clear.”

What compensation must Ryanair pay?

Ryanair has said that passengers whose flights have been cancelled will be offered vouchers of £40 one-way and £80 return so that they can book a flight on an alternative Ryanair service between October and March 2018.

But this doesn’t go far enough. Under EU law Ryanair must offer an alternative flight or a full refund if a flight is cancelled. You must also be offered meals, refreshments and hotel accommodation if needed while you wait for a rearranged flight.

On top of this you may be entitled to compensation. If you are given less than 14 days’ notice of a cancelled flight you can claim up to €250 under EU law.

In recent days, Ryanair has made improved offers of compensation and alternative flights, but “travellers who had initially opted for a refund on the cost of their Ryanair tickets complained of being, in effect, locked out” of the new scheme, reports The Guardian.

What is this costing Ryanair?

So far the flight cancellations have cost Ryanair around €25m (£21m) but that figure is likely to rise.

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