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Aer Lingus return flight cancelled within 24 hours of flight

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  • brian

    I’m in Dublin ahead of what was supposed to be my return flight to Gatwick at 15.10 tomorrow. Got SMS at 7.00am this evening saying flight is cancelled, if they can put us on an alternative route they will SMS again “soon” and otherwise contact them.

    No SMS was received within the following 3 hours and attempts to call them led to being stuck in a lengthy queue (I’ve heard horror stories about how difficult it is to talk to someone these days).

    After half an hour of being on hold where they advise trying to change a booking via the app we decided to try change our flight that way. No flights to Gatwick were available tomorrow or Saturday so we booked the first flight on Sunday morning. A handful of flights to Heathrow are available for Saturday but we cannot reroute using the app. About 5 flights to London have been cancelled in the last 2 days so options are limited.

    Have we shot ourselves in the foot in terms of EU compensation, airlines duty of care, travel insurance by locking in the first available flight we could change to ourselves? The plan was to try call tomorrow to see if we can be moved to a Saturday flight but we may struggle to contact them and we may have given up our right to rerouting at earliest opportunity by amending the booking.

    We also acted quickly and booked two nights hotel at a reasonable price (Dublin reasonable prices are pretty extortionate these days)

    • This topic was modified 52 years, 7 months ago by .
    yonasl

    You don’t lose but the airline responsibility ends when you chose an alternative options (either new flight, rerouting or refund). In this case you are unable to chose at all so again … no loss yet.

    If the airline is not offering you an alternative, you are within your rights to book it yourself and then ask them to pay (how hard that fight will be cannot be known so keep records of you calling them or screenshots of their system not letting you change the flight or rebook alternatives). As you mention, in addition to a new flight you should also get hotel and food (all reasonable).

    You should also have EU compensation, for such a short flight it won’t be much but you can request that too.

    Good luck!

    brian

    You don’t lose but the airline responsibility ends when you chose an alternative options (either new flight, rerouting or refund). In this case you are unable to chose at all so again … no loss yet.

    So the only action we were able to take within our existing booking without customer support intervention and additional fees was selecting a new flight from DUB to LGW and the first available one wasn’t until Sunday at 7.00 am.

    Rather than running up a bill of £1200+ by booking a new flight to Heathrow for the Saturday or struggling on to get in touch with Customer Support we just went ahead and amended our booking.

    Based on what you said above they instantly no longer have a duty of care and we are responsible for hotel costs?

    • This reply was modified 52 years, 7 months ago by .
    Bill

    EU compensation may be payable depending upon the reson for cancellation.
    Notheless the airline still has a duty of care – meals & hotel.
    Travel insurance may cover any additional reasonable expenses that the airline won’t.
    Since you have rebooked I would be surprised if you are able to move the flight again without charge. This would be at the goodwill of the airline, since it’s you already used your lifeline (as they say on tv quiz shows) . ie. one free change to a disrupted booking.

    Flights with an alternative airline might have been an option but the airline won’t pay for that now.

    • This reply was modified 52 years, 7 months ago by .
    brian

    Thanks! Not surprised we’ve used up our single choice of an alternative flight but we felt it was more important to guarantee a flight before Monday than struggle to talk to customer support late last night based on the info we had.

    Turns out the 15.10 was cancelled yesterday, today and tomorrow. The 7.10 flight seems to consistently leave at least.

    The reason for flight cancellation given is “crew illness and extraordinary operational challenges” so I’m not sure if that will fall under extraordinary circumstances for EU compensation.

    Would be hoping to get hotel expenses covered through either airline or EU compensation or amex platinum travel insurance at the very least.

    • This reply was modified 52 years, 7 months ago by .
    Lady London

    Keep the SMS cancelling your flight
    Keep screenshots (ideally) or notes of your struggles with the app
    Keep screenshots or phone bill list of calls made trying to reach them to ask them to reroute you.

    It sounds like you’ve made at least 3 serious attempts but it didn’t work in the app they told ypu to use and you couldn’t get through on the phone. So it sounds like you tried enough.

    Anything extra you paid for ticket, any nights hotel till replacement flight, all meals at reasonable local hotel or restaurant costs, claim off them with receipts.

