Ryanair is to fly 25 fewer aircraft this winter, resulting in 100,000s more passengers having their flights cancelled – and the regulator has accused the budget airline of "repeatedly misleading" passengers over their rights.
Here's a full rundown of what's happening, what your rights actually are and what you can do if you're affected by the latest wave of cancellations.
Update 5pm Fri 29 Sep: Ryanair has said it has contacted all affected customers today to let them know their entitlement – see What does Ryanair say?
Which routes are cancelled?
The airline says the reduction in aircraft will mean a number of flight and schedule changes from November 2017 to March 2018, and will affect up to one flight per airport, per day.
The following 34 routes have been suspended from November to March 2018.
|1.||Bucharest – Palermo||18.||Sofia – Castellon|
|2.||Chania – Athens||19.||Sofia – Memmingen|
|3.||Chania – Pafos||20.||Sofia – Pisa|
|4.||Chania – Thessaloniki||21.||Sofia – Stockholm (NYO)|
|5.||Cologne – Berlin (SXF)||22.||Sofia – Venice (TSF)|
|6.||Edinburgh – Szczecin||23.||Thessaloniki – Bratislava|
|7.||Glasgow – Las Palmas||24.||Thessaloniki – Paris BVA|
|8.||Hamburg – Edinburgh||25.||Thessaloniki – Warsaw (WMI)|
|9.||Hamburg – Katowice||26.||Trapani – Baden Baden|
|10.||Hamburg – Oslo (TRF)||27.||Trapani – Frankfurt (HHN)|
|11.||Hamburg – Thessaloniki||28.||Trapani – Genoa|
|12.||Hamburg – Venice (TSF)||29.||Trapani – Krakow|
|13.||London (LGW) – Belfast||30.||Trapani – Parma|
|14.||London (STN) – Edinburgh||31.||Trapani – Rome FIU|
|15.||London (STN) – Glasgow||32.||Trapani – Trieste|
|16.||Newcastle – Faro||33.||Wroclaw – Warsaw|
|17.||Newcastle – Gdansk||34.||Gdansk – Warsaw|
In addition to these route suspensions, Ryanair has announced several other schedule changes, which can be found here.
If your flight is cancelled, you're due a full refund or an alternative flight
If your flight is cancelled or changed, the airline will give you a choice of two options – regardless of the notice period you were given:
- A full refund. This includes money back for both legs if you have booked a return ticket and either of your legs are cancelled (and Ryanair has confirmed this is what it's offering).
- An alternative flight. If you still want to travel, your airline must find an alternative flight.
If your flight is cancelled, and an alternative airline can re-route you much sooner, you can ask Ryanair to move you to this flight instead – which it has agreed to do "if necessary", but there are no guarantees it will automatically offer you this.
To arrange this, Ryanair says you must contact it by calling or using its online chat tool. Here's what it now says it will offer you:
- First, the customer will be moved to the next available Ryanair flight on the same route. If this option is not available the same or next day, then;
- It will move the customer to the next available Ryanair flight from/to a suitable alternative airport/s (for example, Luton or Gatwick in the case of Stansted). If this option is not available the same or next day, then;
- It will offer customers re-accommodation on any one of its agreed 'disruption partner airlines' to their destination as follows: Easyjet, Jet2, Vueling, CityJet, Aer Lingus, Norwegian or Eurowings. If this option is not available the same or next day, then;
- It will offer the customer re-accommodation on any comparable alternative transport (another airline's flight, train, bus or car hire) with the cost of this comparable transport ticket to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Ryanair says all affected customers received an email earlier this week giving them between five weeks' and five months' notice of the changes. Due to the length of notice given for the latest wave of cancellations, it is unlikely customers will be due compensation.
If you opt for an alternative flight, Ryanair must pay for extra expenses
If you opt for an alternative flight, Ryanair is also obliged to provide care and assistance to cover any extra expenses, such as if you have to travel to a different airport to catch your flight.
Ryanair says it will reimburse any "reasonable out-of-pocket expenses", as required by the EU261 flight delay compensation law. We don't think this refers to consequential losses, such as a missed football match if you arrived late due to a cancellation, but we are urgently checking this with Ryanair.
Ideally ask Ryanair whether it has made any provisions for these before your trip, but if you do end up out of pocket, ensure you keep any receipts.
To retrospectively claim for out-of-pocket expenses, you will need to submit a EU261 expense claim form with original receipts (make sure you take a copy before sending any receipts).
Customers who were misled over their rights, and so believed they had to cover expenses such as flying with an alternative airline due to a cancellation, have also been asked to write to the airline. If you're out of pocket as a result, write to Director of Customer Services, Customer Service Department, PO Box 11451, Swords, Co Dublin, Ireland, and include as much evidence as you can.
What if I've lost out on hotels, car hire etc?
Flight cancellations or delays can have a number of knock-on costs, such as non-refundable hotels, car hire or other parts of your holiday.
It's worth checking if you're covered on your travel insurance. But when Ryanair cancelled 2,100 flights earlier this month, we spoke to several major travel insurers and most told us you're unlikely to be able to claim. Most insurers said that they would not be paying out because Ryanair was directly to blame for the disruption, and this is unlikely to be any different.
- Aviva, Allianz, Churchill, Direct Line and Holidaysafe told us that no policyholders will be able to claim for consequential losses as a result of Ryanair's cancellations earlier this month.
- Axa told us policyholders should first speak to Ryanair, but otherwise call the insurer to check if their policy offers "travel disruption cover".
- Liverpool Victoria said its premium policy does cover consequential losses.
Remember, if you're set to lose non-refundable hotel bookings, car hire or more, it's worth speaking to the firms you've booked with to explain the situation. Even if you're not entitled to a refund, they may offer you something or allow you to move your booking.
We've also previously heard of a small number of cases where people have successfully claimed from their credit card companies for consequential losses using the Section 75 law, which protects purchases made on plastic of between £100 and £30,000. It's likely these claims would be decided on a case-by-case basis. See our Section 75 guide for full information.
Regulator makes demands of Ryanair
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced on Wednesday that it was taking enforcement action against the airline following the fresh cancellation chaos, which will affect flights running between November 2017 and March 2018, and comes after an estimated 315,000 passengers had flights cancelled up to the end of October.
The regulator says Ryanair has repeatedly failed to tell passengers their full rights under EU flight delay law, in particular that they may be entitled to a re-route on another airline and that Ryanair is obliged to provide care and assistance when offering alternative flights.
The CAA then followed this up with another letter on Thursday, in which it told Ryanair it needed to re-contact customers affected by this set of cancellations, and the previous set announced earlier this month to provide them with "accurate and comprehensive" information on their rights. This includes offering customers a flight on an airline other than Ryanair if necessary.
On Friday at 5pm, the CAA said it had received correspondence from Ryanair and was "reviewing" whether its requirements had been met.
Speaking about the cancellations on Wednesday, Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary said: "We sincerely apologise to those customers who have been affected by last week's flight cancellations, or these sensible schedule changes announced today. While over 99% of our 129 million customers will not have been affected by any cancellations or disruptions, we deeply regret any doubt we caused existing customers last week about Ryanair's reliability, or the risk of further cancellations."