What are my rights if my summer holiday flight is cancelled?
PUBLISHED: 10:48 19 July 2019 | UPDATED: 10:48 19 July 2019
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Thousands of families from Suffolk are preparing to jet off on their summer holidays as schools break up for the long six-week break, many from the recently upgraded Stansted Airport in Essex - but what do you do if your dream holiday fails to take off.
From flight delays to cancellations and the looming fear of lost luggage, a holiday can quickly take a turn for the worse right at the last minute, prompting a reminder of holidaymakers' rights.
The new advice has been issued by Citizens Advice Ipswich ahead of the start of the summer holidays - which for some Suffolk students get underway today.
Under European Union law, those travelling to or from an EU airport, or with an EU airline, could be entitled to compensation in the event of a delay.
Depending on the length of a delay, airlines must provide food, drink and if necessary, accommodation and transport.
For flights that have been delayed for more than five hours, holidaymakers are entitled to a refund if they no longer wish to travel.
Citizens Advice recommend contacting the Civil Aviation Authority straight away to see what you are entitled to - including a potential 600€ in compensation.
Thankfully, in the case a flight is cancelled, holidaymakers have the legal right to either a full refund within seven days, a replacement flight (potentially from another airline) or an alternative flight.
In the case an alternative flight is chosen, compensation may be available in the event it delays arrival by more than two hours, or if the initial flight was cancelled less than two weeks before its scheduled departure.
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Industrial action may not be the most common reason for delays or cancellations, but they can easily wreak havoc on holiday plans.
Fortunately, in the event industrial action affects your holiday, your rights remain the same as in the case of other cancellations or delays.
Not being classed as "extraordinary circumstances", compensation may be available - visit the Citizens Advice website for more.
Airline goes under
An airline going bust can make it difficult to gain compensation, but options are still available depending on the booking method - direct or third party, by debit or credit card, or booking as part of a package, can all affect compensation and insurance claims.
If your flight is ATOL protected, you are guaranteed a refund in the case the company collapses - bookings through a travel agent should also be covered by ATOL protection.
In the case flights are not ATOL protected, claims could be made under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act in the case the booking was made by credit card. To be eligible, more than £100 needs to have been paid.
Citizens Advice recommend buying travel insurance that includes "scheduled airline failure" in the case a company goes into insolvency.
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If luggage is delayed, lost or damaged at the fault of the airline, holidaymakers have the legal right to claim compensation.
Citizens Advice recommend claiming as soon as possible as, in certain cases, there is a seven day deadline.
You can also claim money from the airline to cover the bare essentials while you are without your luggage, ie toiletries, or to repair and replace goods.
In the case you have travel or contents insurance that covers luggage, it may be better to claim via insurance rather than through the airline.
Nicky Wilshere, chief officer of Citizens Advice Ipswich, said: "Flight problems can be very frustrating, especially at this time of year. As well as being inconvenient, issues like delays, cancellations, and lost luggage can be costly.
"Knowing your rights, booking ATOL-protected flights, and taking out comprehensive travel insurance will protect your holiday plans before you fly. We hope that with these top tips, people will enjoy a stress-free journey, from Ipswich to wherever they're travelling to."