Reader question: What are my EU compensation rights in the case of a flight being cancelled due to a strike? J.S.
EU compensation rights apply to flights within the EU, ones arriving in France from outside the EU with an EU airline, and to all flights departing the EU.
The UK maintained essentially the same rules post-Brexit for UK departures, meaning flights leaving there are covered too.
In all cases, in the event of cancellation, you are entitled to choose between a refund (and return to the departure point if the flight cancelled was a connecting one) or an alternative flight at the earliest opportunity (or at your convenience), subject to availability of seats.
In addition, you may be entitled to financial compensation for the inconvenience.
However, this is not the case if you were informed of the cancellation with more than 14 days’ notice, or were offered rerouting involving minimal difference in departure and arrival times.
If you ask for reimbursement, the amount of extra compensation depends on the type of flight cancelled, and ranges from €250 for short-haul flights to €400 for flights of more than 1,500km within the EU and other flights from 1,500-3,500km, or otherwise €600 for longer flights outside the EU.
Compensation if rerouted depends both on the length of the flight and how late you arrive compared to original plans, and, where applicable, is from €125 to €600.
No compensation (on top of the refund/rerouting) is payable in the case of ‘extraordinary circumstances’ which could not have been avoided by the airline even if all ‘reasonable’ measures were taken.
In answer to your question, the European Court of Justice has ruled (April 27, 2018, and March 23, 2021) that a strike by air crews is not an ‘extraordinary circumstance’. You are therefore entitled to compensation unless warned over 14 days before.
In the case of a dispute, you should make a written complaint to the airline. If this fails, you may seek help from the relevant médiateur. The firm should tell you who this is, if asked – usually, mtv.travel or mediateurseuropeens.org