Ryanair Cancelling Thousands of Flights — Know Your Rights

Sep 17, 2017

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Don’t you hate it when miscommunication with your boss messes up your vacation? Well, Ryanair says it “messed up in the planning of pilot holidays” and now Europe’s largest airline is cancelling “40 to 50 flights daily for the next six weeks.” However, based on cancellation data so far, the airline is actually cancelling somewhere between 50 and more than 80 flights each day.

Based on an analysis by Bloomberg, the 40-50 cancellations per day would impact between 308,000 and 385,000 passengers across the six week period. Put another way, if you consider Ryanair’s 189-seat aircraft and impressive 97% load factor, over 9,000 passengers each day face cancellations at 50 flight cancellations per day. For the 82 cancellations on Saturday, that means approximately 15,000 passengers suddenly faced a change of plans. A Ryanair spokesperson refers to this as “the small number of customers affected by these cancellations.”

If you’re curious as to whether your flight is cancelled, the Ryanair website doesn’t indicate any issues. In fact it’s advertising for more passengers to book flights through its Autumn Getaway promo:

Ryanair website homepage during cancellations

It’s only on the company’s Facebook page where there’s a statement about the cancellations and a link to check flight cancellations for the next five days.


On that site, the airline notes that “Up to 50 flights per day (less than 2% of flights) have been cancelled for the next six weeks.” We’re not sure if the “less than 2%” is supposed to make you feel better if your flight was cancelled, but the “up to 50 flights a day” definitely isn’t accurate. While the airline only provides specific flight cancellations for five days — in hard-to-analyze PDFs — the cancellations are higher than 50 for each day it’s published:

Beyond Wednesday, no cancellations have been announced on the website and customers are not receiving cancellation emails. The airline merely promises to “continue to send regular updates and post flight information on our website.”

The top-voted comment on the Facebook post sums up the absurdity:

The good news is that Ryanair is subject to passenger-friendly European Union regulations requiring rebooking or compensation. This might be why the airline “will be doing our utmost to arrange alternative flights and/or full refunds for [passengers].” If the airline doesn’t arrange alternative flights within narrowly-defined windows, the airline is required to pay compensation. The EU Passenger Rights website explains when you are not entitled to compensation:

If you are informed more than 14 days in advance

If you are informed between 2 weeks and 7 days before the scheduled departure and you are offered re-routing which would allow you:

  • to depart no more than 2 hours before the original scheduled time of departure and
  • to reach your final destination less than 4 hours after the original scheduled time of arrival

If you are informed less than 7 days before the scheduled departure and are offered re-routing which would allow you:

  • to depart no more than 1 hour before the original scheduled time of departure and
  • to reach your final destination less than 2 hours after the original scheduled time of arrival.

If the airline doesn’t meet these requirements, the airline is forced to pay compensation based on the length of flight and whether an alternative was offered:

If the flight distance is:

  • 1500km or less the amount payable is €250
  • 1500km – 3500km and all EU flights over 3500km the amount payable is €400
  • 3500km or more the amount payable is €600.

The compensation will be reduced by 50% if an airline can offer rerouting to the final destination that does not exceed:

  • two hours for flights of less than 1500km;
  • three hours for flights between 1500km and 3500km; and
  • four hours for flights over 3500km

And it’s important to note that “Both the outbound and return flights are considered as two separate flights even if they were booked as part of one reservation.”

So if you’ve got a Ryanair flight booked through the end of October, make sure to keep an eye on your inbox over the next few weeks for a cancellation email. And if you haven’t booked your intra-Europe flights yet, you might want to avoid Ryanair for the next six weeks if you’ve got inflexible travel plans.

Have you been impacted by these Ryanair cancellations?

Featured image by NurPhoto / Getty Images.

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