Air traffic strikes in France caused chaos for holidaymakers last week, and although the strike threatened for the 16th – 18th April has been called off, more are planned for the end of the month that could cause major problems for people planning to travel over May bank holiday weekend. Being aware of your rights is essential in a situation like this, so if your bank holiday break gets derailed by delays, here’s what you need to know.
Because so many UK flights travel through French air space on their way to other European countries, it’s not just flights to France that are affected by the strikes; passengers travelling to countries such as Spain, Greece and Cyprus could also suffer disruptions.It’s impossible to know ahead of time which flights will be affected; all you can do is be proactive in seeking out information in the days leading up to your holiday. Airline websites provide the most current information on delays and cancellations, or if you’ve booked a package holiday you can call your holiday provider for flight updates.
Under EU regulations the airline are required to give you a full refund in the event that your flight is cancelled, or provide you with an alternative route to your destination as soon as possible. However airlines are not required to pay out any additional compensation in the event of air traffic strikes as this disruption is not their fault.If you have booked a package holiday and your flight is cancelled, your holiday provider will refund the cost of the whole holiday, including your hotel costs, or give you the option of rescheduling the holiday.
As the airlines are not responsible for disruption caused by air traffic strikes they are not required to offer compensation to customers, however you could be entitled to ‘assistance’ if your flight is delayed. Assistance can cover anything from food and drink to overnight accommodation, but is subject to the length of the delay; generally speaking you would need to be delayed for at least 2 hours to be entitled to any assistance.
If you have booked a package holiday and your return flight is cancelled, your holiday provider is legally obligated to arrange your travel home. You will generally be able to stay in the same hotel free of charge while alternative travel arrangements are made for you, and they will aim to get you home as soon as possible.
Whether or not you can claim any losses back on your travel insurance depends on whether strikes are covered by your individual policy, so check the small print to find out what you’re entitled to. Remember that your insurance would have to have been purchased before the strike dates were announced, otherwise your insurance company is unlikely to pay out.
Read more: How to Survive A Long-Haul Flight
By Kate Moxon - Holiday crisis control