Aer Lingus passengers in line for up to €600 compensation if flights are cancelled or delayed

Compensation applies if fewer than 14 days notice of changes to travel plans are given to customers

The work to rule announced by pilots on Tuesday will take effect from one minute past midnight on June 26th. Photograph: Collins

Aer Lingus passengers whose flights are cancelled or significantly delayed because of industrial action at the airline in the weeks ahead will be entitled to compensation of up to €600 per person as long as they are given fewer than 14 days notice of any changes.

The level of compensation will depend on distance of the cancelled or delayed flight, with short-haul passengers entitled to €250 per person, €400 for medium-haul flights and €600 per person for long haul.

The work to rule announced by pilots on Tuesday will take effect from one minute past midnight on June 26th, and is set to continue indefinitely. It means pilots will not work overtime or outside of contracted or rostered hours.

The measure will not ground all Aer Lingus flights but it will lead to disruption and delays, with a high likelihood of some cancellations as pilots and crew are regularly called on to work out of hours to allow the airline address its staffing issues.


A potential strike also remains an option for the Irish Airline Pilots Association (Ialpa) trade union, which reported 99 per cent support among pilots for industrial action in pursuit of a 20 per cent-plus pay claim in a second ballot this week.

Passengers must also be compensated if they arrive at their destination three hours or more after the scheduled arrival time – or slightly longer for some long-haul routes – unless Aer Lingus can prove the delay was the result of extraordinary circumstances.

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The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has made it clear that any internal industrial action that leads to delays or cancellations is not considered to be “extraordinary circumstances” and stressed the importance of consumers understanding their rights.

It also said it would be “essential for airlines to act quickly to protect [those] rights in all circumstances”.

“Strikes by baggage handlers or other groups external to the airline may be considered extraordinary circumstances, but strikes by airline staff – referred to as internal strikes – are not considered extraordinary circumstances and so any compensation due under EU regulations must be paid,” a spokeswoman said.

The compensation payments will be on top of any refund or rerouting the airline has to offer as a result of flight cancellations or delays.

Compensation will not be payable to passengers if the airline can give them at least 14 days’ notice of a cancellation. Aer Lingus has denied this get-out clause in EU regulations was behind its call for Ialpa to give it 15 days’ notice of any industrial action.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland on Tuesday, Donal Moriarty of Aer Lingus said Ialpa seems “absolutely determined to inflict the disruption of industrial action on the travelling public this summer. Inevitably, if they do, it will involve much disruption for our customers.”

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He said Aer Lingus was “preparing for that and we are communicating with our customers and try to lay out the options they have to minimise that disruption”.

“We will fulfil all of our compensation obligations,” he said. “We have no difficulty in refunding, reaccommodating or compensating customers where compensation is necessary,” he added.

Speaking on Monday, Captain Mark Tighe of Ialpa said it would consider the request for extended notice but warned it would give the airline “the right to deny passengers their compensation”. He said Ialpa did not want to see passengers’ plans left in disarray but if that happened, “we want them to be properly compensated”.

Anyone who has any issues accessing compensation due to delays or cancellations as a result of any industrial action at Aer Lingus will be able to lodge a complaint through the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), which is responsible for enforcing these rights in Ireland.

The chief executive of the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) Clare Dunne, said its members have been fielding calls from people with holidays booked that include flights with Aer Lingus. She stressed that travel agents would be working closely with those who have holidays booked if there were disruptions caused by any industrial action.

She said that as well as the potential loss of days of holidays, there was an element of “stress at what should be a happy time for people who are looking forward to their holidays. The anticipation is just as important as the holiday and now nobody knows what is going to happen and that puts a stress and strain on people.”

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor