Ryanair cancellations: These are your rights

Ryanair has been forced to cancel more flights
Ryanair has been forced to cancel more flights
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Ryanair cancelled more than 160 flights this weekend, with roughly the same number failing to operate over the next three days as a result of staff holiday anomalies.

Cancellations up to and including Wednesday 20 September are listed on Ryanair’s website, however there will be further cancellations over the coming six weeks, with more announced on Thursday September 21.

The airline is trying to clear a backlog of pilots’ holidays that has resulted in under-staffing and reduced punctuality.

To go or not to go The Irish no-frills airline is offering passengers – estimated to be as many as 400,000 – affected by the disruption the option of a full refund or a change of booking, subject to availability.

However, only those whose flights have been confirmed as cancelled have these options.

READ MORE: First batch of cancelled Ryanair flights revealed

Presently, only a few days’ notice has been given to those affected. If you are booked to travel on Ryanair between Thursday 21 September and 31 October, you are in the unfortunate position of having to wait and see whether your flight will operate before deciding which course of action to take.

Re-routing options

A change of booking is highly unlikely to get you to where you need to be at the same time as your original booking. However, the rules of re-routing is somewhat of a grey area. The next available flight may well be in several days’ time. EU Regulation 261, which governs the rules for compensation and assistance for flight delays and cancellations on flights on EU-based airlines or flights departing from within the EU, states that “re-routing should be offered at no additional cost to the passenger, even where passengers are re-routed with another air carrier or on a different transport mode or in a higher class or at a higher fare than the one paid for the original service.”

However, the transport conditions can be decided on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, if Ryanair offers you the option of changing to a flight in several days’ time and you’re unhappy with the timings, you could take a chance by re-booking yourself on a rival carrier and reclaiming the cost, but there’s no guarantee you’ll get your money back. The airline is only obliged to re-book you at “the earliest opportunity.”

Claiming compensation

What Ryanair’s cancellation holding page makes less clear is passengers’ rights to compensation when their flight has been cancelled. Under EU/261 regulations, the airline is obliged to offer either €250 or €400 cash compensation, depending on the distance of the flight cancelled (up to 1,500km and 3,500km respectively).

READ MORE: Ryanair calls on UK airports to enforce two-drink limit

This is in addition to a refund or re-booking, as long as the re-booked flight arrives more than two hours after the scheduled time of arrival of the original flight (or more than four hours if the airline gives more than a week’s notice). In addition, it must provide reasonable meals and refreshments while you wait for re-routed flights, as well as hotel accommodation if you are delayed by one night or more, as well as transport between the airport and hotel. If this isn’t offered immediately, you should keep all receipts and submit a claim.

However, bear in mind that with claims possibly running into the tens, if not hundreds of thousands, there is likely to be a backlog.