What you’re entitled to if your holiday is grounded

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A delay to your holiday flight brings you down like nothing else but what can you do about it?

At the moment Ryanair passengers are being left literally in tears after being told, in some cases, that the next flight they can get on  is up to nine days away.

Ryanair has actually offered pilots a £12,000 bonus for ten days work as the airline fights its cancellation crisis. Crew have been promised up to £1,200-a-day if they fly when they are meant to be on holiday. The offer lasts until the end of October.

The company has cancelled  an estimated 2,000 flights and that could  leave up to 400,000 passengers stranded over the next six weeks.

Some victims have told how they have been left sobbing after spending £20 or more on calls to its premium rate helpline – if they can get through at all.
But, remember, if your flight is cancelled, you are due a full refund or alternative flight under EU rule 261/2004. If your Ryanair flight is cancelled the airline must give you a choice of two option:


A full refund

You can get your money back. This includes the money back for both trips if you have booked a return ticket and either of your journeys  are cancelled.


An alternative flight

If you still want to travel, your airline must find an alternative flight. Depending on the passenger’s preference, this has to be at the earliest opportunity, or at the passenger’s leisure, subject to the availability of seats.

The EU rules mean you may also be due compensation in some circumstances, on top of your refund or alternative flight. But what’s crucial is when Ryanair notified you that your flight was cancelled – what counts is when it contacted you directly, not when it published the list of cancelled flights on its website.

If   your flight was cancelled with up to 14 days’ notice…  you could be due between £110 and £355 compensation. It must be the airline’s fault for this to apply, but in this case Ryanair has admitted it has “messed up”.
Heres a point few people are aware of – If you are delay because of a strike, your airline has an obligation to offer you assistance if the delay is expected to go beyond a certain point but they do not owe you compensation, because the action isn’t there fault. However, the assistance they offer should include food and drink and overnight accommodation.

Unlike delays for other reasons, airlines are not obligated to offer compensation following a strike because strikes are usually considered to be ‘extraordinary circumstances’.

Airlines tend to rely on ‘extraordinary circumstances’ to try and avoid paying up – extraordinary circumstances   include adverse weather conditions and strikes.

Under general rules, listed in the  Denied Boarding Regulations, you’re entitled to compensation for all sorts of things but the amount depends on the length of the flight delay and the distance of your flight.


Youre entitled to the following if you fit one of the categories below: 

  1. two free phone calls, faxes or e-mails
  2. free meals and refreshments appropriate to the delay
  3. free hotel accommodation and hotel transfers if an overnight stay is required



  1. if a flight under 932 miles (for example, London to Venice) is delayed for at least two hours
  2. if a flight within the EU that is more than 932 miles (for example, London to Athens) is delayed for at least three hours
  3. if a flight that isn’t within the EU but is between 932 and 2,174 miles is delayed for at least three hours

4.if any other flight is delayed for at least four hours.

Consumer Watch Foundation

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