With so many cancellations due to staff shortages at airlines and airports, flying can feel like a lottery. So it pays to know where you can expect the least possible disruption and what exactly are your rights if things go wrong.
Travel data companies report that Stansted has the fewest cancellations, with Liverpool, Birmingham and Leeds Bradford also performing well. In London, Heathrow has done better than Gatwick. The best airlines, with fewest cancellations, are Jet2.com and Ryanair.
In Europe, the countries with the fewest cancellations/delays come out as Malta, Croatia and Iceland, with Spain, Germany and France the worst. Here’s our guide to flying off this summer…
Travel data companies report that Stansted has the fewest cancellations, with Liverpool, Birmingham and Leeds Bradford also performing well. In London, Heathrow has done better than Gatwick. The best airlines, with fewest cancellations, are Jet2.com and Ryanair
PICK OF THE BUNCH: JET2
Of the mainstream airlines, Jet2.com has performed remarkably well, with a mere 11 departures cancelled within 72 hours of travel out of a total of 9,299 since the beginning of May — making it a good choice for a summer getaway.
Compensation procedure: Go to the ‘Delays and Disruptions’ page of Jet2.com and complete the form.
Jet2 said: ‘We took action to recruit well ahead of the bounce back… you only have to look at our fully-staffed check-in desks to see the difference between ourselves and other airlines’
Future cancellations: Only two cancellations are planned for the rest of the summer and these are down to ‘routine review purposes’.
What the airline says: ‘We took action to recruit well ahead of the bounce back… you only have to look at our fully-staffed check-in desks to see the difference between ourselves and other airlines.’
DOING WELL: RYANAIR
Ryanair said that full flight schedules will operate this summer ‘unlike at many other airlines, which have failed to plan adequately for the return of travel post Covid’
Given the size of its operation, with some 134.5 million passengers a year, Ryanair has handled the crisis well, with only 56 cancelled departures within 72 hours out of a whopping 23,600 flights since the start of May. This is the best of the budget airlines.
Compensation procedure: The ‘EU-261 Passenger Rights’ page of help.ryanair.com has details; customers affected should be contacted by the airline about making a claim.
Future cancellations: None scheduled, although staff strikes could be an issue in Spain on July 12-15, July 18-21 and July 25-28.
What the airline says: Full flight schedules will operate this summer ‘unlike at many other airlines, which have failed to plan adequately for the return of travel post Covid’. It predicts ‘minimal disruption’ in Spain due to strikes.
SOME TURBULENCE: TUI
Tui said that all ‘planned’ cancellations were communicated in May. Andrew Flintham, managing director of TUI UK and Ireland, said: ‘Last-minute flight delays and cancellations are always deeply regrettable’
TUI has not been flawless, with 34 cancellations since the beginning of May affecting around 6,000 customers. All ‘planned’ cancellations were communicated in May. This does not, however, rule out ‘unplanned’ ones that may come at the last minute.
Compensation procedure: The airline says it informs customers who are due compensation under the European Union rule 261.
Future cancellations: None are scheduled. Plans to operate a full service.
What the airline says: Andrew Flintham, managing director of TUI UK and Ireland, said: ‘Last-minute flight delays and cancellations are always deeply regrettable and disappointing for customers… we’re confident we’ve got the staff we need to get customers away on their well-deserved holidays.’
COULD DO BETTER: WIZZ AIR
Wizz Air has cancelled at short notice 146 flights, affecting around 22,000 people, since May – not a good record
There have been worrying stories of last-minute cancellations at Wizz Air, with some passengers being turned back at the boarding gate. To have cancelled at short notice 146 flights, affecting around 22,000 people, since May is not a good record.
Compensation procedure: Go to the ‘Refunds and Cancellations’ page of wizz.com, then click through on the ‘Claim Form’ at the bottom.
Future cancellations: The airline has cancelled over half its flights to and from Doncaster Sheffield Airport. Details of services at other airports unavailable.
What the airline says: ‘Wizz Air constantly reviews its flight schedule to ensure it is deliverable, and recognising the impact of continued supply chain issues, has already implemented the majority of its summer schedule adjustments.’
POOR: BRITISH AIRWAYS
BA has cancelled, since the beginning of May, 670 flights, affecting as many as 110,000 people
Last-minute cancellations (within three days of travel) have been commonplace at BA since the beginning of May: 670 cancellations in total, affecting as many as 110,000 people. Having estimated that 10 per cent of flights during the main holiday period were being cancelled, the airline recently upped this by 3 per cent to 13 per cent.
Compensation procedure: Go to the ‘Complaints and Claims’ page of ba.com to follow links to make a claim. BA could not say whether it contacts customers.
