Q&A: As the Ryanair pilot strike looms, what passenger rights do you have?

By Joe Leogue

With Ryanair pilots set to strike this day next week, thousands booked on flights with the airline are understandably anxious to see if their travel plans are affected.

Some 100 Irish pilots are set to strike over what their union says is Ryanair’s failure to engage on issues around transparency and seniority.

The airline has said the strike is unnecessary and that it has attempted to meet with the union on the issues, but to no avail.

Ryanair has also said the strike won’t affect 93% of its flights — but that is cold comfort for those on the 7% of flights that could be hit.

Responding to the news of the strike, the Commission for Aviation Regulation has moved to reassure the public that passenger rights are protected under European legislation and that it expects Ryanair “will send all affected passengers information about their rights and entitlements”.

Here are a few passenger rights explained:

Q: What happens if my flight is cancelled?

A: If your flight is cancelled because of the strike, or any other reason, Ryanair must offer you one of three options.

They must offer you either a refund or to reroute you to your destination.

Passengers can choose whether the airline will

reroute them as soon as possible or at a later date at their convenience.

Q. What happens if I choose to get rerouted as soon as possible, but I’ve time to kill until the next available flight?

A. If you choose to be rerouted as soon as possible, Ryanair must provide you with care and assistance while you wait for the alternative flight.

Q. What care and assistance?

A. The Commission for Aviation Regulation says Ryanair must provide you with meals and refreshments “in reasonable relation to the waiting time”, as well as hotel accommodation where an overnight stay becomes necessary, transport between the airport and place of accommodation, and two free telephone calls/access to email.

Q. What happens if I agree to be rerouted, but Ryanair doesn’t provide that care and assistance?

A. Two words: keep receipts.

If you are rerouted to the next available flight, but are not given a meal, hotel accommodation, or transport you can make your own arrangements and claim the expense back from Ryanair.

This, however, doesn’t mean a limo to a five-star hotel.

The arrangements must be “reasonably” costed, and copies of the receipts for these should then be submitted to Ryanair.

Q. My flight wasn’t cancelled because of the strike, but it had a knock-on impact and we were delayed — do I have any rights?

A. The Commission for Aviation Regulation says if your flight is delayed for more than two hours, Ryanair must provide you with care and assistance.

If your flight is delayed by more than five hours, Ryanair must offer you the choice between continuing your journey and a refund of the cost of your ticket. However, you waive the right to a refund if you take the flight, no matter how long it is delayed.

Q. Am I entitled to compensation beyond a refund?

A. If your flight is cancelled or delayed by more than three hours, and it was not caused by extraordinary circumstances, then there is a good chance you are entitled to compensation. It will depend on the distance the flight is due to travel.

There are various factors that come into play when determining the entitlement to compensation, and more information is available on the Commission for Aviation Regulation’s website, flightrights.ie.

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