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Flight chaos is the biggest issue at Citizens Advice

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Written by: Emma Lunn
04/07/2019
Problematic flights are the number one issue driving people to the consumer pages of the Citizens Advice website.

Almost 700,000 views of Citizens Advice guidance in the past year concerned issues such as cancelled flights and lost luggage.

With airline staff strikes plaguing would-be holidaymakers last summer, and thunderstorms grounding flights in July, more than a third of these page views were made between June and August 2018.

One person who approached Citizens Advice consumer service for help was stranded in Spain after being delayed for more than 18 hours due to their plane having a punctured tyre. When the plane finally managed to take off, it ended up landing more than 60 miles away from its intended destination of Manchester.

Another person contacted Citizens Advice after her flight to Amsterdam was cancelled due to technical issues with the plane. The airline wasn’t able to put her on a flight for another two days – the day she was supposed to be returning home from her holiday.

Flight compensation rules

If you’re travelling either to or from an EU airport or with an EU airline, under EU rules you might be entitled to compensation of up to €600 if you’re delayed.

The main exception to this is if the delay was due to ‘exceptional circumstances’ such as bad weather. You can check to see if your flight is covered by EU rules on the Civil Aviation Authority’s website.

Depending on the length of the delay and the distance of the flight, the airline may have to help you with food and drink and access to phone calls and emails. It may also have to provide accommodation if you’re delayed overnight.

If your flight is cancelled you have the legal right to either a full refund, a replacement flight (from another airline if necessary) or an alternative flight at a convenient time.

In the event that staff from the airline you’re travelling with are on strike and you’re either delayed or your flight has been cancelled as a result, your rights are the same as with other cancellations or delays. The Citizens Advice website can help you calculate how much compensation, if any, you’re likely to be owed.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Last year, there were almost 700,000 views of our flight advice online. From delayed or cancelled flights to lost luggage, these situations are frustrating and sometimes costly for consumers.

“By making sure you book ATOL-protected flights, have comprehensive travel insurance, and know your rights ahead of time, you can help make your holiday as relaxing as it should be.”

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