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Ryanair pilots set to stage two strikes this summer – your rights

Ryanair pilots set to stage two strikes this summer – your rights

Pilots of budget airline Ryanair have voted in favour of industrial action, and are set to strike later this summer.

Strikes are due to be held from 22 to 23 August and 2 to 4 September, after members of the British Airline Pilots' Association (BALPA) voted to back industrial action.

At the moment it's not clear how the result will affect flights, but if you're worried about any bookings, regularly check your Ryanair account for any updates and ensure it has your up-to-date contact details.

If you're disrupted by the strike action, you may be entitled to compensation, although there have been issues with travellers claiming money back from Ryanair in the past.

For full details on your rights, see our Flight Delays guide.

If my flight's delayed or cancelled, what will I be entitled to?

Under EU flight delay law, you have rights if your flight is cancelled or delayed. For these rules to apply, the flight must have left from an EU airport, or you must have arrived at an EU airport on an EU airline.

  • If your flight is cancelled, you'll be entitled to a refund or alternative flight (possibly on another airline), no matter when the cancellation takes place.

    Typically, a strike by an airline's pilots is not considered an extraordinary circumstance, and so could mean you're also entitled to compensation of up to £370/person depending on the timing of the alternative flight you're offered, and if the cancellation takes place less than two weeks before the flight. For full details, see Flight Cancellations.

  • If your flight is delayed by more than three hours, you could also be entitled to compensation as typically a strike by an airline's pilots is not considered an extraordinary circumstance. How much you'd be owed depends on how long a delay is. For full details, see our Flight Delays guide.

However, it's worth noting that Ryanair has refused to pay strike compensation in the past, and has faced enforcement action as a result of this.

If my holiday is disrupted, will my travel insurer cover me?

If your flight is cancelled, you'll be refunded, but if you've booked extra holiday elements – such as hotels or car hire – that you wouldn't be able to use because of the flight cancellation, you would not automatically get the refund directly from the airline.

Initially, you should check if you have free cancellation on any bookings, or if the provider is able to do anything to help.

Whether these costs – often known as 'consequential losses' – would be covered by your travel insurance does vary between policies, so you should of course check the wording of your documents.

If your policy does cover you, the Association of British Insurers says that generally, if you booked when the intention to strike was known but the precise dates of any industrial action were not, then the policy should continue to cover you as normal.

However, if the days of the strikes are confirmed before you book the holiday or the insurance, then the policy would likely not cover you for any strike-related claim.

What do Ryanair and BALPA say?

A Ryanair spokesperson said: "BALPA have no mandate to disrupt our customers' holidays and flights, particularly at a time when UK pilots are facing job losses due to the Boeing Max delivery delays, and the threat of a no-deal Brexit on 31 October."

They added: "We have written to BALPA asking them to return to talks, and we apologise sincerely to customers for any uncertainty that BALPA's ballot may cause them.

"We hope BALPA will now work with Ryanair to minimise job losses instead of undertaking ill-judged and ill-timed industrial action."

BALPA's general secretary Brian Strutton said: "We have had no formal offer from Ryanair and it is imperative that we resolve this dispute urgently to avoid strike action. No pilot wants to spoil the public's travel plans, but at the moment it seems we have no choice."

Additional reporting by the Press Association.