British tourists have faced chaotic scenes at UK airports as airlines have canceled flights over the busy holiday season. easyJet, TUI, British Airways and Wizz Air have canceled all flights.
Connor Campbell, personal finance expert at NerdWallet, said: “Often it’s hard to know what to do when a flight is cancelled.
“In those first moments of stress, it can be easy to forget your rights as a consumer.
“However, you should be aware that there are a number of rules that all airlines must follow that can help you cope with the consequences of your flight cancellation.”
Essentially, if your flight is cancelled, your airline must allow you to choose between receiving a full refund or choosing an alternative flight.
“You also have the right to get a refund for any part of the ticket you haven’t used.
“This means that if you have booked a return flight and the outward journey is cancelled, you can be refunded the full cost of the return ticket.
“If you want to travel on your scheduled date, your airline will need to find you an alternative flight.
“So if another airline flies to the destination you intended to travel to – or if another suitable mode of transport is available – you have the right to be booked on that alternative transport instead.”
Some passengers have claimed that their airline failed to notify them of their rights to a canceled flight.
Connor said: “For cancellations, airlines must also provide you with other assistance until you can fly to your destination.
These include: a reasonable amount of food and drink (often in the form of vouchers), free accommodation (if you need to stay overnight to fly the next day), round-trip transport to and from the accommodation, and some form of communication (the cover the costs of telephone calls).
“If your flight is canceled with less than 14 days’ notice, you may be able to claim compensation based on the times of the alternative flight you are offered and also how far you traveled.
Also, with many last minute cancellations, compensation may be available if you cancel less than 14 days in advance.
“This includes access to a reasonable amount of food and drink (often provided in the form of vouchers) and accommodation until the airline can fly you to your destination.”
He added that passengers can check the status of their flight on their airline’s website before traveling to the airport.
Connor advised passengers concerned about a possible cancellation to pay by credit card.
He said: “In addition to paying with a credit card – one of the best ways to protect your money, because if an airline mistakenly denies you a refund, you can initiate a chargeback through your credit card company – you can get insurance.
“For example, there are several policies that provide cover for the failure of an airline.
This is often referred to as Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance (SAFI). While the level of this protection varies, providers can often offer to cover up to £2,500 for loss on airfare and the additional cost of replacing flights.
“Unfortunately, if you have booked your flight and accommodation separately, the airline is not responsible for your hotel booking, which means that you will have to claim travel insurance separately. This also includes other bookings such as car rental.
“Therefore, if you haven’t taken a package deal with an airline, insurance is essential; it can cover every part of the trip, from the flight to your accommodation and any pre-planned travel you’ve paid for.”