COVID-19 (Coronavirus) may impact your travel plans. Wherever you're going, you'll find the latest advice here.

news tips What to do if there is an airline strike – Skyscanner answers your questions

All articles

What to do if there is an airline strike – Skyscanner answers your questions

If you've ever had to fly during an airline strike, you'll know the panic it onsets. Can you get a refund for your ticket in an airline strike? Are airline strikes covered by travel insurance? Here's what to do when there's an airline strike.
Frustrated woman at the airport

What to do if there is an airline strike 2019Answers to frequently asked questions

EU Regulation (EC) No 261/2004

Catchy, I know. In short, this law establishes the common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights.* Don’t worry, we’ve read it so you don’t have to. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. 

Can I get a refund for cancelled flights?

Arrivals and departures board with flights cancelled

In short, yes. Under the aforementioned EU regulation, if your flight is cancelled you are entitled to one of the following:

  • A full refund for the cost of the airline ticket within seven days**
  • A return flight to the first point of departure
  • A substitute flight to your destination from a nearby airport with the airline covering any additional travel costs
  • A replacement flight on a later date outside of the duration of the strike; this is usually limited to a 12-month period

Is free transport and food included in compensation for airline strikes?

Woman at the check-in counter
  • If your delay is two hours or more (depending on the distance of the flight), you qualify for free meals and refreshments (coffee, non-alcoholic drinks) plus two free telephone calls and e-mails.
  • If your flight is delayed until the next day, you are entitled to hotel accommodation and transport between the airport and the place of accommodation must be covered by the airline.
  • If your delay is five hours or more, you have the right to: a full refund of the ticket within 7 days, or when relevant, a return flight to the departure point of the first ticket.

If this is not immediately offered by your airline, keep costs low and keep hold of your receipts. Airlines usually ask that you opt for the more cost-efficient options during this time, and you can use the receipts to claim compensation once you’re home.

Who is entitled to compensation and assistance for delayed or cancelled flights?

Man sleeping at the airport

You are legible for compensation and assistance if your flight:
• Departs from an EU airport
• Arrives at an EU airport from outside the EU but with an EU carrier
• Is cancelled or arrives at least 3 hours late or more
according to Regulation 261/2004.

Can I claim compensation if I am affected by a strike?

This is debatable. Legally, airlines are not obliged to compensate you if the flight was cancelled or delayed due to reasons beyond the airline’s control, and those reasons include strikes, volcanic eruptions and natural disasters. Depending on who is striking you may be able to claim up to €600 in compensation from your airline.

What if my flight was part of a package holiday?

Woman with luggage at the airport

If you booked a package holiday with flights and hotel included, your airline is obliged to compensate your tour operator. Your tour operator is then obliged to pass the compensation on to you.

What steps do I take to claim compensation?

1) Officially complain to the airline: This may mean complaining online or over the phone. More often than not, you’ll have to call their customer service line (Google search your airline’s name + customer service phone). Lines are often busy during strikes, so be prepared to wait. If you do have difficulty with your claim, companies like AirHelp can now help you file for compensation. Alternatively, websites such as moneysavingexpert offer free templates on their site to help you with your claim.
2) Use an adjudicator or regulator to take the claim further: If your claim has been rejected or put on hold by your airline, you can use independent regulators to take the claim further.
3) Take the claim to court: If the airline still reject your claim or you are unhappy with the outcome of your claim then you can pursue it in court. Watch out though, if claims are older than 6 years old, they may be rejected by the court.

Will my travel insurance cover any additional costs?

Two men with cancelled flights at the airport

Wondering about that hotel you booked, but now you can’t get there? If the flight was cancelled due to a reason beyond the airline’s control, you may still be able to claim on travel insurance. Make sure to check the terms and conditions of your insurance as soon as possible, as you may have to make the claim within a certain period of the flight cancellation. Airlines should also legally provide alternative transport or hotel costs, so if you do need to expense these, make sure to add it to your insurance claim.

Check out the Citizens Information IE site for guidance on finding the best travel insurance cover for your trip.

This regulation applies to:

  • passengers departing from an airport located in the territory of an EU country to which the EU Treaties apply; and
  • passengers departing from an airport located in a non-EU country to an airport situated in the territory of an EU country to which the EC Treaty applies

** Fees may apply

Man sleeping at the airport

More answers to frequently asked questions, smart travel tips and travel ideas from Skyscanner

*Updated March 2019. Information correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change and/or availability.

Skyscanner is the world’s best travel search engine for flights, hotels and car hire.