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Unless you stay clear of television, radio and newspapers, you’ll have heard about how Ryanair has announced plans to cancel hundreds of thousands of flights.  This equates to between 40 and 50 flights every day, up until the end of October.

The reason for this, according to Ryanair, is inadequate pilot rostering, which has meant that there are not enough pilots available to captain all of Ryanair’s flights.

Speculation from the media however, suggests that Ryanair does not have enough pilots because there is a shortage of them, rather than an error in rostering.  Another airline, Norwegian Air, is quoted in an article by The Guardian as saying that 140 pilots joined them from Ryanair this year alone.

Whatever its reasons, The Guardian reports that Ryanair’s chief executive Michael O’Leary is now offering pilots a one-off tax-free bonus of up to £12,000 – payable in November 2018 – in return for not taking their holiday allowance, in order to fly its planes instead.

A Ryanair customer’s view

Understandably, Ryanair customers all over the UK are in uproar after their flights have been cancelled at extremely short notice.  I am one of those customers, so I can understand how they’re feeling.  It’s disappointing to have your holiday cancelled, but on top of that whilst Ryanair is offering some level of compensation and in some cases alternative flights, there is currently nothing on offer for hotels or excursions that have had to be cancelled, as a result of their cancelled flights.

What do you do if your flight is cancelled?

Ryanair’s website states that customers have two choices if their flight is cancelled.  They can either change their cancelled flight for free, or apply for a refund.  It also only states that it will contact its customers ‘as soon as possible’ by email and text message, if their flight is cancelled.

In relation to services such as transfers, parking and hire cars, which have been booked through Ryanair, its guidance just says to contact providers directly.

Is there anything that passengers can do?

What to do if your flight has not been re-routed

In accordance with EU law, an EU airline must offer passengers one of two options if their cancelled flight was short haul (up to £1,500 KM) either:

  • A full refund for the flight; or
  • An alternative flight.

There is also the possibility of additional compensation although the EU rules state that if you have accepted a refund or rebooked for a later date the airline has no further obligation to provide assistance.

If you have been given less than 7 days’ notice of the flight’s cancellation you could get up to £220 per person in compensation. For a long haul cancelled flight you may be entitled to up to £353 in compensation.

If you think you’re entitled to compensation you can make a claim directly through Ryanair’s website.

Claiming for accommodation

If your Ryanair return flight has been cancelled and you’re left stranded without a way home, compensation for necessary food and drink (not including alcohol) as well as hotel accommodation when you to have to stay overnight before an alternative flight, can be arranged.  To obtain compensation in this case, you will have to pay for this yourself and then claim the money back from Ryanair – so keep the receipts!

Claiming for hotels, car hire and excursions

If you’ve booked anything from a hotel to a wedding venue which has had to be cancelled as a result of your Ryanair flight cancellation, the only hope of compensation for this will be through your travel insurance.  This will vary depending on your provider and the type of insurance you signed up for, before booking your flight.

Can cancelled passengers sue Ryanair?

When it comes to taking Ryanair to court to sue them for losses, as Ryanair is an Irish company, it is difficult (but not necessarily impossible, depending on your circumstances) to fight a case that has to be heard in Irish courts.  Other than revelling in the fact that Ryanair’s share prices are now fluctuating, having reportedly dropped by 3% on Monday morning, there isn’t a lot more that most Ryanair passengers can do.

About the author

Helena Taylor is a solicitor specialising in dispute resolution for businesses and individuals, and is based at Bray & Bray’s head office in Leicester.  To get in touch with Helena, call 0116 254 8871 or you can email her at hstaylor@braybray.co.uk