Consumer expert: Cheap flights - the plane truth

A Ryanair plane.
A Ryanair plane.

On a list of the worst things which could happen to you when on holiday, having your flight home cancelled is pretty near the top.

And in the last few weeks, hundreds of thousands of people have been affected by exactly that.

First it was Ryanair’s decision to cancel three quarter of a million of passenger journeys because of problems with pilots’ holidays.

All in all it’s not been a good time for budget airlines. But it’s been worse for their passengers - especially when they were also given incorrect information in terms of their consumer rights.

It’s hard to imagine the stress of all those stranded abroad - with work and family commitments dependent on their return.

However it’s surely only made worse when companies involved fail in their duties to customers. Ryanair cancelled flights between September and March next year due to staff shortages.

And scandalously for those stranded, it appears the airline didn’t tell them of their full rights: getting peo- ple to agree to a refund rather than a flight home with an alternate airline.

It got so bad that the Civil Aviation Authority said Ryanair was “not complying with the law” by its failure to inform passengers of their rights to be brought home by a different airline.

Ryanair has since promised to ensure that all those affect- ed know their full rights, but this whole episode will leave many doubting the airline’s commitment to its customers.

Those booked with Monarch had it slightly better. The CAA chartered 30 planes to bring people back home, as it can step in and take control in the event of an airline’s collapse.

For those due to fly with Monarch in the future, they can claim on their travel insurance or their debit or credit card provider while package holidays will be Atol protected.

Without a doubt though, for many people, the idea of travelling with a budget air- line is now looking increasingly risky.

Send me your consumer queries at askalex@which.co.uk