Ryanair strike this weekend: What are your rights if your flight is affected?

Ryanair strike this weekend: What are your rights if your flight is affected?
Credit: Belga

Cabin crew for the budget Irish airline Ryanair will go on a three-day strike in Brussels Airport and Charleroi airport, from Friday 22 to Sunday 24 April. The impact on passengers is expected to be significant.

Although it is unclear what the exact consequences will be for scheduled flights, knowing what your rights are as a Ryanair customer could be key if your flight is cancelled or delayed due to the strikes.

Passengers departing from or arriving at an airport in the European Union or European Economic Area have been protected against severe flight disruption since 2004, when the EU passed the 261 regulation.

This regulation confirms that long delays, cancellations, missed connections and flight re-bookings should be compensated because they cause great inconvenience to the passenger.

Passenger rights

If a flight is delayed by less than three hours, passengers are not entitled to compensation. However, if the delay is more than three hours or a flight is cancelled at a later time, passengers can choose to be rebooked as soon as possible.

In this case, they are entitled to meals and refreshments during the waiting time, as well hotel accommodation if a stay of one or more nights is required and transportation between the airport and place of accommodation.

Companies can be expected to pay up to €600 per person if flights are cancelled less than 14 days before departure or for delays of at least three hours (compared to the scheduled arrival time) and a person asks to be refunded. The compensation is then determined based on the distances between the airport of departure and arrival.

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For flights up to and including 1,500 km, passengers are entitled to a compensation of €250, while they will be given €400 for all intra-EU flights of more than 1,500 km, as well as all other flights between 1,500 and 3,500 km. For non-internal EU flights of more than 3,500 km, they should receive €600.

If a flight is delayed for more than five hours, passengers can cancel the delayed flight and find another solution, and reclaim the extra costs they incur from the airline, as well as receive assistance and compensation. Compensation for Ryanair flights to and from Belgium can be claimed here.

Force majeure

Airlines are, however, not required to pay compensation if there are "exceptional circumstances" involved beyond their own control, which lead to a cancellation. This includes bad weather or a strike, for example by air traffic control.

This is where vigilance is key, according to Test Achats. Passengers must make sure the airline does not invoke this argument too quickly, as was the case during the Ryanair strikes in Belgium in 2018, when the strikes were directly linked to the difficult working conditions.

If a strike was announced in advance, as is the case now, this reason does not legally fall under force majeure, and passengers should claim compensation. Belgium's FPS Economy has made an overview of passengers' rights and how to complain if compensation is now awarded.

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