Ryanair strikes: how do I know if my flight is affected and can I claim compensation?

Hugh Morris
Ryanair suffered from strike action last year, too - 2003 Getty Images

Ryanair passengers across the UK are on tenter hooks as they await news of whether their flight will be disrupted by the industrial action of the carrier's British pilots. 

The low-cost airline was able to head off a walkout by its Irish pilots, but members of the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) are conducting a two-day strike on Thursday and Friday. Another action is planned for September 2-4, too. 

Ryanair has told customers that all flights are due to operate as scheduled and that any passengers affected will receive an email and text message with the details. It said, however, some delays or "flight changes" are possible, but that passengers should arrive at their departure airport as normal. 

On Wednesday Travellers rounded on the carrier for not being up front about any potential disruption, with the strike due to begin one minute after midnight on Thursday.

“It is now less than 24 hours before we fly and we don’t know if we are or not. Disgraceful,” said Steffi Sawyers, due to fly to Ibiza on Thursday morning. Another passenger, Charlotte Jones, bemoaned a “shocking lack of communication”.

A spokesperson for London Stansted, where Ryanair is based in the UK, said the airline had contingency plans in place and “expects to operate a full flight schedule” on Thursday and Friday.

The Irish walkout by union Forza would have involved 180 pilots in the country, while the size of the Balpa walkout has not been specified. Balpa general secretary Brian Strutton said it was wrong the airline was continuing to sell flights despite the potential action. 

Ryanair is also preparing for additional strike action from cabin crew in Spain, who have announced 10 strike days throughout September. 

The potential walk-outs follow a series of strikes by staff of the Irish carrier in autumn last year, during which around 250 flights were cancelled. The airline also suffered industrial action last August.  

Am I entitled to a refund if my flight is cancelled?

Yes. European Union regulations require airlines to offer you either a full refund of the unused parts of your tickets, or to re-route you to your destination, as soon as possible. It may also allow you to rebook your flights for a later date at no extra cost.

It is worth noting that should you still want to travel after your flight has been cancelled, airlines are obliged to help you to your destination as soon as you want, even if that means being booked onto another carrier.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says: “Although most airlines will book you onto another of their flights to the same destination, if an alternative airline is flying there significantly sooner then you may have the right to be booked onto that flight instead. You can discuss this with your airline.”

Will I get compensation?

Unlikely. Airlines are not liable to pay the additional cash compensation set out by EU regulations because they would not consider themselves directly responsible for the disruption.

If you receive less than seven days’ notice of a cancellation, you may be able to claim on the timings of the alternative flight.

The CAA says: "If your new flight arrives more than two hours after the scheduled time of your original flight, you can claim €250 – no matter what time it departs.

Otherwise, if your new flight arrives earlier than two hours after the scheduled time of your original flight, you can claim €125."

See here for our full guide to flight delay and cancellation compensation

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