Lonely Planet Writer

How this airline strike will affect travel in Europe tomorrow

Ryanair, one of Europe’s largest airlines, is facing two separate strike actions in July, potentially affecting thousands of passengers at one of the busiest travel periods of the year. What do you need to know if you’re planning on travelling with them?

Passengers board a Ryanair airplane at Stansted Airport. Photo by Adam Berry/Getty

These are the proposed strike dates:

Ireland – 12 July for 24 hours
Italy – 25 July for 24 hours
Belgium, Spain and Portugal – 25 and 26 July for 48 hours.

The Irish strike is a dispute with a pilot union over seniority benefits, while in the remainder of the countries the cabin crew want to strike over disagreements over a variety of issues such as their uniform, rosters and disciplinary procedures, to name just a few. But how does this affect passengers?

There’s no need to rearrange your holiday plans just yet. Naturally, both sides will want to come to an agreement before any flights are grounded. If an agreement can’t be made in time, it doesn’t necessarily mean your flight will be cancelled. Not all pilots and cabin crew with Ryanair are employees, some are contractors, which means their shifts will not be affected by industrial action.

Ryanair’s check-in desks at Rome’s Ciampino airport. Photo by Alberto Pizzoli/Getty

With the Irish strike now looming this week, the airline has scheduled talks with the pilots over the next few days. However, if it does go ahead (which at this stage looks likely), they have promised they will start contacting customers by Tuesday, 10 July with further information.

What happens if my flight is cancelled due a strike?

If the worst happens and your flight is cancelled, your airline must offer you a full refund or a flight out at the next available time that suits you, under EU regulations. You are not eligible for any further compensation. However, if you are unable to get home from the airport, it will be Ryanair’s responsibility to cover the cost of food and drink, up to a reasonable standard. If they don’t provide the money upfront, keep your receipts to claim back the cost afterwards.

Flights aren’t affected by the industrial action just yet. Photo by bunhill

If your flight is delayed more than five hours, Ryanair will be legally obliged to offer you a refund on the cost of your flight or a choice to continue to wait. It may be possible to book an earlier flight with another airline, but this is not guaranteed. If a staff member recommends doing this, ask them to provide a guarantee that the airline will refund the cost later in writing to you.

In some cases, your travel insurance may cover your costs but you will need to check your policy beforehand.