Following British Airways’ IT crisis last week, the airline had to cancel again this week, with 72 flights canceled for today alone.
EasyJet has also canceled hundreds of flights from various UK airports this week, with customers scrambling to find alternative routes and claim their flight tickets back.
Both airlines are begging for staff shortages due to Covid-19 absences, but what’s the best course of action if your flight is canceled – and what does your carrier owe you?
Here’s everything you need to know.
If my flight is cancelled, what are my rights?
The European air passenger rights rules, which were carried over to UK law after Brexit, are clear – and apply to every airline that flies from the UK and its flights to the UK. UK and EU airlines.
Whatever the cause of the cancellation, the carrier is obligated to find you an alternative flight that will get you to your destination as soon as possible after your original arrival time.
If the airline can rebook you on one of their flights on the same day, it can do so – instead of buying you a ticket on another carrier.
For example, if your 7 a.m. flight to Frankfurt is cancelled, the airline may have you departing at 5 p.m. instead of placing you on a competitor’s 12 p.m. flight – although it would then need to provide meals that match the delay time. .
What if there are no other flights on the same airline?
The regulations regarding the rights of air passengers are explained by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as clear. If an alternative means of transport is available to get you to your destination on the same day, BA must provide that transportation – usually a flight, but for services within the UK or to Paris, Amsterdam or Brussels, it is maybe a train.
Airlines will generally look for seats on other flights operated by partner airlines (for British Airways, that means Aer Lingus of Ireland and Iberia of Spain – both of which are in the same category. IAG Corporation).
For other routes, they will focus on airlines with which they have disruption agreements – BA and Germany’s Lufthansa, for example. But legally, if the only way to get a stranded passenger to their destination on the right day is to buy a new ticket from an “unrelated” airline, such as easyJet or Ryanair, then the airline that canceled the flight must do like that.
Will the airline tell me about this?
Not always. The Independent saw a BA letter issued to passengers whose flights were canceled last week. It says: “You can accept the alternative flight we have suggested to you, or consider alternatives that may be more suitable.” Typically, flights departing later than British Airways.
Meanwhile, a number of easyJet passengers have informed the airline of their cancellations with no alternative flights offered.
If I book a new flight myself, can I request a refund?
Legally, I believe so, as long as you can prove that the canceling airline did not offer you a flight on the same day as your original travel.
It would be helpful if you could show that you have made an effort to get the airline to comply with its obligations, for example by calling – while many are reporting that it is very difficult to contact BA, cell phone proof of attempted so can help.
You should always try to keep costs as low as possible, although if the only seats left are business class on another airline, the cancellation carrier will have to pay.
How about staying overnight?
When hundreds of flights are canceled over a weekend, it is inevitable that tens of thousands of passengers will be stranded overnight. Airlines are obligated to book and pay for the room.
British Airways is clear that if you want to book a private room, you can do so. “If you want to book your own accommodation, we can make sure we cover it to make sure you don’t run out of pocket,” says BA.
However, the airline immediately contradicted its assurances, saying: “British Airways will cover hotel rooms up to £200 (based on two people sharing) without question. ”
This does not appear to be sustainable. If the spike in demand in the Swiss city of Geneva caused by the cancellation of nine BA flights meant the cheapest room rate was £300, it is hard to imagine that the airline could refuse this request. .
Conversely, however, if someone stuck at Heathrow decided to book a suite at the Ritz in London’s Mayfair for £1,000, that would be reasonably denied.
As for easyJet, the airline states: “If your flight is cancelled, we can provide you with an overnight hotel room, should you need it. If you’re eligible, you can request a room after you’ve transferred to a new flight on our app or in Manage Booking. ”
If you are unable to make arrangements through the “manage your booking” area, you can ask the ground staff at your airport for assistance.
EasyJet also allows customers to book their own accommodation for a night, but advises that booked hotels should be at “three-star or equivalent,” check out the Premier Inn and Travelodge names among other brands.
Is ground traffic covered?
Yes, again if it is commensurate. Taxis to a local hotel and back to the airport the next day should be covered, unless the airline cancels the bus arrangement.
The Independent have also heard from passengers who have flown into Birmingham (no flights to London) and then taken a cab, costing £250, to their home in east London.
Assuming fast and fairly frequent trains to London still run, this would not be a reasonable claim and is likely to be disproved.
What about meals?
After your scheduled departure time arrives and departs, the airline is responsible for providing the meal in a reasonable proportion to the waiting time. It can offer offers: if they are clearly not enough (eg €5 for an airport dinner) then you can ask for a reasonable extra spending. Alcohol is never included. All expenses must be properly recorded – i.e. not just a credit card payment slip.
The cancellation airline may provide meals as part of the hotel package, in which case no other charges will be accepted by the hotel.
What about cash compensation?
British Airways, to its credit, took full responsibility for its failure, saying: “We know this is an unforgivable situation and apologies are not sufficient to express our regrets. us about the situation we know we’ve put you in.”
Apparently it has a responsibility to compensate all passengers whose flights are canceled or significantly delayed.
But BA later failed to explain that they were compensated in cash. This defies the law, which states: “Operating airlines that refuse to board or cancel flights must provide each affected passenger with a written notice outlining the provisions for compensation and support”.
The airline says that the obligation to pay between £220 and £520 per passenger can be found in a link in the letter to ba.com/helpme. But the letter mentions this only in the context of cost recovery.
Anyone clicking through will see, under the title Compensation: “You may also be compensated for a delayed or canceled flight under certain circumstances.”
After about 10 more clicks, you may be lucky enough to land on this page to claim your compensation.
BA says this form takes 10-15 minutes to complete. There is no specified time limit for the payment.
What did British Airways say?
A spokesperson told The Independent: “We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience our customers have experienced and thank them for their patience and understanding during this extremely frustrating time. We are doing everything we can to get them to their destination as soon as possible. ”
What did EasyJet say?
A spokesperson told The Independent: “Due to the current high rate of Covid infections across Europe, like all businesses, easyJet is experiencing higher than usual levels of employee illness.
“We have taken action to mitigate this by adding extra backup crews this weekend, however, given the current level of illness, we have also decided to cancel some of the flights in advance to prevent further damage. focuses on consolidating flights where we have multiple frequencies, so customers have more options to rebook their travel, often on the same day. ”