If you’d assumed that all the airline chaos of the past months would only last through to the end of the summer… well, think again. Still struggling with staff shortages, the aviation industry looks set to be disrupted well into 2023. We know, we know: it’s incredibly frustrating.
In fact, some airlines have already started cutting flights from their schedules well into the winter, with more to come. Here’s everything we know so far about the new wave of flight cancellations – and what you can do about it.
Why are airlines cancelling flights?
There are several reasons why airlines are cutting back on their flight schedules, but it’s chiefly due to staff shortages. Airlines and airports around the world made many staff redundant during the pandemic, thereby reducing the number of passengers they could handle. However, when air travel picked up again in the spring, the aviation industry didn’t account for such high demand and so couldn’t cope with passenger numbers. Oops.
Making things harder is the fact that, due to added security checks and training, it takes much longer to hire people for the aviation industry than most other jobs. So airlines are struggling to get back up to speed quickly enough to match demand.
Which airlines are cancelling flights?
US-based carrier American Airlines is cutting 31,000 flights in November alone, which amounts to about 16 percent of its entire schedule. The airports bearing the brunt of the cuts are Chicago O’Hare, Dallas-Fort Worth, Boston Logan and Philadelphia.
BA has said it will be cancelling 10,000 short-haul flights to and from London Heathrow airport from October 2022 until March 2023, amounting to a reduction of eight percent on its usual winter service.
Over 4,000 Delta Airlines routes in the US will be cut across the board in November.
Due to staff shortages at its hub Frankfurt International, German national carrier Lufthansa has announced it’ll be cutting flights up until the end of March. It hasn’t yet specified how many flights will be cancelled – we’ll keep you posted when more details are announced.
SAS Scandinavian Airlines
SAS is losing 1,600 flights from its September and October schedule, which it says have been caused by a pilots’ strike in July and the delayed delivery of several new aircraft.
Recently named the worst airline for flight delays at UK airports, Wizz Air is cutting nearly all of its flights from Cardiff from September until at least March. The only Wizz Air flights that will be taking off from Cardiff this winter are those to Milan and Bucharest.
How do I check if my flight is cancelled?
If there’s any change to your booking, your airline should automatically inform you. However, you should also be able to check the status of your booking with your airline or travel agent, either by logging in to your booking online or by giving their customer helpline a call. It never hurts to check on the airport’s site or app either.
What do I do if my flight is cancelled?
If your flight is cancelled, the airline should offer to put you on another flight. Usually, this means getting a route that leaves a little earlier or later than planned.
However, sometimes your airline won’t have an alternative flight. In this case, if you find another route with another airline, your original carrier should compensate you. Make sure you keep the receipts.
It’s worth noting that, around the world, rules vary for different countries and airlines. If in doubt, check your airline’s terms and conditions.
Can I claim cancelled flight compensation?
Different airlines offer different amounts of compensation, so this is also something to check for in your carrier’s Ts and Cs.
If your flight has been cancelled but you don’t want to catch another flight, you’ll usually be guaranteed a full refund.
However, there are other things you can claim compensation for. If you are substantially delayed, you can usually claim compensation for the amount of delay. In the EU, for instance, you’re entitled to money back if your flight arrives three or more hours later than expected.
You can also claim compensation for other expenses caused by the delay. If you’ve had to buy any food or drink because of the delay, you’ll usually be able to claim these back. In all cases, you’ll only be able to claim back ‘reasonable’ amounts (so don’t go off to any Michelin-starred establishments) and you’ll need to provide receipts.
Should you take the offer of a rearranged flight and find out it’s not until the next day, your airline should also provide free accommodation, as well as free transport to and from that accommodation. You can also book accommodation and transport yourself and claim it back later – though, as with food and drink, it’s best to not overspend and keep the receipts.
Flying at the moment can be a pretty stressful business, so it’s helpful to know your options. As a general rule, it’s best to read the terms and conditions before booking (yes, actually read them). And if you want extra-sure peace of mind, take out travel insurance. Good luck!