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Spain strike causes travel disruption

Hundreds of flights to and from Spain have been cancelled due to a general strike which has been called by unions in protest over planned austerity cuts and changes to labour laws.

If your flight is cancelled, check with your airline or tour operator before travelling. Airline websites are often the best place to find this information.

You should, in most cases, receive a refund if your airline cancels your flight.  However, when flights are cancelled for reasons beyond the airline’s control, EU Regulation 261/2004 applies. This gives passengers the choice of accepting a refund and making their own way home, or accepting an alternative flight. If a passenger accepts a refund, the airline will have fulfilled its obligations.

If you accept an alternative flight, the airline is responsible for meals and refreshments, hotel accommodation and two telephone calls or emails. If the length of time until the next available flight is unreasonable (the number of days is not specified), the airline should book passengers onto another airline though this rarely happens. Most European airlines will not pay for a flight on another carrier.

Instead, they will insist that passengers wait for the next available flight. Some airlines organise accommodation, others will refund the cost of a budget hotel. Should your airline advise you to buy your own food and accommodation, keep all receipts, and keep such costs to a reasonable minimum, before making a claim when you get back to the UK. If you choose to make your own way home overland, it is highly unlikely that airlines will be responsible for the costs of alternative travel arrangements.

The situation is better if you are on a package holidays as passengers should be looked after by their tour operator, and the operator is legally obliged to get you home. Customers will usually be allowed to stay in their original hotel or will be moved to one of a similar standard on a half-board or all-inclusive basis. The exact situation will depend on the operator’s booking terms and conditions.

If you have travel insurance, check your policy wording as you may be able to claim for travel delay at the airport and be eligible to abandon your holiday once you have been delayed for a certain number of hours, generally after 24 hours delay. Some policies have different levels of cover for a “consequential loss”, such as a hotel booking made independently. You will need to check the terms and conditions which apply to your policy directly with your insurer.

This article is brought to you by Travelandinsure.com, specialist in ethical travel insurance.

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