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As regards the Ryanair flight FR1474 from London Stansted @ 18:55 to Naples Italy, here's the email I received, on September the 8th (yeah, 3 months ago):

We’re sorry to inform you that there has been a time change to your Ryanair booking. If you’re travelling with others, please inform them of the changes.

We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused. Please find new details of your flight(s) below.

As detailed below, you can choose between accepting the new departure time or changing your flight for free.

which follows with the 2 options

  1. Accept flight(s) time change

  2. Change your flight for free

    • You can choose to change your flight to the next available flight on the same route or to a flight departing one day before or one day after your new departure time. There are no flight change fees and you do not have to pay any fare difference.

    • Click here to contact our Customer Service team (subject to opening hours) if you wish to avail of the free change option.

    • Please note that any changes exceeding the above periods will be subject to flight change fees and additional fare difference (if applicable).

Please note that Ryanair is not liable for any prepaid expenses directly or indirectly related to your booking as a result of this time change.

If you have purchased other products with us (e.g. car hire, transfers, parking, etc.) and you need to make changes, please contact the providers directly.

We would like to take this opportunity to apologise again for the inconvenience caused by the change to your flight(s).

Thank you for choosing Ryanair and we look forward to welcoming you on board again soon.

Yours sincerely,

The Ryanair Customer Service Team

So far I've not taken any action, assuming that silence means accepting option 1, because I was relatively ok with the new time.

But for recent circumstances I'd rather reschedule the flight. But the point is that "the above periods" they mention give really little option, as they have no other flight within that day, a 9:45am and a 7:05pm flight the day before (which is tomorrow) and a 9:25am flight the day after.

Can they really legally be so strict in proposing the alternatives?

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    What is the route? You are probably eligible for EU261 compensation Dec 4, 2023 at 20:18
  • Information added.
    – Enlico
    Dec 4, 2023 at 21:01
  • For short-haul flights, the delay threshold for compensation (including that you can cancel the flight, in your case) is 2 hours, while for long-haul flights, it can be up to 4 hours.
    – N Randhawa
    Dec 4, 2023 at 21:13
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    When do you want to reschedule your flight to? More than 1 day earlier or later? Or just to different times on those days?
    – jcaron
    Dec 4, 2023 at 22:32
  • The facts are unclear. Please state the date and time your Ryanair flight was to depart, then state the date and time the rescheduled Ryanair flight was to depart. Dec 6, 2023 at 19:41

1 Answer 1

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Under EU261, when the airline changes the flight schedule more than one hour earlier (or more than 3 hours later), you have the same rights as in the case of a cancellation. From https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/travel/passenger-rights/air/faq/index_en.htm:

A flight which has been brought forward by more than one hour is considered a cancelled flight. You have the same rights as in case of a flight cancellation.

Those rights include the right to choose between a refund, rerouting at the earliest opportunity, or rebooking at a date of your choice.

So they must provide the option for you to get a refund.

The new schedule they provided is probably the best option that can be found which matches the “rerouting at the earliest opportunity” option.

In some circumstances (for instance if they could not reroute you the same day) they could be forced to rebook you on another airline, but as they provided an alternative on the same day, I very much doubt they would do it or that any court would agree with you.

There could probably be some debate about options earlier or later than one day away from the original date, but I’m not sure that is what you are interested in, is it?

Also, waiting 3 months to make a choice surely has reduced the possible alternatives, and if you choose to get a refund and buy another ticket, that is probably going to be a lot more expensive.

Given the fact you were informed so long in advance, other than a refund if you so choose, there is no compensation available.

NB: if they didn’t tell you you could choose to get a refund instead they are at fault, but it’s unclear what exactly you could get from that.

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    In Europe, ompensation doesn't apply if the airline informs enough in advance. I think it's 14 days.
    – André
    Dec 5, 2023 at 0:13
  • @André that’s indeed what I wrote, no compensation here, only a refund possible.
    – jcaron
    Dec 5, 2023 at 1:53
  • You say they must provide the option for you to get a refund, but the email they sent me reads you can choose between accepting the new departure time or changing your flight for free, giving me no option to get a refund. I guess I should have argued with customer service 3 months ago, so at least I'd have had the freedom of booking a completely new flight.
    – Enlico
    Dec 5, 2023 at 6:14
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    @Enlico As I wrote, they are in the wrong when they did not tell you upfront you can get a refund, but that option should still be open to you somehow (though if they don't offer it upfront then the only option is calling them). It would indeed have been a lot simpler if you had done so at the time, as you could have found alternative flights at prices which are probably better than those available now for a near-last-minute booking.
    – jcaron
    Dec 5, 2023 at 9:59
  • @Enlico: there are a lot of things airlines are legally required to do but they simply don't. You need to dig in and be persistent maybe reaching out to your local oversight agency . There is a reason why all thsee EU261 collection companies exist.
    – Hilmar
    Dec 5, 2023 at 22:04

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