It’s been a year of chaos at airports so far and with the summer holidays kicking in, the situation is set to get even worse.

Airlines are cancelling flights left, right and centre. At the time of writing, the BBC reports that British Airways and Easyjet have already cut 40,000 flights from their schedules. They’re also reporting that Heathrow has asked airlines not to sell any more flight tickets for summer as the airport can’t cope with the holiday traffic. Manchester Airport’s new boss is warning passengers not to expect a great experience.

Most of the issues are caused by the industry struggling to restaff as demand rises post-pandemic.

To add insult to injury, we’re all BUSTING for a break to the sun or anywhere in fact! Most people have been making do with a staycation for the last few years.

With the cost-of-living crisis, who can afford to take a risk and pay for a holiday that might not happen?

Scottish Widows says 35% of Brits are cutting back on holiday spending due to cost-of-living concerns.

The good news is that in most cases, you’re covered. But knowing your flight rights is essential to not being palmed off by airline or holiday companies who are losing money hand over fist. Once they’ve got your money, they’re reluctant to give it back.

However, you know us: we’re all over the refunds thing!

Check out our guide to getting your hard earned cash back should the worst happen…

MY FLIGHT’S BEEN CANCELLED, WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS?

If you’re flying from a UK airport, arriving at a UK airport on a UK or EU airline, or are arriving at an EU airport on a UK airline, you’re protected by UK law.

What you’re entitled to depends on:

  1. What caused the cancellation

And

  1. How much notice you were given.

However, in simplest terms:

  • If an airline cancels your flight at any time, they must offer you an alternative flight or a refund.

You can choose which option you prefer.

If you still want to fly, your airline must offer you an alternative flight. If that doesn’t suit and another airline is travelling to your destination sooner or there is another way to get there, you have a right to book that alternative. 

TOP TIP: If you have to buy a new flight with a different airline, check the cost difference. If your new ticket is more expensive, claim the cost. If it’s cheaper, you’re better off requesting a full refund on the original ticket.

YOU MAY ALSO BE ELIGIBLE FOR COMPENSATION

If an airline cancels a flight, as well as being entitled to an alternative flight OR a full refund, you may be eligible for compensation IF:

  • Your flight was cancelled less than 14 days before departure

AND

  • The replacement flight delays your arrival by 2 hours or more

The amount of compensation depends on when the flight was cancelled, the flight distance and departure/arrival times of the rescheduled flight.

Claim directly from the airline – or check your travel insurance. It may cover you for cancellations.

WHAT IF I’M STUCK ABROAD OR AT THE AIRPORT?

If this is because of a flight cancellation, the airline must help you with:

  • Reasonable food and drink
  • A way to communicate
  • Overnight accommodation if needed
  • Transport to and from the accommodation

If you can’t contact your airline or they are unable to help at that time, you can organise these things for yourself and reclaim the costs.

KEEP YOUR RECEIPTS and only spend what is necessary.

MY FLIGHT WAS DELAYED, WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS?

If the disruption wasn’t the airline’s fault and beyond their control (‘extraordinary circumstances’ such as extreme weather or air traffic control strikes), you won’t be entitled to compensation.

In all other cases, such as a technical fault or overbooking for example, the amount you’re entitled to depends on the length of the delay and how far you were travelling:

Delay to your arrival

Flight distance

Compensation

3 hours or more

Less than 1,500km

£220

 

Between 1,500km and 3,500km

£350

4 hours or more

More than 3,500km

£520

DELAYED BY 5 HOURS OR LONGER?

You can choose not to take the flight, in which case you’re entitled to:

  • A full refund
  • A full refund for any onward or other flights on the same booking that you won’t use
  • A flight back to your airport of origin if you’re part-way through a journey.

As soon as you decide not to take the flight, tell someone from the airline.

You should get your refund within 7 days.

If you decide to continue with your journey, you’re still entitled to claim up to £520 in compensation if the delay was the airline’s fault.

MY HOLIDAY WAS CANCELLED, WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS?

This is simple: you’re legally entitled to a full refund within 14 days.

You may be offered options such as rebooking or holiday vouchers - but you don’t have to take them! If your money back is your first preference, insist on your rights.

If you booked a package holiday with an ABTA member company and your flight is cancelled, you’re entitled to an alternative flight or a full refund.

And you’re entitled to that refund regardless of whether or not the company you booked with has been refunded by other companies involved with your trip.

Check out ABTA’s excellent FAQs page for more answers to all your holiday questions.

Other travel bookings are less clear cut. For example, with a hotel or car hire booking. The basic principle is always: if the service is cancelled, you should be refunded. However, if your provider is outside the UK, where local laws may be different, there are no guarantees. As ever, it’s always good to read the small print at the time of booking.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE NOT GETTING ANYWHERE WITH YOUR TRAVEL TROUBLES…

We’re hearing lots of stories of people who are being offered vouchers instead of cash refunds, or who are at the mercy of the huge backlog of cases and not getting their money back within the deadlines – 7 days for flight refunds and 14 days for package holiday refunds.

If you’re not happy with the airlines responses or offers of compensation, find out if the airline is a member of an approved Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) body.

If they’re not, you can get in touch with the Civil Aviation Authority’s Passenger Advice and Complaints Team (PACT). 

Are you due a tax rebate?

It may also be worth checking if you’re due a tax rebate. Two out of three people who qualify for a tax refund don’t know it! And with refunds averaging around £2,500, it could help you out of a holiday from hell tight spot.

Start your claim, give us a call or request a call back today – it’s FREE to find out if you have a claim.