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Ryanair flight chaos continues – what you need to know

Robin Bowman

Robin Bowman
Sep 19, 2017

As tens of thousands of Ryanair passengers are left stranded by cancelled flights, the airline said the cuts in flights will go on.

As many as 400,000 passengers are likely to see their booked flights cancelled between now and the end of October.

And there are fears the cuts – caused, the airline says, by a messed-up pilots’ leave timetable –  may go on to the end of the year, hitting thousands of people’s Christmas and New Year plans.

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In what has rapidly become a PR disaster for the low-cost carrier, it says it has now contacted several hundred thousand passengers to tell them their flights have been cancelled.

And Ryanair says the pilots’ holiday rostering problem will cost it around £22 million in compensation payments to passengers. It rejects claims the real reason for the cancellations is a shortage of pilots because they are leaving for better pay and conditions at other airlines.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has said 75% to 80% of passengers will be re-routed free of charge within a day of their booked departure date. Compensation of between £212 and £354 will be paid, depending on the length of the journey.

This will leave up to 100,000 ticket holders disrupted by more serious delays.

Thousands have taken to social media to attack the airline’s handling of the problem:


So far, the airline has refused to pay for alternative flights on other airlines, but there are potential plans to pay pilots to give up their holidays.

However, it has also emerged that pilots are now threatening the possibility of striking, which could led to even more delays and cancellations. 

A full list of cancelled flights, to the end of October is now posted on the Ryanair website, here.


Here’s what you can do if your flight is cancelled.

Apply for a refund.  You are entitled to a refund, even if only one leg of your flight is cancelled. But you might want to consider using, say, the return leg, if it’s still convenient.

You can also accept an alternative flight, but this will only be from Ryanair, as the airline has refused to rebook passengers on rival airlines.

It has said that, in most cases, it will offer an alternative flight, but this may not even be on the same day.

The Civil Aviation Authority rules says that if the alternative offered is “significantly sooner” than your booking, then you have the right to be booked on an alternative airline.

That will involve an argument, however, because Ryanair has categorically said it won't do this. Plus, you’d have to debate what “significant” means.


What about money for being messed about?

Many people are demanding on social media that they should be able to claim compensation for the inconvenience and stress of the whole experience.

It is possible to claim, but only on fairly restricted circumstances. It will depend on how soon before the cancellation you were told about it – more than 14 days’ notice and the airline doesn't have to pay a penny, other than a refund.

So far, though, all Ryanair passengers have been given under a week’s notice.

And in this case, a short-haul flight only needs to be two hours late for a passenger to be able to claim €250.

If you’re flying long-haul (over 1,500 kms) and you're at least three hours late, you can claim €400.

You can also claim compensation if you’re flight is re-routed.

Here’s what the EU rules say in full and the amounts you may be entitled to for cancelled flights:

“If you are involuntarily denied boarding or your flight is cancelled or delayed by three or more hours with respect to the scheduled arrival time (provided no extraordinary circumstances occur), you are entitled to receive the following amount from us:

* €250 in respect of all flights of 1,500km or less; OR

* €400 in respect of all intra-EU flights of more than 1,500km, and for all other flights between 1,500km and 3,500km.


“If we are able to offer you re-routing on an alternative flight and the arrival time of the re-routed flight does not exceed the scheduled arrival time of the flight booked: by two hours, in respect of all flights of 1,500km or less; or by three hours, in respect of all intra-EU flights of more than 1,500km, and for all other flights between 1,500km and 3,500km. The compensation set out above may be reduced by 50%.”

If you find that you are stranded at an airport, perhaps returning home, you can be entitled to certain costs to cover expenses.

For example, the airline must put you up in a hotel if you are delayed overnight. Food and drink as well as access to communications must also be provided. These must be within reason, however, such as the cost of a small number of phone calls.