Nine questions about flight cancellations answered by travel expert Simon Calder

As the UK baked into a second day of heatwave with record temperatures, The Independents travel correspondent Simon Calder answered readers’ questions about flight cancellations, passports and more.

Here are nine questions about flight cancellations that Simon answered.

What compensation am I entitled to after a canceled flight?

Q: We had booked a Eurowings flight from Birmingham to Stockholm on July 1 which was canceled with about three hours notice. After Eurowings refused to book us on anything but an EW or Lufthansa flight, we booked ourselves on Ryanair’s Liverpool-Stockholm flight departing the following day. We filled out a form on the EW website asking for compensation for canceled flights and reimbursement for our Ryanair flight as well as reasonable expenses (food, trip to Liverpool). The complaint was submitted 16 days ago but other than a reply confirming that they had received our email, we have not received anything back. How long do Eurowings have to respond and how do we escalate if they don’t respond to us in time? Also, we had booked to stay at a hotel near Birmingham airport the day before our original flight – are we entitled to claim this refund as the cancellation made the hotel stay unnecessary?

A: You are one of hundreds of thousands of people who have struggled with cancellations this summer. If, as you say, Eurowings refused to book you on anything other than a flight on one of the airlines of the Lufthansa group, that seems to have directly contravened the opinion of the Authority of civil aviation according to which you must be offered a flight on any airline that will get you there on the initial day of travel.

You did well to book on Ryanair and then claim. Unfortunately, one of the many shortcomings of the European rules on air passenger rights is that there is no specific deadline for the payment of these costs. Give it a few more weeks, then write a letter before the action saying you will make a legal claim (although since Brexit this has become trickier).

The Birmingham hotel is considered an indirect loss. It’s possible, but frankly unlikely, that your travel insurance will cover it.

Q: My family had two return flights canceled, are we entitled to two complaints? The carrier only offers one and no accommodation/food/transfer fees. Three-day interval between the proposed flights.

A: Yes, you should be able to claim for each cancellation, if it was the airline’s responsibility (eg technical problems or lack of staff)

Q: Claim for compensation and loss of a vacation day with Jet2. It was late May. How long do they have to respond to my request? We must also reimburse the hotel that we had to take after the cancellation of the flight until the next day.

A: As mentioned earlier, EU rules on air passenger rights are too weak in places. Jet2 has generally been a great airline/tour operator so I hope a polite letter will suffice. Interested that you had to pay for the hotel – usually Jet2 would have booked and paid for it.

Will British Airways refund my flight vouchers canceled by Covid?

Q: Like many, I had BA vouchers for a flight and car rental after Covid canceled a holiday in 2020. BA Holidays is refunding car rental vouchers in cash. Do you think it will be the same for flight vouchers? Current issues with BA are not encouraging new bookings at this time, especially with current prices. That said the vouchers have been extended until 09/23.

A: This seems like a tricky position.

First, if you booked a British Airways holiday for 2020 that didn’t happen – with flights canceled rather than you deciding not to take them – then the default should be that you get a full refund. I’m interested to know the process by which part of the package – car rental – was returned, but not the flights element. Have you been offered a full refund?

Second, if there was a reason why you accepted vouchers – for example, you were offered an option to increase the value of your flights – you are really on the defensive. However, if it was just a matter of getting a very difficult and/or not at all obvious cash refund, you might have the option of going back to BA and asking for your money back.

Third, if the trip went through but you weren’t able to enjoy it due to local lockdown rules, a full refund may well be available – but only after a test case has gone to court.

How do I know if my British Airways flight is cancelled?

Q: BA due to cancel flights from Heathrow this summer, do you know if affected passengers have now been informed? And, secondly, if our BA flight (which is to Rhodes) on Wednesday September 14 at 1.30 p.m. has people bumped from the previous flight that day (which appears to have been removed from BA’s schedule later this summer), would reserving our seats in advance be advantageous – is it more likely that we would be guaranteed boarding than if we waited to be assigned at check-in? Expensive though!

A: British Airways has canceled around 30,000 flights so far this summer and I believe the vast majority of affected passengers have been notified. There may be a few more cancellations in response to Heathrow’s cap on passenger numbers at 100,000 departures per day, but certainly not to holiday destinations such as Rhodes. I wouldn’t dream of paying to reserve a seat on British Airways – if there is an overbooking situation then, as BA knows, volunteers should be sought. Anyway, you can register for free from 24 hours in advance.

What are my rights if my flight is cancelled?

Q: I booked a holiday with BA, flying INV to LHR then LHR to BGI. The holiday was booked in January 2022 for a (end) start in October 2022 and I have so far only paid the full deposit required by BA with the balance due in September 2022. The INV sector at LHR was supposed to be on the early morning red-eye flight departing INV at 7am, but that flight was recently suspended in July. If that flight is suspended again, as seems likely, until October, it will require me to fly to London the night before. What are my rights here, is BA responsible for my extra night costs or is it just rescheduling the INV – LHR flight to the day before at no cost to me?

A: At present, all of this is hypothetical. British Airways hopes to be able to provide full short-haul service by the end of October – many current holiday flights are likely to be finished by then. BA should definitely pay for your hotel at Heathrow if this happens.

Q: EasyJet says they don’t have to redirect me if they give me more than 14 days notice. This is not my interpretation of their rights notice. I am not asking for compensation, only that they pay for another flight on another airline (they no longer fly to my destination).

A: What??? It’s absurd. I see no reason easyJet would have to refuse a claim for your new flight.

Will my flight be cancelled?

Q: What do you think will happen to further flight cancellations from Heathrow after July 24? We have to fly 28 from Terminal 4 in Qatar and we don’t know how much we should worry about having any issues. So far Qatar doesn’t seem to have canceled any flights and not sure if that’s a comfort or not!

A: It seems unlikely to me that Qatar Airways, along with other giant Gulf-based airlines, will reduce the number of flights – instead ceasing to sell seats on its existing departures. Just tried to make a test booking for a flight tomorrow from Heathrow to Doha. In case I’m wrong, then a departure subject to cancellation is a departure with a very close alternative. For example QR4 leaves at 3.05 p.m. and QR8 leaves at 4 p.m. Passengers could also be accommodated on a British Airways flight to Doha – Qatar Airways is co-owner of BA’s parent company, IAG.

Q: Flying to Charlotte NC in late August with American Airlines. They seem to be flying well on this route at the moment. Confident that everything will be fine?

A: That should be fine but don’t be surprised if you’re asked to transfer to New York JFK instead of a direct flight.

Simon said: “Thank you for all your questions – come back here soon for more. Have a good evening.”

Check back soon for Simon Calder’s next “Ask Me Anything”. Make sure you’re signed up to receive his weekly travel newsletter by putting your email in the box above or via our newsletter page.

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