(Photo: RoxiRosita via Getty Images)
British Airways is set to cut 10,300 more short-haul flights between August and the end of October, amid ongoing staffing shortages, the airline has said.
Almost 30,000 flights in BA’s schedule between April and October have so far been cancelled, affecting London Heathrow, Gatwick and City airports.
EasyJet has also warned it is imposing flight caps over the summer period, which could mean the cancellation of up to 10,000 of 16,000 Gatwick flights on sale for July, August and September.
The staffing shortages that are leading to these cancellations are also a factor in recent and forthcoming strikes by airline staff at Easyjet and Ryanair, who are taking action over pay and working patterns.
Plans by BA workers to strike in July are currently on hold, after an agreement was reached in negotiations this week.
Despite this, strikes, delays and cancellations are likely to affect thousands of Brits who have planned to get away later this year.
So, what happens if your flight is cancelled before you leave – or while you are abroad? Will you be given an alternative flight and what are you rights around refunds and compensation? Here are your travel questions answered.
What should I bear in mind when booking a flight?
Already booked a flight with an affected airline? You will need to wait for cancellations or strike dates to be announced before you can take action.
If you have a journey that is time-critical, you might want to consider booking an alternative flight, but do bear in mind that you will only be able to get a refund on your flight if it’s grounded.
“We recommend customers book as normal, Steve Witt, co-founder of Not Just Travel, previously told HuffPost UK about summer strikes. “Airports and airlines are working together to minimise disruption and good travel agents will ensure customers are fully protected in case anything does go wrong.”
It’s generally good practice to pay for flights and holidays on a credit card if you have one and where your transaction is more than £100, according to travel expert Emma Coulthurst.
“You have better consumer protections if you do this,” she previously told HuffPost UK. “As long as you put even a £1 on your credit card (and make sure you pay it off so you don’t incur interest), you will be protected.” She also recommended ensuring you have insurance in place at time of booking.
What should I do if my flight gets cancelled or grounded?
Travellers should give their airline a chance to meet its obligations before booking on to another airline, according to Athina Macpherson, who works for travel comparison sites Travel Supermarket and icelolly.com.
“The cancellation message from an airline normally contains a rebook link – though this will look only at the airline’s own service. If an alternative flight on the cancelling carrier is available on the same day, customers will need to accept it (or claim a full refund),” Macpherson previosly told HuffPost UK.
“Make sure the company who the booking is made with and the airline have [your] up-to-date contact details, so that if the airline is cancelling flights customers can be contacted instantly and plugged into the people who are able to help.”
Will I receive compensation if my flights are cancelled due to a strike?
Flight compensation rights due to a strike situation can be complicated. A strike isn’t always seen as “extraordinary circumstances” under the terms and conditions of the ticket booking – it depends on who is striking.
If airport staff are striking, airlines don’t have any control of this so though you’re entitled to assistance, you cannot claim extra compensation for delays.
But if it’s airline staff striking, like ground crew or cabin crew, this is seen to be within an airline’s control, because it is negotiating with its own staff. Therefore, if you’re delayed, you should be entitled to compensation.
Again, check your travel insurance before you take out a policy. One in four travel insurance policies do not offer coverage for strikes, according to new research by Which?
What should my airline offer me in the case of cancellation?
Those travelling to or from the UK are protected by the new Air Passenger Rights, according to Macpherson.
“This means that an airline must offer the choice of a replacement flight at the earliest opportunity or to refund the ticket price. If the replacement flight is chosen the customer is entitled to meals and refreshments appropriate to the waiting time.
“If the replacement flight departs the next day or later, the airline must also provide hotel accommodation and the necessary transfers.”
In the case of a package holiday, customers are entitled to an alternative offered by the tour operator, if the tour operator is able to do so.
“If this alternative is a significant change to the original holiday (generally a change of more than 12 hours on a 14-night holiday is considered to be a significant change) then the tour operator must also offer the choice of a refund. This is a refund of the full package price, not just the flight part,” she said.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.