Numerous people have been stranded at airports across Europe after finding out their Ryanair flights were cancelled at the last minute, despite the company promising it would tell all travellers in advance.
Cabin crews in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain are all part of the industrial action, along with pilots based in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. Earlier this week, Ryanair “pre-cancelled” a total of 250 flights.
Charlotte Hunter and her family were due to fly home to Newcastle at 7.05am on Friday after a short break in Tenerife. They arrived at the airport, checked in their luggage and went to the departure gate, where the 25-year-old and her family “could seen the plane [sitting] in darkness and no staff”.
“From the front of the queue, people started leaving and saying our flight was cancelled,” she told HuffPost UK. “About half an hour later we received a text to say our flight had been cancelled and we could either apply for a refund or reschedule our flight.”
With no Ryanair flights to Newcastle available until next Thursday, Charlotte and her family will remain at Tenerife South airport until taking a Jet2 flight – which they’ve paid for themselves.
Hunter says she has received “no help at all from Ryanair”, and has vowed: “I won’t travel with them again after this.”
Another holidaymaker, Harriot Bishop, 28, was on her way to Stansted outside London when her partner received a text message stating that their flight had been cancelled.
The couple had been due to fly to Pisa at 8:30am. Ryanair offered them “a refund or the next available flight which was at 8PM, meaning we wouldn’t land until nearly midnight local time”.
“We’ve taken the refund and booked an Easyjet flight from Gatwick for tomorrow first thing,” she says. “We have obviously lost the Air b’n’b money tonight and had to pay to change the car hire.”
Bishop estimates the extra costs at “£280 and of course, we lost a whole day of our holiday.”
“Ryanair have offered a simple apologies for the inconvenience,” she says. “It’s quite shocking.
For some passengers, it’s not just holidays that are at stake. Danielle Breckenridge was hoping to be able to make it to her father’s wedding in eastern Europe with her baby daughter.
The 29-year-old, from Stevenage, Hertfordshire, said she first learned their flight from Luton had been cancelled at 4.50am – 10 minutes before she was due to leave.
The wedding party of 17 had been due to fly to Lithuania for the wedding across the border in Poland the following day.
She and five others have now been booked on to a flight to Warsaw from Stansted, but there was no guarantee that the remaining guests, including the ring bearer, would be able to travel in time.
“No representative (from Ryanair) has helped as at all,” she said.
A spokesperson for Ryanair told HuffPost UK that “despite the regrettable and unjustified strike action [...] all 400 first wave aircraft departed on schedule this morning”.
“Today, over 2,150 Ryanair flights (90% of our schedule) will operate as normal carrying 400,000 customers across Europe, they said. “Ryanair took every step to minimise the disruption and we notified our customers as early as possible advising them of their free move, refund or reroute options.”
The strike has been coordinated by nine unions across six countries. The workers’ main grievance is that all employees have Irish contracts and employment conditions laid out in accordance with Irish law, rather than that of their home countries.
Earlier this week, Ryanair did sign a Collective Labour Agreement (CLA) with Italy’s three main cabin crew unions, which means their terms of employment will be governed by Italian law from 1 October.
This will mean they have access to maternity and paternity benefits on Italian terms, not Irish ones. A new pay structure has also been introduced and crew members will also now be able to have an Italian Pension Scheme.
But for some travellers, the damage has been done. Bishop, who lost a day of her holiday due to the strikes, said: “We fly a lot as a couple and actively avoid Ryanair, but this was our only option for this particular trip.
“Never, ever again.”