If an airline cancels my flight in advance, what compensation am I entitled to?
Q&A travel unravelled
Wednesday 14 December 2011
Q. I was booked to fly from Liverpool to Riga on Wednesday 18 January, but Ryanair has told me the flight has been cancelled. I have been offered a refund or a flight two days earlier. Airlines seem to have the ability to alter schedules without compensating the passenger for consequential losses. As the recession bites I can see schedules being revised weekly in order to reduce loss-making flights, leaving passengers with an array of problems. Dr John Holt, East Yorkshire
A. If a passenger cancels a flight, they lose most or all of their money. However unfair it may seem, if the tables are turned and the airline cancels a trip, you have few rights. So long as the carrier gives you at least a fortnight's warning, you can expect nothing beyond the choice of an alternative flight or a refund of your fare. The EU261 passengers' rights compensation – providing €250 for a cancellation – does not apply if you are told two weeks ahead or more.
Ryanair is by no means alone in making tactical cancellations: BA, easyJet and Virgin Atlantic have all been known to cancel midweek departures in winter. If the ticket revenue is predicted to fall well short of the costs of a there-and-back flight, considerations of cash may take precedence over customer service.
The practice makes it all the more valuable to book a package holiday – if the airline cancels your flight, the tour operator has to arrange an acceptable alternative or give you a full refund on the whole trip. But if you have booked a room separately, the proprietor may still charge you.
Q. What do you know about the closure of Bergerac airport this winter? Christine Bolton, Tooting, London
A. The handy little airport, about 40 miles inland from Bordeaux, is closing from 9 January to 23 March 2012 for runway resurfacing. Because most flights are summer-only, the only affected flights from the UK are on Ryanair from Stansted and Flybe from Southampton – both of which will be suspended, rather than diverted. The main alternative is Bordeaux, though the airport is inconveniently located on the wrong side of the city to the Dordogne valley. Another option is Brive, served from London City by Air France.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
George Galloway condemns 'racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag' Charlie Hebdo at freedom of speech rally
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This airport parking organisation are looking...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Do you enjoy bus driving and are looking for ...
£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - Y...