With no sign of tough rules on international travel easing before the summer peak, Britain’s biggest budget airline is cancelling hundreds of flights in July.
But easyJet is failing to tell disappointed passengers of their full range of options – which include a replacement flight on a different airline.
After the government decided to tighten rather than ease travel restrictions on 3 June, many flights on a wide range of airlines have been cancelled.
In the email telling passengers their planned trip has been axed, easyJet says there are “three options that are available to you”: rebooking for a different easyJet flight, accepting a voucher or taking a refund.
Yet the message does not mention what for many people will be the optimum entitlement: a replacement flight on a different airline at easyJet’s expense.
The only hint in the email to passengers that they may have more rights is the line: “For more information on your entitlements please visit our Delays & Cancellations page.”
Low down on this page is the statement: “If there are no easyJet flights available to get you to your destination within 24 hours, you have the option to transfer to another airline, take a train, bus or hire a car.”
Under European air passengers’ rights rules (”EU261”), which have been replicated by the UK after Brexit, a cancelling airline is required to arrange the replacement journey either “at the earliest opportunity” or “at a later date at the passenger’s convenience, subject to availability of seats”.
But easyJet indicates the passenger is responsible for booking the trip, and says: “The alternative transport must be under comparable transport conditions to your destination and you will be entitled to claim reasonable transport costs back.”
In one example of an Athens-London Gatwick flight cancelled by easyJet for 3 July, there are three alternative flights on Ryanair to London Stansted, while Aegean and British Airways have six departures from the Greek capital to London Heathrow.
The cancelling airline is also responsible for paying for ground transportation back to the original arrival airport.
A spokesperson for the Civil Aviation Authority said: “Passengers who have seen their flights cancelled should be offered the choice of reimbursement for cancelled flights, alternate travel arrangements under comparable conditions at the earliest opportunity which includes flights on other airlines, or a new flight at a later date at the passenger’s convenience.
“We also expect airlines to proactively provide passengers with information about their rights when flights are cancelled.”
A spokesperson for easyJet said: “Due to the recent UK government decision not to further open up travel for the summer we have been required to evaluate our schedule in line with where we see the restrictions impacting demand.
“As a result, we are currently not able to fly as much as we had hoped from the UK and this means some flights will be cancelled.
“All impacted customers are being notified directly and informed of their options which include a refund, a voucher or a free of charge transfer to an alternative flight. The quickest and easiest way for customers to transfer to an alternative easyJet flight is via Manage Bookings or through the easyJet app.
“Customers can contact us to discuss other rerouting options, in line with EU261, and we aim to reroute customers within 24 hours.”