Families face Easter holiday disruption with cancelled flights and delays at Dover as P&O cancellations continue
Holidaymakers attempting to get away for the Easter holidays are facing major disruption.
Staff shortages are causing major problems for airlines in the UK while the move by P&O to make 800 crew redundant has left Channel crossings in chaos with none of its ferries sailing since.
Being the first major school break since Covid restrictions were dropped both in England and in many parts of Europe, the Easter holidays were always destined to be a bumper few weeks for the travel industry as it attempted to transport more passengers than it perhaps has done in two years.
But airlines are struggling to keep up with demands and capacity at ports is stretched.
So what happens if your flight is delayed or cancelled or you trip across the Channel is disrupted? Here’s a run down of everything you might need to know.
Can I get compensation for my flight?
The good news is airlines are obliged to fork out if your plane is delayed or cancelled if the issues are its fault.
If disruption is caused on departures from the UK, then you’re covered. But if an issue arises on the return leg, you’ll only get help if you’re travelling with a UK or EU airline. For any journeys with a non-EU airline to a destination outside the UK, you’ll need to check with the individual airline as to its policy or consult your travel insurance.
If however you've missed a flight because of, for example, delays or lengthy queues at airport security there is no legal obligation for airlines to help you with travel and there's isn't a specific route for compensation from the airport itself either. Sometimes airlines will delay flights for stranded passengers struggling to get through security, particularly if significant numbers are affected so the advice at the moment is not to hang around in duty free or delay getting to the gate because you drifted off to have something to eat. The advice is to show staff that you did and are doing everything to get to your flight on time.
What might I be entitled to if there's a delay?
Most airlines will offer tokens for food and drink if your short haul flight is delayed by more than two hours, three hours if it's a mid-haul flight and four hours for long-haul travel.
For longer flight delays you might be eligible for hotel accommodation, if for example your flight has been moved to the next day, and in some cases vouchers for future use depending on the delay and the flight's distance. If your flight is delayed by five hours or more, then you can decide if you wish to cancel and receive a full refund - and this can also be to cover other parts of the journey you won't be able to complete because of the disruption caused.
My flight has been cancelled, what next?
In this instance, you can claim a full refund or you can request the airline book you an alternative flight, even with a different carrier, if one is leaving that day that will get you to your destination and this is at a cost to them.
Legally, you can also ask for compensation if your replacement flight arrives more than two hours later than was originally planned, or if you were given less than 14 days’ notice for a cancellation.
In the first instance you should contact your airline to discuss the alternative options, but if you don't hear back you can turn to the alternative dispute resolution body, the Civil Aviation Authority and it is also worth consulting your travel insurance too to see what your policy covers.
I have a P&O booking, can I travel?
P&O is still experiencing considerable disruption to its sailings with Dover to Calais services all currently suspended and other routes also either not running or operating a reduced service.
Until now any customer with an existing P&O booking has been advised to travel to the port as normal and head for the DFDS check-in booths where they will be directed onto an alternative crossing to France.
However, with the four-day bank holiday now firmly on the horizon and Easter travel ramping up, DFDS sailings are reaching capacity and the company is struggling to make room for and honour all those who had an original booking with P&O.
The latest travel advice says that anyone travelling on April 8, 9 or 10 won't be able to be accommodated by DFDS on arrival and will need to have made a confirmed alternative arrangement with another carrier before setting off.
Anyone travelling from Dover to France on these dates who has no other way of getting there is being asked to contact the P&O customer service team for further help.
My P&O booking is disrupted can I get my money back?
Any customers booked to travel during this period of disruption, says P&O, who consequently choose not to travel or who can't find alternative arrangements because DFDS sailings are full, will be entitled to a refund according to the latest information on the company's website.
All refund requests should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and for further details and the latest sailing updates click here.