    Claim EU261 / UK261 compensation for cancelled flight less than 14 days notice. Staff problems are not exceptional circumstances this is solid – they owe you £220;/ 250 euros *per seat*. Plus all the duty of care things above.

    Claim after the flight, keep all ypur evidence till it’s paid in full. Persist and remind till paid. Do not under any circumstances accept a refund of your ticket as that gets them off all the rerouting and duty of care costs.

    points_worrier

    Following cancellation under EC261/2004 Article 8) 1) you are entitled to one of: 1) rebooking on next available flight (including other airlines, if no reasonable own-airline option available 2) rebooking at your convenience in the fututre (you will struggle if you want this >1 year after original flight or 3) a refund. You get this choice once, and once only. It sounds like you have made your choice. If the new flight is cancelled, you are entitled to make the choice all over again (and get extra compensation on the new flight – yes it is additive).

    If you choose 1) rebooking on next available flight, the airline has a duty of care, so you can claim hotels, 3 square meals a day (not including alcohol), and travel costs between hotel and airport for new flight.

    In addition, you might be entitled to compensation if the flight was not cancelled for extraordinary circumstances. These do not include airline staffing issues.

    Bear in mind the airline can both refuse what you are entitled to, and be more flexible than what was required. They won’t have to pay hotels for an additional night if they can put you on an earlier flight – I would try and contact them tomorrow am early, and see if they will let you change (they probably will). In future, if you have the cash, I would not have chosen an alternative flight, and just booked an alternative on any carrier after you’ve tried to contact airline (alhough the ECJ have made it clear you have no duty whatsoever to try and contact the airline, they should be contacting you). Otherwise I would turn up to the earlier other flight and explain the situation at check-in to see if you can get on.

    brian

    Thanks both, that’s really useful info.

    points worrier, I know technically we may have given ourselves bigger hurdles to overcome by choosing the first available flight that was free of charge to change to and could be done without customer service action. At the time it felt like the safest option given how many AL flights to London are being cancelled. There are now no available seats tomorrow and Ryan Air had none when we looked last night so I didn’t even bother trying to call them today, even if I could get through to someone I don’t think they could have offered us a better flight.

    We did feel under pressure to make a decision at 10pm last night and felt that the ~£2,000 self funded option of booking an alternative flight (+ hotel and food) at the prices on offer yesterday versus waiting another 12-18 hours to fly (although with another night’s stay) made most sense.

    Also, just turning up at the airport with a 2 year old isn’t ideal. I had been reading about those who are getting their flights cancelled by AL at much shorter notice to leave the airport and contact customer support too.

    It does not help that the link they sent about our rights doesn’t appear to work on my mobile. I assume clicking on Cancellation should result in a pop up? https://www.aerlingus.com/support/legal/regulation/

    RE: EU Compensation. Given we are two adults and an infant who had his own seat, are we entitled to 3 * 250?

    • This reply was modified 52 years, 7 months ago by .
    points_worrier

    @brian, ah sorry. Didn’t mean to sound so negative: given those costs, those timings, and more importantly a 2-year old, it sounds like you made the right choice. Spend the extra time doing something fun!
    Yes – a 2yo with their own seat will get full compensation (assuming they have a ticket and public fare, which they almost certainly will).
    Link works for me: it goes here https://www.aerlingus.com/media/pdfs/LEGALCANCELLATION.pdf

    I see you can charge them the fees for two telex messages. If you’re bored, you could spend the time trying to see if you could actually send a telex message. Ah – you’ve got a two year old. You won’t be bored.

    yonasl

    You don’t lose but the airline responsibility ends when you chose an alternative options (either new flight, rerouting or refund). In this case you are unable to chose at all so again … no loss yet.

    So the only action we were able to take within our existing booking without customer support intervention and additional fees was selecting a new flight from DUB to LGW and the first available one wasn’t until Sunday at 7.00 am.

    Rather than running up a bill of £1200+ by booking a new flight to Heathrow for the Saturday or struggling on to get in touch with Customer Support we just went ahead and amended our booking.

    Based on what you said above they instantly no longer have a duty of care and we are responsible for hotel costs?

