The benefits of booking with an agent were highlighted again this week as Ryanair announced the cancellation of 50 flights a day for six weeks.
The budget carrier was forced to make the cancellations due to a “mess-up” with pilot rotas.
Chief executive Michael O’Leary apologised for disrupting the plans of 400,000 customers.
Amid growing anger and pressure from government and consumer groups, Ryanair issued a full list of cancelled flights on Monday, having originally given only up to five days’ notice.
This will reduce compensation payable under European rules that state carriers must pay €250 for cancellations within 14 days. Ryanair estimated the total hit to be £20 million.
Atol rules mean agents have to rebook packages including a cancelled Ryanair flight. The Travel Network Group assessed the impact on members using its Honeycomb dynamic packaging system. Lisa Henning, membership services director, said: “We have completed an exercise establishing the status for all of our Honeycomb Ryanair bookings and are pleased that not many of them are currently affected.
“We will be checking bookings daily and updating members if any of the booking statuses change. We have also helped many of our members who haven’t booked through our in-house systems to help them rebook new flights.
“It’s a massive inconvenience to consumers when airlines do this, but if nothing else this action by Ryanair should reinforce to consumers the benefit of booking though an agent.”
Alan Bowen, legal adviser to the Association of Atol Companies, said unlike people who booked direct with Ryanair, those who had booked a package with agents and were yet to travel would be fully refunded if replacement flights could not be found. However, he said many bed banks do not offer refunds for amendments or cancellations, so agents may have to bear the cost of rebooking.
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