MSE News

Martin Lewis: Flight cancelled in the last few weeks? You're likely due £100s in compensation on top of a refund or new flight

British Airways and Easyjet cancel more flights due to staff Covid-19 sickness

MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis is alerting customers of British Airways, Easyjet, Ryanair and others who've recently had, or will face, cancellations that they may be entitled to claim £100s per person in compensation on top of refunds and a new flight.

Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: "Many flights were cancelled before, during and after the Easter break and the disruption to travel is likely to continue for many months.

"While firms are being mostly proactive about the fact you are due a choice of an alternative flight or a cash refund, and allow you to select this via their websites, I'm not seeing many mentions that you likely have far stronger rights than that.

"Under EU regulation 261/2004, which since Brexit has also been adopted into UK law…

"If you are on a flight leaving the UK/EU or returning to it (then it must also be an EU/UK airline), and the flight is cancelled within 14 days of departure resulting in a two or more hour delay, then –  providing the reason for the cancellation is the airline's fault – you are also likely entitled to fixed cash (not vouchers) compensation of between £105 to £505 per person depending on the flight.

"Many airlines say they are cancelling due to staffing problems because of Covid. Historically, courts have ruled staff sickness has been seen as an issue which is the airline's fault (as they should be able to roster for this within their schedules), so compensation is likely due. Easyjet has confirmed it will pay out compensation in these circumstances.

"Though as always, given these pandemic-related issues are unprecedented, some airlines may argue these are extraordinary circumstances beyond their control.

"Of course, it's worth remembering too that airlines have struggled financially ever since the pandemic began, so there is an ethical element to whether you should claim. If the delay was small and no hassle, perhaps don't.

"If the delay left you out of pocket, caused huge hassle, or you'd paid for an expensive flight and were moved to one that could've been cheaper, you may want to go for it. It's simple to do via the free MSE flight delay/cancellation guide and tool."

The amount of fixed compensation that would be due

Flight cancelled within 14 days before departure

Flight length Time of alternative flight vs original (i) Compensation (ii)

Flight cancelled 7-14 days before departure

 

0 - 1,500km, for example, London to Paris

Leaves 2hrs+ before, lands up to 2hrs after £105
Lands 4hrs+ late. OR leaves 2hrs+ before, lands 2hrs+ after £210

 

1,500 - 3,500km, for example, London to Istanbul

Leaves 2hrs+ before, lands late (up to 3hrs after) £168
Lands 4hrs+ late. OR leaves 2hrs+ before, lands 3-4hrs after £337

 

3,500km+, for example, London to New York

Leaves 2hrs+ before, lands late (up to 4hrs after) £253
Lands 4hrs+ late £505

Flight cancelled less than 7 days before departure

0 - 1,500km, for example, London to Paris Leaves 1hr+ before, lands up to 2hrs after £105
Lands 2hrs+ late £210
1,500 - 3,500km, for example, London to Istanbul Leaves 1hr+ before, lands late (up to 3hrs after) £168
Lands 3hrs+ late £337
3,500km+, for example, London to New York Leaves 1hr+ before, lands late (up to 4hrs after) £253
Lands 4hrs+ late £505

(i) Based on the timings of the alternative flight offered. (ii) Sterling figures based on the late April 2022 exchange rate of €1.19 to £1.

Law firm Bott and Co agrees compensation is likely

Bott and Co – a law firm specialising in flight delay and cancellation claims – said staff sickness, including Covid related sickness, and strikes by the airline crew are NOT reasons for airlines to avoid paying compensation.

Coby Benson, a solicitor at Bott and Co, told us: "Most staffing issues, for instance relating to crew sickness or staff on strike, are not extraordinary circumstances and the airline should therefore pay out for these."

Easyjet itself has also confirmed it will pay compensation for its recent staff illness-related cancellations.

But if you're struggling to get compensation, Benson said affected passengers should cite the cases of Litpon v BA City Flyer (Court of Appeal) or Krüsemann and others v TUIfly GmbH (Court of Justice of the European Union) to back up their claims.

In the Litpon case, it was ruled that "staff illness, and the need to accommodate such illness on a daily basis, is a commonplace for any business. It is a mundane fact of commercial life: it is in no way out of the ordinary".

Meanwhile, the Krüsemann judgement ruled that wildcat strikes – those not officially organised by a trade union – are also subject to compensation: "The spontaneous absence of a significant part of the flight crew staff ('wildcat strikes')... which stems from the surprise announcement by an operating air carrier of a restructuring... following a call echoed not by the staff representatives of the company but spontaneously by the workers themselves who placed themselves on sick leave, is not covered by the concept of 'extraordinary circumstances'."

Note that industrial action by air traffic controllers, airport staff and ground handlers is, however, considered extraordinary, meaning compensation would not be due.

You can make a claim using our free tool or complain directly to your airline

If you believe you're entitled to compensation for a cancelled flight, you can make a claim using the MSE free online reclaim tool, which uses technology from complaints site Resolver. Alternatively, you can complain directly to your airline – this often includes emailing or filling in an online form.

With Easyjet and Ryanair, we've linked to their complaints pages, which will explain whether you need to get in touch by writing or by using online complaints forms:

What do British Airways, Easyjet and Ryanair say?

British Airways said: "Any customers out of pocket who believe they are entitled to compensation as a result of disrupted or cancelled flights are advised to make a claim on BA.com, where it will be reviewed by our expert teams."

Easyjet said: "We have taken the view that compensation is due where cancellations have been made less than 14 days in advance as a result of the recent higher than usual levels of crew sickness."

Ryanair did not respond to our request for comment.

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