Third time’s a charm, eh? Finally it seems like Aer Lingus workers will carry through with their threat and bring flights to a halt on May 30 - just as the bank holiday weekend and peak summer season kicks off.
It’s the third time they’ve called a strike in a year and, however Aer Lingus management feels about it, it’s a sure bet that holiday-makers, tourists and commuting workers are thoroughly annoyed by it all.
Aer Lingus has at least put its hands up to the public as best as it can by offering a rescheduled flight or a refund.
If you have the flexibility you can travel on any date between now and June 9 at no extra cost, to your original destination.
If you simply can’t change dates, my advice is to take the refund and book with Ryanair or another carrier.
You may of course end up paying more, or arrive at a less convenient destination, but Ryanair’s flights will book up faster now as the strike looms closer.
Hopefully there’ll be no opportunistic jacking up of prices from Michael O Leary.
It’s worth noting that not every flight is affected on May 30. Regional services, many to UK airports, are operational, as are flights to New York and Chicago.
Check the Aer Lingus website for information, although affected passengers should have received an email outlining their options by now.
Generally speaking, air travel is one of the most tightly regulated, consumer-friendly areas, so your rights are enshrined in legislation.
Delays and cancellations fall under the Montreal Convention, so Aer Lingus knew what they had to offer, regardless of the cost.
If a flight is cancelled you must be offered a rescheduled alternative, a refund or “care and assistance” while you wait until the next available one, including meals, refreshments, two calls, hotel accommodation and transport if necessary.
EU rules say you are also entitled to additional compensation but don’t get too excited: although it is ranges from €250 to €600 depending on the length of the flight, there’s a get out’ clause for airlines if it informed passengers of the intended cancellation two weeks in advance, which was the case here.
Indeed, if it’s down to “extraordinary circumstances” which isn’t wholly defined in the law, or they took steps to avoid the cancellation, you’re stuffed for extra compo.
So, although you might already have paid, say, for a night’s accommodation somewhere and now can’t travel, the airline doesn’t have to compensate you for that in these circumstances.
For general delays, the same “care and assistance” entitlement is also dependent on flight length - for two hours or more where the flight is 1,500km or less; three hours for flights of 1,500km-3,500km or 4 hours for longer haul.
Check out flightrights.ie or the Commission for Aviation Regulation www.aviaionreg.ie for a run down.