As we know the travel chaos for holidaymakers this summer is immense and there have been mass delays and cancellations as a result of staff shortages. So what is the advice for passengers? And what are your rights? In this article we explore the difficulties that passengers may face and answer those difficult questions.
Is Compensation Given?
Many people who have flights cancelled will be wondering whether they would receive compensation. According to the Civil Aviation Authority, as stated in The Sunday Times, this may not happen. This is because many may classify such an experience as an extraordinary experience. If an airport cancels the flight and does not give the airlines sufficient notice, then they are not required to pay. It may well be however that if you have insurance cover, the insurance company may compensate you for any additional costs incurred due to the cancellation. However, in many situations, the airline is unlikely to pay.
You may be entitled to compensation if your flight arrives more than three hours late at its destination. However, no payment will be made if it was not the airline’s fault and the disruption was caused by extreme weather, air traffic control strikes or extraordinary circumstances. In addition, overseas carriers may not be bound by these rules when landing in the UK.
In terms of how much compensation is given, it depends on the length of the flight. For short-haul flights of under 1500km, the maximum is £220. For medium-haul of up to 3500km (for example from London to Marrakech in Morocco), it is £350. For long haul flights of over 3500km (for example to New York) the maximum compensation is £520.
If a flight is cancelled, however, even though you may not be entitled to compensation, you are entitled to be booked onto another flight on the same day. If an airline is unable to find you a seat on one of its own aircraft it has a duty to find you one on another airline. If you have been delayed for more than 5 hours and no longer wish to travel you are entitled to a refund.
Can You Reduce Delays At The Airport?
Another problem faced by holidaymakers will be delays at check-in. How do passengers deal with this? Well, according to the GMB union which represents baggage handlers, the advice to passengers is not to bring any baggage to check into the hold but to carry hand luggage only. However, the overall picture is mixed. This is because as Jonathan Hinkles, Chief Executive of Loganair, has suggested, if everyone were to do this then there would be another “pressure point” at airport security as everyone took time to pass their hand luggage through security.
As one can see, passengers are going to have to be careful from booking flights to the moment of checking in for them, as flight operators can cancel flights and in addition to this blame the situation on extraordinary circumstances. Because of this, customers should be aware of the fact that this is a difficult time for the aviation industry and try to avoid booking if possible. However, if a cancellation is made then airlines have a duty to put you on an alternative flight the same day. It seems that this is the only obligation they have and the risk is that they could delay to the point of travel not being worthwhile.
To conclude therefore taking flights now is likely to be unpredictable. However later on, as we already know, as airlines and airports get to grips with this issue, the situation is likely to improve. So because of this, we would urge passengers to be patient before booking flights until the travel situation becomes better.