What are your rights if you flight is cancelled or delayed?

Easter travel chaos

Easter travel chaos is set to continue into the Bank holiday weekend as thousands of passengers face long queues and cancellations. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images

Britain’s Easter travel chaos looks set to worsen after P&O Ferries announced it was cancelling all passenger services between Dover and Calais over the Bank Holiday weekend.

The company, which has suspended its sailing at the end of March after the operator’s controversial decision to sack 800 seafarers without notice, had hoped to resume service in time for Good Friday.

Meanwhile, the mayhem continues at airports as major airlines cancel more flights ahead of the long weekend. Flag carrier British Airways has grounded 12 domestic flights and 40 international trips to and from Heathrow on Thursday. Budget airline easyJet (EZJ.L) axed at least 30 flights to and from Gatwick.

Road passengers have also been warned to travel on Thursday or early Saturday to beat Bank holiday queues.

As the chaos could potentially derail your Easter getaway, here are your rights as a customer:

Your rights if a flight is cancelled or delayed

After Brexit, the government brought the EU’s EU261 scheme into British law. This sets out the compensation passengers are entitled to if a flight is cancelled or delayed by more than three hours. Depending on how far your trip is, you’ll receive between £220 ($289) to £520.

However, this may change soon and consumers could be paid less compensation and it may even be scrapped for domestic routes as the government is mulling plans it describes as “bolstering airline passenger protections and rights, made possible thanks to the UK’s departure from the EU”.

Read more: UK airline industry warned over more Easter travel disruption

Travellers have the right to be rerouted or refunded, except during so-called “extraordinary circumstances”, such as bad weather or an airline traffic control strike.

Airlines are legally required to find you a replacement flight that will get you to your destination as soon as possible after your original arrival time. If a carrier can rebook you on one of its flights departing the same day, it can do so, as opposed to buying you a ticket on another airline. You are also entitled to a full ticket refund for the price of the original flight.

These rules do not apply if you were notified of the cancellation or delay at least two weeks prior to your departure.

British Airways and easyJet

British Airways and easyJet have cancelled hundreds of flights over the last few days. Photo: Horacio Villalobos#Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

What if you are stuck at the airport overnight?

If you are stranded overnight at an airport due to cancellations, airlines are obliged to book and pay for a hotel stay and cover your ground transportation, like a taxi to and from the hotel where proportionate.

British Airways said: “If you would prefer to book your own accommodation, we can guarantee we will cover it to make sure you’re not out of pocket.” However, it states it will cover “hotel rooms up to £200 (based on two people sharing) without question”, which may mean you won’t get covered if the room costs more than that.

EasyJet said: “If your flight is cancelled, we can offer you a hotel room for the night, if you need one. Where eligible you can request a room after you’ve transferred onto a new flight on our app or in Manage Bookings.” The airline prefers to arrange a room for its passengers in the first instance.

Read more: Could UK’s rapid COVID cases ruin Easter travel plans as easyJet and BA cancel flights?

Are food and drinks covered?

The cancelling airline is responsible for providing meals in reasonable proportion to the waiting time once your appointed departure time has come and gone. It may offer vouchers to buy food and drink, alcohol is never included in this.

If the carrier includes meals as part of your hotel package, no additional expenses for meals will be paid for.

Watch: Airline refunds: What are your rights as a consumer?’

What if your ferry is delayed or cancelled?

Ferry operators should offer a choice of an alternative ferry or a full refund if they cancel your service.

According to the Travel Association, where a sailing is cancelled and an overnight stay becomes necessary, operators should offer you accommodation free of charge, if possible. This can be on board the ferry, or ashore.

Those travelling by sea face additional disruption ahead of the busiest weekend of the year. A fully-booked DFDS Ferries announced it would no longer honour P&O tickets from Dover to France. The operator had been accepting P&O passengers since its rival suspended its Channel crossings.

Read more: Boris Johnson says P&O sackings may amount to breaking the law

Are train delays and cancellations covered?

While every train operator has its own refund policy, there is a “delay repay” scheme through which customers can claim compensation.

Train users are legally entitled to 50% of their ticket price if they arrive at their destination between 30 minutes and an hour late. If your train is delayed or cancelled and you no longer wish to travel, you can usually ask for a full refund, this also applies if your service is delayed or cancelled by an hour.

London tube users have been warned of widespread closure during Easter bank holiday weekend.

Transport of London (TfL) said that most of the central section of the Northern line will be shut on Good Friday and Saturday 16 April, with no service on the entire length of the Hammersmith and City line during the four-day holiday period due to maintenance. Travellers to Heathrow were advised to use the TfL Rail or Heathrow Express train services in and out of Paddington station.

TfL said: “if the delay happened in the last 28 days and you were delayed for 30 minutes or more, you can claim a refund with contactless and Oyster account.”

London tube users have been warned of widespread closure during Easter bank holiday weekend. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images

London tube users have been warned of widespread closure during Easter bank holiday weekend. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images

Will airports or airlines compensate me if i miss my flight because of long queues?

Currently its highly unlikely that airport operators will cover passengers who miss their flight due to long waiting times or queues.

What about my insurance provider?

Insurance policies often include cover for missed departures, but its unclear if they would cover incidents like the recent airport, ferry and public transport chaos across the nation.

They generally protect travellers in the event they miss the departure of their international flight, ferry, cruise ship or train because of a strike or other public transport disruption.

Watch: Customers face travel chaos at UK airports as staff shortages take toll

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