Airline Delays and Cancellations – Know your Rights

In the UK we are faced with union and employee strikes on a regular basis, from teachers marching in protest and closing schools for a day to train drivers delaying our journeys home from work. Whether you support their right to strike or not, these walk outs can cause a certain amount of annoyance for people who rely on these workforces.

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Recently airline staff at Lufthansa staged a three day walkout to strike against their employers, and this caused mayhem for passengers wanting to travel abroad. In preparation for the strike, Lufthansa cancelled nearly 4,000 flights affecting nearly half a million travellers.
Lufthansa worked to rearrange travel for their customers, with 20,000 taking a train instead, 25,000 rebooking their flight online and others finding seats on partner airlines. However, many customers struggled to get through to Lufhansa as their call centres were stretched to the limit – taking 80,000 in one day when their average is usually 5,000.
This strike is now over, however it serves as a serious reminder that travellers should know their rights, and what to do in these kinds of situations.
• If strike action is called you should be alerted by your airline. As above, it is their job to get you on another flight (perhaps on a different day) or refund your tickets. Try to be firm but also patient and polite, the airline will most likely be dealing with thousands of passengers and becoming rude will not help.
• If your flight is delayed, then try to find someone of authority who can keep you updated on the issues affecting your flight. Remember that if you have travel insurance, you will usually be entitled to benefits if your flight is delayed over 12 hours. This should be enough to get some food or magazines without eating into your holiday budget.
• Also keep in mind that you can also seek compensation from your airline if your flight is delayed over a few hours (the longer you are delayed, the more you may be entitled too).
• If your flight is cancelled, it is the airline’s responsibility to get you on another flight or to refund your money.
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