Ryanair has recently come under fire for their mass cancellation of flights that will be taking place over multiple periods between September 2017 and March 2018, as many customers have been left unsure about their rights when it comes to finding replacement flights and receiving refunds from the airline. Here is everything that you might want to know about the Ryanair cancellation drama, up to know:
Over 20,000 flights cancelled
Initially, Ryanair only cancelled around 2,000 flights between dates in September and October, as they found themselves left understaffed with too few pilots, after an issue with over-booking holidays. This left around one-third of a million passengers struggling to find new options for travel as Ryanair struggled to control the situation. Yet, shortly after the initial announcement of cancellations, Ryanair announced that they would be extending the number of flights they were cancelling to include a further 18,000 through November-March – leaving around 400,000 passengers without any form of transportation and causing chaos nationwide as many floundered to reach out to Ryanair and find new modes of transport to replace their original flights. Ryanair described the decision as “slowing its growth”, as it says that it will be flying 25 fewer aircraft of its 400-strong fleet to ensure that they eliminate any risk of further flight cancellations. For Ryanair, slower growth creates spare aircraft and crew across Ryanair’s 86 bases this winter.
There is a list of all of the flights that have been cancelled on Ryanair’s website, so if you haven’t been contacted then you should make sure to check their website to ensure your flight hasn’t been cancelled.
Their offers to passengers haven’t been enough
When Ryanair first announced that they would be cancelling around 20,000 flights between September and March they initially offered their passengers the chance to choose between receiving a refund or finding an alternative flight with Ryanair. They also provided £40 travel vouchers for all those affected, that came with the restrictions that they must be used within October to make a booking that would be completed by 20 March 2018.
This meant that a lot of passengers were finding that there were no replacement flights available to their destination in their correct timezone with Ryanair, and were instead receiving refunds from Ryanair and then paying for flights on different airlines that would be more expensive than their original flights. Many customers who experienced this situation are now available to apply for a refund on the extra price that they paid for their new flights.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) reminded Ryanair that if passengers were informed with less than 2 weeks until the date of their flights, then they must have a new flight confirmed on either a partner or rival airline if one could not be found within Ryanair’s airline itself. The European passenger’s rights rules also state that an airline that cancels a flight should offer passengers the chance to reroute under comparable transport conditions to their final destination and make sure that this is available at the earliest opportunity. This applies even if it means that the airline will have to pay for a flight on a rival carrier.
Ryanair could be facing legal action from CAA
Even after the initial contact from the CAA reminding them of passenger’s rights, Ryanair could be facing legal trouble as they have been accused of persistently misleading passengers whose flights have been cancelled by the airline. The CAA points out that when an EU airline cancels a flight with more than two weeks notice it doesn’t have to pay any compensation to its passengers, but it does have to offer a flight on another airline if that is the best option for the passengers involved. The airline should also bear the cost of any possible transfers to or from alternative airports if flight changes have been made.
The CAA first wrote to Ryanair regarding this after the airlines chief executive, Micheal O’Leary, held a press conference where he stated that Ryanair wasn’t obliged to reroute passengers on airlines other than Ryanair – and hadn’t corrected it after the CAA had pointed out the issues in this statement. The CAA believed that because of incomplete information being offered to passengers, average travellers would be making transactional decisions that they weren’t fully informed on and wouldn’t have taken otherwise.
After this, Ryanair changed their website to advise customers to contact their customer services team over the phone or on live chat regarding any flight changes, after they made their website statement say that passengers would be offered the chance to fly on a comparative airline in the case of cancellation.
Customer services and their website are still offering different information
After Ryanair changed their website to state that passengers would be able to rearrange their flights and advised their customers to use live chat or phone calls to discuss changes with the customer services team, many passengers began to note that the customer service reps were continuing to follow the past information that stated they could not change customer’s flights to other airlines. One customer managed to take a screenshot of a conversation they had with a rep, where they were continuously told that their requests weren’t part of ‘Ryanair policy’, and even after the customer replied that CAA have already approached Ryanair about the discrepancies surrounding this information the rep continued to insist that they couldn’t book the passenger on another airlines flight.
After customers began to complain about these conversations, Ryanair stated that they are advising their reps on the CAA’s guidelines, yet people continued to provide evidence that somehow that message didn’t seem to be reaching the customer service teams. A memo that was sent to Ryanair call centres was revealed to urge reps to keep passengers on Ryanair as much as they possibly could, but if they weren’t able to do this then they were steered to re-book on one of seven agreed partner airlines. The memo then states that if there is still no option available, the reps will have to use another airline, but must be advised that the price of these flights cannot exceed more than three times the cost of the original Ryanair flight – this is still breaching European passenger rights as they do not permit any limits on these replacement flights.
Even throughout all of this controversy, Ryanair have continued to roll out new deals on their flights, currently offering one million flights for £9.99 for one-way trips during October, November and December – showing that they really haven’t learnt anything at all about controlling the volume of the flights they offer and will continue to try and bend the rules surrounding their passengers so that they can still gain profits.