Future cancellations: 13 per cent of flights cancelled from April to October; around 30,000 in total, with as many as 4.5 million passengers affected.
What the airline says: Additional recent cancellations of flights at the end of June were ‘regrettable’, and most passengers with cancelled flights are being informed way in advance.
EasyJet cabin crews in Spain are due to strike on July 15-17 and July 29-31. See the airline’s ‘Delays and Cancellations’ webpage for details
It is estimated that 172,000 EasyJet passengers have suffered cancellations within 72 hours of departure since the beginning of May. This covers 1,144 flights, and at 3.6 per cent of all flights is the worst performance in our chart.
Compensation procedure: The ‘Compensation Claim Form’ page at easyjet.com is at least clear and user-friendly.
Future cancellations: Watch out as EasyJet cabin crews in Spain are due to strike on July 15-17 and July 29-31. See the airline’s ‘Delays and Cancellations’ webpage for details. It is thought that as many as 10,000 flights could be cancelled between July and September, affecting 1.5 million people.
What the airline says: ‘We have completed the pre-emptive cancellation programme, so customers will have been notified.’
Flight from Lisbon to London cancelled on the day, a £1.50-a-minute helpline and ‘no support to get me home’: Passenger reveals why she’ll ‘never use Wizz Air again’
By Ted Thornhill
A British holidaymaker has vowed never to use Wizz Air again after the airline cancelled her flight from Portugal to London with just eight hours’ notice – and was unable to help with rebooking an alternative flight or finding hotel accommodation.
The passenger, Alicia Fellowes, was due to fly from Lisbon to London Luton with her boyfriend, Oliver, on Sunday, June 26, at 10pm – flight W9 4494 – but received a text message at 2pm informing her that the flight was cancelled, along with a link for a refund or ‘Wizz Credit’ that didn’t work.
The pair needed to return for work commitments the following day – but the next Wizz Air flight was three days later. As a result, they were forced to spend nearly £700 on a flight to Manchester with Air Portugal that landed that evening and £144 on an airport hotel. Alicia spent £33 on a train to London the following day, while Oliver paid £154 for a flight from Manchester to Inverness instead of from Luton as planned.
Holidaymaker Alicia Fellowes has revealed how her flight from Lisbon Airport (above) with Wizz Air was cancelled on the day – and says the airline offered no support to get her back to London. She was forced to fly with her boyfriend to Manchester with Air Portugal and catch a train to the capital from there
Alicia, 25, summed up the experience to MailOnline Travel as ‘horrendous’.
When a flight is cancelled within 14 days of departure, the airline the passenger booked with is legally obliged to get them home and must offer free phone calls and accommodation.
Alicia revealed that none of this was forthcoming – and in fact spent over 50 minutes on the phone to Wizz Air while at Lisbon Airport at a cost of £1.50 per minute.
The Budapest-based airline has a ‘live chat’ service, but Alicia said that didn’t work.
She said: ‘We were given no explanation as to why the flight was cancelled or any support following the cancellation – there were no Wizz Air ground staff at Lisbon Airport and no guidance offered as to how best to get home. We were offered no financial support to book another flight.
‘At the airport we were told to go to a help desk where an agent could speak to us on behalf of the airline. However, the agent made it very clear that as they didn’t work for the airline there was very little they could do. They gave us a Wizz Air cancellation form that highlights the compensation you are entitled to.
Alicia revealed that she spent over 50 minutes on the phone to Wizz Air while at Lisbon Airport (above) at a cost of £1.50 per minute
‘They also told us the next flight wasn’t for three days so suggested we either find a hotel for the next three days in Lisbon – they couldn’t book this for us and offer us spending money for the three days so that would have to be an additional cost – and then fly home, or call the Wizz Air helpline to see if they would cover another flight home with another airline.’
So Alicia rang the Wizz Air helpline.
After three denied calls by Wizz Air, having been on hold for over 15 minutes in total, she got through to an operator ‘who seemed very unsure what Wizz Air could offer in terms of compensation’.
Alicia continued: ‘I mentioned that we had found a flight to Manchester and asked if the airline would book the flight for us or cover the cost. She said she thought they would cover that along with transport back to London but couldn’t book it themselves and said it would be unlikely that the airline would cover the cost of an airport hotel, even though we had to stay in Manchester as the flight landed so late.
‘I informed her of the significant costs of the flight, and she said it should be fine as long as we weren’t flying premium economy or above.
‘I felt positive at this point, but then she started to backtrack, saying she couldn’t send us an email confirmation confirming approval of these expenses directly and said we would just have to submit a claim and hope.’
At this point, Alicia and Oliver booked the flight to Manchester and then decided to call Wizz Air again ‘to see if someone could confirm a refund/expenses via email’.
