Travel chaos is all around, and 2022 was one that will be remembered for cancelled flights and travel delays. Now, as we enter 2023, those planning to travel – either back home or on holiday elsewhere – might see disruption to their plans due to airline collapses, Border Force strikes, plus walkouts that affect Channel immigration offices and border ports.
The strikes took place from Friday 23 December into the New Year, and it’s possible further action could be taken in early 2023. So, while the vast majority of flights are still going ahead, it’s not unlikely that you’ll face some disruption – or even cancellations – if you plan to travel in the next few months.
Nicky Kelvin, head of The Points Guy UK, shares his top tips on what to do if the worst should happen, and what to know about the compensation you’ll be entitled to.
What happens if my airline collapses?
If the airline you’ve booked with goes into administration before your scheduled departure date, you still have rights and should be able to get your money back. Those who have paid more than £100 on a credit card will be covered under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. Anyone whose purchase was less than £100, or who paid on a visa debit card, can contact their debit card issuer to ask for a refund. Those who booked through a travel agent should contact the relevant company to enquire about getting their money back, or you might be covered for airline failure on your travel insurance.
In some instances, when an airline collapses, lots of flights will be cancelled at the last minute. This was the case when budget British carrier Flybe went into administration in January 2023 – many flights were cancelled with very little notice. If your airline collapses and you booked through an ATOL travel agent, they will rearrange your journey. If you booked flights independently, it is your responsibility to find an alternative way home. In January 2023, British Airways, Easyjet and Ryanair stepped in to provide cheaper-than-usual flights on cancelled routes for would-be Flybe travellers while the train line LNER offered travellers who would have been on domestic flights free travel on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 January.
What happens if my flight is cancelled?
“If the airline you are flying is based in the UK or EU, or if you’re flying out of a UK or EU airport, there are two main resolutions that you are entitled to and you can select which one you want,” explains Nicky. “The airline either has to find a new re-routed flight or provide you with a full refund. If you opt for a refund, the airline has to pay within seven days. If you decide to take a new re-routed flight, you can ask for the next available one, or you can reschedule to a convenient date in the future.”
If you’re already at the airport when the flight is cancelled there may be someone available to talk to you about your options. If not, it’s important to get in touch with your airline as soon as possible.
Should my airline find me a new flight if my original one is cancelled?
“Once your flight has been cancelled, the airline should find you a new flight, if you elect for that option,” Nicky says. “You can also request that the airline gives you a flight on a rival provider, so you don’t have to travel with the same airline.