Flybe airline goes bust: What are my rights?
What has happened to Flybe and what does it mean for me?
It was announced on 5th March 2020 that Flybe has gone into administration putting over 2,000 jobs at risk. As a result, all flights have been cancelled and Flybe's website advises customers with flights booked not to travel to the airport. In a letter to staff, Flybe's chief executive, Mark Anderson said "Despite every effort, we now have no alternative - having failed to find a feasible solution to allow us to keep trading. I am very sorry that we have not been able to secure the funding needed to continue to deliver our turnaround".
Flybe was a small airline when compared to the likes of British Airways, EasyJet and Ryanair, however, it was a crucial operator for those who wished to travel to and from smaller regional airports within the UK. Its loss has been described as disastrous for smaller UK regions that relied on Flybe as both an employer and an airline operator.
I am due to fly with Flybe, what happens now?
If you have booked onto a Flybe flight in the coming weeks it is now cancelled so you will need to try and re-arrange your flight with another airline.
I flew out with Flybe and am stranded, what now?
Unfortunately, Flybe customers who bought tickets directly are not covered by the Air Travel Organiser's Licence (ATOL) scheme. However, if you booked your holiday through a travel agent or on a credit card you may be able to get your money back or get some help to get re-booked on other flights, as these will be ATOL protected. If you are currently stranded on business or holiday, some airlines may offer 'rescue fares' which are discounted flights in the unfortunate event of an airline going bust. As Flybe operated mainly within the UK, there may be other options available to you such as travelling back by train, coach or you could consider a hire car. Read on to find out if you are able to claim your money back and if so, how to do it.
Am I covered if I paid by credit card?
You can claim money from the credit card company under the Section 75 Act if:
- Flights are over £100
- You paid with your credit card directly through the tour operator or airline website
- You booked through a travel agent (and the name shows on the statement) some companies will give your money back so it is worth contacting them first
- If the flights are below £100 you may have some rights through the chargeback scheme (see below)
For more information on your rights when paying by credit card, read our article, Section 75 Explained - your rights and how to claim.
Am I covered if I paid by debit card?
It is relatively difficult to claim back money if you paid via a debit card (as you are not protected under the Section 75 scheme). There is however a chargeback scheme but it isn't legally binding and therefore isn't guaranteed.
- There is generally a 120-day limit (this does vary depending on the scenario) but the sooner you contact your card provider the better
- Chargeback isn't very well known so you may have trouble asking for it, but be persistent as it does exist
Am I covered if I booked via a travel agent?
All agents in the UK are legally obliged to offer ATOL protection (a scheme run by the Civil Aviation Authority) if they are selling package deals that include air travel.
- Check you are ATOL protected by locating the ATOL certificate that was issued when booking your holiday or by looking on the CAA website
- You are entitled to a full refund
- It is the holiday provider's responsibility to re-arrange your travel
- BUT If you booked with an online travel agent such as Expedia or Skyscanner you may not be covered (as ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday's and travel listed on their website)
Will my travel insurance payout?
Some insurers offer protection in the event of an airline going bust:
- Check your contract to see if you paid for travel insurance to cover for flight cancellations/airline collapse
- Contact your insurance provider
How do I make sure I am covered if an airline like Flybe goes bust?
It is not always something that we consider when purchasing a holiday but in light of Flybe's sudden collapse (and the collapse of other similar airlines in recent years, such as Wow air in March 2019) it is worth making sure you are protected. So you should:
- Take out travel insurance that states explicitly in the terms and conditions that it covers for the collapse of an airline
- Always try to pay via a credit card to ensure you benefit from the protection that Section 75 provides
- Pay / book via a travel agent to ensure you get ATOL protection
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