‘I really started to feel anxious about the money we spent,’ said Alicia, ‘and this woman was even less reassuring, saying she would hope the airline would give me a refund, but couldn’t promise anything.’
Alicia, who lives in London, said: ‘We feel scammed and very angry at how badly [Wizz Air] could treat paying customers’
When Alicia discovered these calls cost £1.50 a minute, she decided to avoid using the helpline.
Wizz Air has since refunded Alicia and Oliver £119, but that still leaves them nearly £1,000 out of pocket.
Alicia, who lives in London, added: ‘We feel scammed and very angry at how badly they could treat paying customers. I will never ever use them again and have told others not to use them either.’
Unfortunately, her experience with Wizz Air will be all too familiar for some.
Dozens have taken to Twitter and Tripadvisor to complain about the airline cancelling flights, then leaving them stranded.
And MailOnline Travel heard from Wizz Air passenger Fenella Barrons, who claims that she has been left over £1,000 out of pocket after the airline overbooked a flight to Montenegro and cancelled the return service.
The 25-year-old said: ‘On May 29, 2022, my five friends and I travelled to Gatwick Airport for a Wizz Air flight to Montenegro. Although we had attempted check in the night prior, upon arrival one friend and I were told they had overbooked the flight and we would be “lucky to get on the flight”.
‘It turned out we were not “lucky” and we were denied boarding after two hours of waiting for the delayed flight.
‘We therefore had to rebook a flight for the following day from Heathrow, arriving at our destination over 24 hours later. This cost us over £400.
‘On Saturday, June 4, when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, it was time to fly home with Wizz Air. Wizz Air sent us an email two hours before check-in time saying the flight was cancelled. Following this, I received no correspondence or advice from Wizz Air to help with the situation I found myself in and felt completely abandoned in a foreign country.
I will never ever use Wizz Air again and have told others not to use them either
Holidaymaker Alicia Fellowes
‘No advice was given on the availability of alternative travel options, when the next Wizz Air flight might be, or any useful information to help me through this stressful situation.
‘Given we had to get back for work on the Monday, we took it upon ourselves to book flights to Paris, which then resulted in us getting a train across France and an overnight ferry from France to Portsmouth. Again, this cost us roughly £400 each.
‘Since then, we have constantly been trying to get hold of Wizz Air for the compensation we are due. I have personally had no response from the company. My friend has had a response denying the claim, saying she is due only 70 euros for the inconvenience when we are both over £1,000 out of pocket. This has caused me a huge amount of stress and anxiety. I have had to take time off work to deal with the stress it has caused me and I am now living cautiously with little to no spare cash.’
Rory Boland, Which? Travel Editor, clarified what passengers who experience flight cancellations should expect in terms of support.
He told MailOnline Travel: ‘When a flight is cancelled within 14 days of departure, passengers are entitled to at least £220 compensation, depending on the length of the flight. Importantly, the airline you booked with is legally obliged to get you home, using other carriers if necessary. Be wary of accepting a refund, as once you do so, the airline has no legal duty of care to you.
‘If you are left with no choice other than to pay for flights, accommodation or food from your own pocket then you should keep receipts and claim them back from the airline. It’s important to remember that expenses must be deemed “reasonable” to qualify for reimbursement.
‘When a flight is cancelled or delayed due to an extraordinary circumstance, your airline is not obliged to offer compensation. However, if you choose to be rerouted they must still offer assistance in the form of two free phone calls, faxes or emails, free meals and refreshments appropriate to the delay, and free accommodation and hotel transfers if an overnight stay is required, as it was in Alicia’s case.
‘Extraordinary circumstances apply to events which are outside the airline’s control. While operational issues at the airport could be classified as an extraordinary circumstance, you are entitled to appeal their decision and apply for compensation if you disagree with the reason given. If they reject the claim, they must provide clear evidence of the reason for the cancellation.
‘If at this point you are still dissatisfied with the airline’s decision, you can register your complaint with an alternative dispute resolution scheme – the Civil Aviation Authority holds a list of approved providers and which airlines they cover. You also have the right to take an airline to the small claims court if you feel it is unfairly refusing to pay you compensation. If you decide to take this route, it is recommended to seek legal advice.’
Wizz Air said: ‘Wizz Air has looked into the issues raised in these customer cases and found that their claims were rejected due to an internal error. Wizz Air sincerely apologises for this. Ms Fellowes will be reimbursed in line with the expense claims submitted as well as for the difference in cost between the original Wizz Air flight and the replacement flight.
‘The two affected passengers under Ms Barrons’ booking will be reimbursed in line with the expenses claims submitted, and will be compensated according to EC 261 regulation. The customer service team is resolving both of these cases as a matter of priority.’