Airline passengers are facing the prospect of flight disruptions to and from airports in Ireland, the UK and Spain in the coming weeks as pilots and cabin crew with Ryanair, and possibly British Airways pilots, plan work stoppages over various grievances they have with their employers.
Some directly employed Ryanair pilots in Ireland, who are members of IALPA – a branch of the Forsa trade union – backed up last week in industrial action over a dispute over pay, working conditions and related issues.
When will the strikes be held?
Irish and British-based Ryanair pilots, who are members of IALPA and BALPA respectively, have voted to hold two days of strike action on 22 and 23 August.
Ryanair is currently attempting to get a court injunction to stop the strike by going through IALPA pilots.
The BALPA pilots voted for an additional three days in action in September.
Do we know what flights are affected?
Not yet. Not all Ryanair pilots are members of IALPA or BALPA so the airline will try to minimize the effects of strike by drafting replacement pilots.
In the event of strikes going forward, it is highly likely that some flights will be canceled, and passengers who have booked flights should check with the airline. Ryanair typically gives passengers two or three days' notice if their flight is canceled.
What are my rights if my flight is canceled?
Under EU Regulation (EC) No 261/2004, if your flight is canceled, you are entitled to either a full refund of the airline ticket within seven days, a return flight to the first point of departure or a substitute flight. Any additional travel costs from your destination to a nearby airport with the airline.
Are food and accommodation costs included as part of the compensation?
If the delay is longer than two hours duration, depending on the distance of the flight, the airline must cover the costs of meals and refreshments plus two free phone calls and e-mails.
If the flight is delayed until the next day, you are entitled to stay and transport to the place of accommodation. If the delay is five hours or longer, you are entitled to a full refund of the ticket within a week or a return flight to the original departure point.
What if I do not get what I believe I was entitled to?
You should make your own arrangements – maintain costs 'within reason' – and keep all of your receipts.
Upon your return, send copies of your receipts to the airline and include booking reference numbers, the names of all passengers and the flight details of canceled and replacement flights.
If you are not responding to the airline, you can escalate the complaint by contacting the National Enforcement Body, which, for Irish passengers, is the Commission for Aviation Regulation.
Am I entitled to compensation from the airline for inconvenience, above the allowable expenses?
Airlines are bound to pay EU compensation between € 250 and € 600 if they cancel your flight without 14 days' notice, unless it is flying to "extraordinary circumstances." The airlines will claim that a strike is beyond its control. In reality, you will end up going to court to try to get your compensation entitlement.
Will travel insurance cover the cost of flights canceled because of a strike?
Check the terms and conditions of your travel policy.
It is highly unlikely to be covered as most policies will have a clear excluding strike action as a reason for payment.
However, it may cover certain items of cost if you're left out of pocket as a result of the action, so it is always a good idea to keep your receipts.
And do not tempt to take out a policy now in case you are impacted as the insurance company will not pay out if the policy has been purchased after the strike action has been announced.