Travel chaos: The operators reporting issues – and how to claim a refund

Simon Calder discusses Easter travel chaos

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Many people have been looking to take advantage of an Easter getaway with schools breaking up for their traditional holiday period. However, thousands have seen their plans scuppered by delays at airports and ferry terminals across the UK.

During the last week, staff shortages forced more than 100 flights a day to remain grounded.

Ferry operators are equally struggling to meet demand after P&O suspended all of its services.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he was “very concerned” about the level of disruption and called on travel operators to “redouble their efforts” to ensure everyone travelling abroad “can get away as smoothly as possible”.

The Government has been accused by the Labour Party of being “missing in action”.

Which operators are reporting issues?

On Saturday, British Airways said staff sickness had led to it cancelling three flights overnight on top of its planned cancellations.

Long-haul passengers have been recommended by the firm to arrive three hours before their flight and short-haul travellers two hours.

Meanwhile, some 40 flights have been cancelled in advance by EasyJet.

Both companies have said that fewer flights were cancelled on Saturday compared with previous days.

Flight disruption has also affected Heathrow, Gatwick and Birmingham airports.

The combination of bad weather and suspended services from P&O have created a backlog of passengers waiting to leave British shores.

On Friday, ferry company DFDS reported delays of two hours on its services from Dover to Calais.

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What to do if your flight is cancelled?

You will be entitled to a full refund for your ticket if your flight was cancelled in the two weeks before its departure date and you have chosen to abandon the whole trip rather than find another way to get to your destination.

Although the UK is no longer a member of the European Union (EU), regulation 261/2004 compensation rules from the bloc give you the same rights to claim repayments as you had before Brexit.

The ruling is still in place as it was written into UK law.

Conversely, if your flight was short-haul – less than 1,500km – you are entitled to compensation of £220 a passenger.

The figure grows to £350 for middle-distance flights of 1,500 to 3,500km.

And long haul destinations of more than 3,500 km away are covered up to £520.

Disruptions to flights have been created by high levels of crew absences, in part related to Covid infections, but also because airlines may not have rehired enough staff since lockdowns eased.

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