What to do if your Ryanair flight is impacted by strikes

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Pilots at Ryanair intend to go on strike this week, meaning many travellers could see their holiday and travel plans disrupted.

The strikes are set to ahead following a court ruling, meaning many holidaymakers face being out of pocket and unable to reach their desired destination.

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary

The proposed strike takes place on the 22-23 August, and a second round on the 2-4 September, a total of five days.

Fiona Macrae, from the consumer awareness initiative travelinsuranceexplained.co.uk, gives you the information you need to know about strikes and what to do if your holiday is affected:

What should I do if my flight is delayed?

Usually if take-off happens two hours or more after the scheduled departure time. If the delay lasts five hours or more, then passengers can ask for the reimbursement of their full ticket price (provided they do this within seven days), regardless of the flight distance.

Ryanair planes at Leeds Bradford Airport

Ryanair planes at Leeds Bradford Airport

The thing to bear in mind here is that Regulation 261/2004 (which emanated from Brussels and is designed to provide compensation to passengers for delayed and cancelled flights in certain circumstances) only applies if you are flying with an EU company or departing from an EU airport.

If you are travelling to a non-EU country the airline must refund your ticket or try to provide an alternative flight, it does not have to provide refreshments but in this instance travel insurance would step in.

What happens if Ryanair cancels the flight?

Airlines have to offer a choice of either a refund of the ticket or an alternative flight. They will also have to pay some compensation.

What should you do if your flight is cancelled?

The first thing you should do is contact Ryanair who have promised to refund passengers.

However under European Legislation there is also a ‘re-route’ option which means that if your original airline cannot get you to your destination on your booked date, or the day after then you can demand to be booked with a rival airline (subject to seat availability) – your original airline is legally responsible for booking replacement flights and should bear the cost accordingly.

If the airline advises you to make your own arrangements then provided you can prove that you have taken the only available alternative, you should be able to reclaim the costs from the original airline.

What can you do if you have incurred additional costs due to the flight cancellation?

Unfortunately travel insurance policies do not cover the cost of a replacement flight; you should therefore make use of the ‘re-route’ option mentioned above.

Similarly, any additional costs to enable you to continue your holiday would not be covered; for example, if you had pre-paid your airport parking but now have to travel from a different airport, or if your flight arrangements mean that you now have to stay in a hotel overnight before catching your new flight.

But will my travel insurer pay up?

Generally, if there is a strike which results in the cancellation of flights then the airline will offer alternative flights or a refund.

There are some travel insurance policies that offer cancellation cover for ‘any cause beyond your control’, though this cover isn’t standard across all travel insurance policies.

If you have this clause in your policy you may be able to cancel your holiday and claim back any pre-paid expenses, such as excursions, car hire costs or accommodation fees that you cannot get back from anywhere else. However, if you buy a policy after a strike has been announced then you may not be covered as it is a ‘known event’.

Fiona Macrae from travelinsuranceexplained.co.uk said: “It is unfortunate that possibly hundreds of thousands of people may have their travel plans halted by the news that Ryanair is threatening a strike from the 22nd August and in early September.

“We always advise people travelling to buy a travel insurance policy that provides cancellation cover for ‘any cause beyond your control’; this would provide cancellation cover for those who are impacted by the strikes, provided the event hasn’t been announced before the policy is purchased.

“However, with so few travel insurance policies offering cancellation cover for ‘any cause beyond your reasonable control’, it highlights the importance of checking your policy carefully before you purchase to ensure that you are protected if you are caught up in situations like this.”