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Ryanair Flight Cancellations - What Are Your Rights?

If you’re one of the thousands of Ryanair customers affected by the recently-announced flight cancellations, you’re probably wondering what your options are. We’ll discuss your rights under EU Regulation 261/2004 and talk you through your options regarding refunds, re-routing, compensation, etc.

If you'd like to go directly to Ryanair to see which flights have been cancelled or to apply for a refund or re-route a cancelled flight, click here.

EU Regulation 261/2004

Regulation 261/2004 of the European Parliament and Council is designed to protect consumers in the event of denied boarding, long delays and cancelled flights, through compensation and assistance. These rules basically apply to all flights departing from an EU airport (regardless of carrier) and flights arriving at an EU airport (which are operated by a European airline).

In terms of the cancelled Ryanair flights, we’ll discuss the most relevant sections of EU261—Articles 5 ("Cancellation"), 7 ("Right to Compensation"), 8 ("Right to reimbursement or re-routing") and 9 ("Right to care").

Cancelled Flight? Choose Re-Route or Refund

Everyone with a cancelled Ryanair flight should be given the option to choose either a full refund or to be re-routed.

Refund

A refund refers to reimbursement of the full price you paid for your ticket for:

  • any part(s) of the trip not made AND
  • for part(s) already made if the flight no longer serves a purpose regarding the original travel plan

Reimbursement is to be made within 7 days , in the form of cash, electronic bank transfer, bank orders or bank cheques. Additionally, payment can be made via travel vouchers – but only if the passenger agrees.

Re-Route

If instead you choose re-routing, the airline should provide comparable transport conditions to your final destination at your choice of:

  • the earliest opportunity OR
  • a later date if preferred by the passenger

By opting for a re-booked flight, you should be entitled to

  • Meals and (non-alcoholic) drinks, according to your wait time
  • Two telephone calls, faxes or e-mails
  • Reasonable hotel accommodation, where required
  • Reasonable transport between airport and hotel

Compensation Payment

Not everyone with a cancelled Ryanair flight will get compensation. It depends on the notice time AND whether or not Ryanair can offer similar flight times. Below you can find details of the rules to determine if you should be compensated.

You should be compensated by Ryanair if you are…
Notified between 1 and 2 weeks before scheduled departureANDre-routed departure is more than 2 hours before scheduled departure or re-routed arrival is more than 4 hours after original arrival
Notified less than 1 week before scheduled depatureANDre-routed departure is more than 1 hour before scheduled departure or re-routed arrival is more than 2 hours after original arrival
You won’t be compensated by Ryanair if you are…
Notified at least two weeks before the scheduled departure time
Notified between 1 and 2 weeks before scheduled departureANDre-routed departure is less than 2 hours before original departure or re-routed arrival is less than 4 hours after original arrival
Notified less than 1 week before scheduled depatureANDre-routed departure is less than 1 hour before original departure or re-routed arrival is less than 2 hours after original arrival

Beware - Refund Means No Compensation

Please note: If you take the refund option (instead of the re-route option), you may not get compensation under EU 261! The rules are quite confusing so we've had an in-depth read through EU 261 and also chatted with Ryanair customer service. They confirmed that you can only claim compensation if you opt for a re-routed flight and the previous rules (surrounding notification period and arrival/departure times) are satisfied. You may not get compensation if you've taken the refund instead. If you're thinking about taking a refund, we urge you to ask Ryanair if you can still claim compensation.

Compensation Amounts

Assuming you will be compensated (according to the previous sections), the amount of compensation for a cancelled flight depends upon the flight length (km) and whether your flight is within the EU or not.

GeographyFlight LengthCompensation
Within EU< 1500 kmEUR 250
> 1500 kmEUR 400
Leaving or Entering the EU< 1500 kmEUR 250
1500 km - 3500 kmEUR 400
> 3500 kmEUR 600

If you are deemed to be less inconvenienced, then your compensation may go down. Ryanair would only be obligated to pay 50% of the above-mentioned compensation when the new arrival time is:

  • less than 2 hours later (for flights < 1500 km)
  • less than 3 hours later (for intra-EU flights > 1500 km for all other flights between 1500 km - 3500 km)
  • less than 4 hours later (for non intra-EU flights > 3500 km)

Extraordinary Circumstances

Under “extraordinary circumstances,” compensation is not required to be paid by the airlines. Extraordinary circumstances include political instability, meteorological conditions incompatible with the flight, security risks, flight safety shortcomings and strikes. Additionally, air traffic management decisions that result in a flight being significantly delayed or cancelled are considered extraordinary circumstances.

Ryanair cancelling flights due to errors in pilot holiday scheduling does not fall into any of these categories, as far as we can tell, therefore Ryanair would be obligated to pay compensation, according to the terms listed above.

Comments and Questions

The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.