Flybe collapse: What does it mean for passengers?

The online travel agent Opodo has told passengers who are due to travel imminently they will not be offered an alternative flight or an immediate refund

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Thursday 05 March 2020 08:12
Flybe future uncertain

The failure of Europe’s biggest regional airline has wrecked the travel plans of hundreds of thousands of passengers. These are the key questions and answers.

I have a Flybe flight booking. Will it take off?

Almost certainly not. The airline’s 68 aircraft have been grounded and the entire schedule of Flybe and its partner, Stobart Air, has been cancelled. However, there are a few flights that are Flybe-branded but operated by other airlines: Blue Islands, Eastern Airways and Loganair. These should fly normally. Your booking should say if the “operating carrier” is an airline other than Flybe.

I am stranded, having flown out on Flybe. Will a plane be coming to get me?

No. Unlike the collapses of Monarch and Thomas Cook, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is not setting up a shadow airline. The nature of Flybe’s network means that there are far fewer passengers stranded abroad, and those that are affected are mainly in locations such as Amsterdam, Dusseldorf and Paris from which there are plenty of alternative routes home.

The biggest problems are likely to be faced by passengers on the dozen links from George Best Belfast City to airports in England, Wales and Scotland. Most of the routes were exclusive to Flybe, and there are few alternative flights or ferry options.

I need to reach my destination today!

If you are within mainland Britain, then you are in luck: Britain’s train operators have all agreed to carry Flybe passengers on an appropriate route free of charge. Some say you should show your boarding pass/confirmation at the ticket office and get a paper ticket, others that you just carry proof on your journey. The same offer applies to Flybe staff on production of their ID.

I have yet to travel. Is a ‘rescue fare’ going to rescue me?

Possibly. Traditionally, airlines move in after the collapse of a rival, and offer discount deals to dispossessed travellers. While there is very little direct route overlap from easyJet and Ryanair, you can (for example) ask for a cheap Bristol-Edinburgh ticket on easyJet to replace a flight from Cardiff or Exeter to the Scottish capital.

After Flybe collapsed, easyJet was first with an offer for Flybe customers up until the end of May: ”A fare of £65 (€72) including a 15kg hold bag will be available on presentation of their original Flybe booking reference.”

Ryanair is offering fares “from £19.99” on five routes: Liverpool-Knock, Bournemouth-Dublin, Belfast-Stansted, Bristol-Dublin​ and Belfast-Manchester.

Possibly more useful is the deal from British Airways, which applies on a number of Anglo-Scottish routes: £50 plus taxes, fees and charges. This includes a checked-in bag of up to 23kg. “We’ll bring home any stranded members of Flybe staff for free,” adds BA.

How do I get my money back or switch to another airline?

If you booked directly with Flybe with a credit or debit card, contact the card issuer (usually simply by dialling the number on the back of the card).

For tickets costing £100 or more, bought by credit card, you should be able to reclaim the cash under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.

If you paid by debit or charge card, or paid less than £100 with a credit card, contact your card issuer for advice as you may be able to make a claim under their charge back rules.

Customers who used PayPal should contact that company.

Passengers who booked through a travel agent should contact them to secure either an alternative flight or a refund. Be warned that if you used an online travel agent with a questionable reputation, this could be struggle.

Opodo has told passengers who are due to travel imminently: “No alternative flight or immediate refund can be offered.”

If the Flybe flight forms part of a package holiday (with accommodation included and bought in a single transaction), it is the tour operator’s problem to find you a suitable alternative flight.

In the unlikely and unfortunate event that you bought a flight direct with Flybe with cash, cheque or vouchers, you are an unsecured creditor and are unlikely to recover more than a tiny fraction of your outlay.

What about the extra costs for my journey?

If you purchased travel insurance that includes cover for scheduled airline failure (known as Safi), contact your insurer – it may well be that they will meet the bill.

I have a flight booking with another airline that appears to be operated by Flybe. What can I do?

Flybe was very active in “codesharing” – allowing other airlines to attach their own flight numbers. So, for example, Flybe BE101 from Birmingham to Amsterdam was also known as Singapore Airlines SQ2449. In such circumstances you should assume your flight is not going, and talk to the airline that was codesharing with Flybe.

They should find an alternative – in that example, using KLM on the short hop to the Dutch capital. Or, from Manchester to Paris, Air France should be able to transfer passengers booked with an AF code on a Flybe flight to one of the French airline’s alternative services between the two cities.

I have a claim against Flybe for a delayed or cancelled flight. Who will pay the compensation I am due?

No one. You are an unsecured creditor.

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