    You don’t lose your right to duty of care (for instance if the flight is the next day they may have to pay for hotel and food). What happens is that you then cannot ask further changes. So if you really wanted to take another flight earlier or change your mind the airline can say you picked and alternative already.

    brian

    Managed to get back to London this morning in the end. Feels like we made the right call in switching to the flight ~40 hours later via the app.

    Now to start the process of clawing back some of the money owed. I will also mention to them that their EU Regulation 261/2004 support page doesn’t appear to be fully functional on Chrome on Android. That PDF would have been very useful in the midst of rebooking. Thanks for posting the destination link @points_worrier and thanks everyone who contributed in making it very clear what we are entitled to.

    • This reply was modified 52 years, 7 months ago by .
    brian

    I’ve already heard back from Aer Lingus and they are happy to cover our accommodation and food expenses for the 2 additional days in Dublin but are refusing to award EU Regulation 261/2004 compensation as they are deeming Covid related staff shortages to be Extraordinary Circumstances. I know a few have mentioned in this thread that staffing issues cannot be considered to be Extraordinary Circumstances but is it possible that when Covid is the cause then it changes things?

    Optimus Prime

    I’ve already heard back from Aer Lingus and they are happy to cover our accommodation and food expenses for the 2 additional days in Dublin but are refusing to award EU Regulation 261/2004 compensation as they are deeming Covid related staff shortages to be Extraordinary Circumstances. I know a few have mentioned in this thread that staffing issues cannot be considered to be Extraordinary Circumstances but is it possible that when Covid is the cause then it changes things?

    Nope, staff off sick due to Covid is no longer an excuse to avoid compo.

    brian

    I’m guessing it’s too early for there to be successful cases that have argued this and it will be some time before one is seen in court. So far I’m only seeing it as theoretical advice and may predate the first major wave of infection since travel has somewhat returned to pre-pandemic levels.

    Bott & Co

    We believe staff sickness, including Covid related sickness, and strikes by the airline crew are NOT extraordinary circumstances and therefore shouldn’t be reasons for airlines to avoid paying compensation.

    CAA

    We do not, however, consider that all circumstances which may be related to Covid-19 will necessarily be extraordinary circumstances, for example where those circumstances could be considered inherent in the operation of an airline. Examples of such circumstances may include managing staffing levels and absences.

    I guess I need to make a decision on whether I respond to their initial response where they state they are happy to compensate for hotel and food with a slight threat of further action based on the above. I guess there’s a slight risk that they withdraw their initial offer.

    I think it might come to my own thoughts on whether I believe the reasons for cancellation were within their control or not and how passionate I feel about it.

    JDB

    @brian – you should consider also the Irish Commission for Aviation Regulation’s position on this as that will guide EI.

    brian

    @JDB, thanks. they just posted an article yesterday given the recent wave of cancellations. Unfortunately they don’t give their position on whether Covid related staff shortages would fall under Exceptional Circumstances or not which is a shame as the vast majority of Aer Lingus’ cancellations last week were due to this. Here’s what they say so I will contact them for their thoughts:

    “Passengers may be entitled to compensation under Regulation EC261/2004 if the airline could or should have been able to avoid or lessen the disruption and failed to do so.  However, this does not apply for cancellations made more than 14 days in advance or where the cancellation is due to ‘extraordinary circumstances’.

    CONTACT US

    Passengers who remain unclear about their entitlements as set out in EC Regulation 261/ 2004, or who have further queries in relation to same, should contact us flightrights.ie”

    What are you rights for delayed or cancelled flights?

    JDB

    @brian yes, I was aware of that which is why I pointed you in that direction. The CAR’s position on covid related cancellations seems not to have changed since 2020, nor is there any EU guidance, so it may depend precisely how EI puts its case as to whether it could be considered exceptional circumstances.

    In the first instance, I would challenge EI saying covid can no longer be considered ‘exceptional circumstances’ as all restrictions have been lifted and under UK261, per the guidance of the UK aviation regulator, covid generally cannot be used as an excuse to deny statutory compensation – on what basis can they justify deviating from such guidance? You can rely on EC or UK261 for a flight between Ireland and the UK.

    brian

    Thanks again @JDB. I will be sure to keep this thread updated on any further action I take in case it assists with others in future.

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