In recent weeks airports and airlines all over the world have struggled with the impact of staff shortages as a result of sickness from increased levels of coronavirus. From massive disruptions resulting in long queues at Manchester Airport, to easyJet being forced to cancel over 200 flights this weekend, and a further 62 on Monday (April 4).
Travelers looking to get away for the Easter break could also expect more chaos as easyJet are expected to cancel more flights.
A spokesperson for easyJet said: “As a result of the current high rates of COVID infections across Europe, like all businesses easyJet is experiencing higher than usual levels of employee sickness. We have taken action to mitigate this through the rostering of additional standby crew this weekend, however, with the current levels of sickness, we have also decided to make some cancellations in advance which were focused on consolidating flights where we have multiple frequencies so customers have more options to rebook their travel, often on the same day.”
With reports of some travelers being stranded over seas, and the threat of holidaymakers being affected by further airline disruptions, we have compiled a list of the cancellation policies of Britain’s most popular airlines. Firstly there are basic rights and regulations that all airlines need to adhere to.
Know your rights
- Your airline must either provide you with means to transfer your flight to an alternative one free of charge, or provide you with a full refund for your flight.
- Under UK law your airline must provide you with adequate care and assistance.
- Which means until you are able to fly to your destination, they must provide you with enough food and drink to get by, they usually do this by issuing food vouchers which can be redeemed at selected vendors.
- They must enable you to communicate effectively, this often means reimbursing calls from abroad.
- They must provide accommodation if you need it as well as transport to and from.
- If your airline is experiencing issues due to lack of staffing, they might struggle to provide this care for each passenger. In this case, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) advise that it is reasonable for passengers to arrange their own care (book their own accommodation, buy their own food etc) but they should keep all receipts so as to get the costs reimbursed. They also warn passengers not to overspend on items such as luxury accommodation or alcohol, as unreasonable spends will not be reimbursed.
- You must be traveling from a UK airport, to a UK airport, or on a UK airline.
Perhaps the most prominent airline facing large numbers of flight cancellations right now is easyJet, and the best place to keep up to date with updates is via their Flight Tracker either online or through their app. If your flight has been cancelled, the airline will get in touch with you via email and/or phone number provided in your booking, however, if you booked your flight through a third party such as a travel agent, they may be responsible for contacting you so it may be worth inquiring about your flight if you haven’t heard anything.
You can transfer your flight free of charge to another easyJet flight to the same location, or a nearby location. This option is dependent on seat availability on other flights, and you can manage this online via the ‘Manage Bookings’ section of your account.
Alternatively, you can get a full refund for your flight which will be processed within seven days, with the potential for the money to land in your account a couple of days later. You can track your refund request here. Additionally, you can choose to receive a voucher for the full value of your booking which is valid for 12 months, you should also request this voucher via ‘Manage Bookings’.
If your Ryanair flight gets cancelled, the airline promises you will be notified as soon as possible either by text or email. You will then either be able to apply for a full refund, or change your canceled flight to another one for free depending on the seats available.
If the airline is unable to arrange the exact same flight on the same day, they will instead look into arranging a flight to the same country, and they will also consider providing other transport options to get you to your destination including train, bus, airline , or car hire.
If you have made additional purchases with your flight, such as car hire or transfers, Ryanair request that you contact the providers yourself to make changes using their contact list, once your flight has been rearranged.
Refunds will be processed within five working days, and are paid back to you using the same form of payment used for the original booking. You can manage all issues regarding your flight online by logging into the Ryanair account which you booked your flight through.
The third biggest airline in the UK, Jet2, advises that if your flight is canceled by them, and they are unable to reschedule a suitable alternative, the airline will refund the flight to the card used to make the original payment.
To do this, simply enter your booking reference, surname and date of departure to manage your booking, and choose the option which suits you best. There is less information available regarding their refund policy, however they are obliged to arrange food vouchers, and accommodation should you be stranded in another country waiting for your rescheduled flight.
Much like the other airlines, British Airways offers refunds on all canceled flights, as well as re-routing options, which can both be managed via ‘Manage My Booking’. They aim to resolve all issues quickly and effectively, however, if you have booked through a travel agent then they do request that you get in touch with them to resolve the issue.
The company urges any customer experiencing trouble with canceled flights to get in touch with them directly.
Due to it being a popular airline for long haul fights, many people who experience canceled flights with Etihad Airlines might find themselves some way from home at the time their flight gets cancelled. If you find yourself in this position, then you will be able to sort a re-routed flight or a refund, but bare in mind that the refund process with this airline takes longer than usual, taking between 14 to 30 working days to appear on your card or bank statement.
Refunds will be processed to the same card on which they were purchased, but if you are no longer using the same card then you can get in touch with the airline for help.
If your Emirates flight is canceled then you will receive a refund for the parts of your ticket which have not been used. For example, if you’ve purchased a return flight but have already used the first half of the flight to get to your holiday destination, and then your return flight gets cancelled, you will only be refunded for the price of your return flight, not the full cost you paid.
Refunds are processed via this ‘Request a Refund’ page. The airline will also aim to re-route your journey in line with regulations. Passengers have the option to keep their ticket and put it to use in the 24 months following their original journey. There is no extra cost to this option, and the destination of the ticket can be changed.
TUI, who claim that they are regularly one of the top performing airlines in the UK, say that they do their utmost to ensure that any disruptions are kept to a minimum. If you are looking to receive a full refund for a canceled flight, then TUI say they will ensure that you are reimbursed for all additional costs you may have paid for such as extra leg room.
If you opt to rebook your flight, you will receive a booking incentive individually to you, which will be sent when they notify you of your canceled holiday. Due to payment regulations, if you paid for your flights in installations then you will receive your refund in the same installations, potentially sent at different times. If this happens to you and you notice a smaller refund than you expected, don’t worry, you will still be reimbursed in full, says TUI.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.