The National Air Traffic Services (NATS), the country’s leading provider of air traffic control services, said it had applied traffic flow restrictions on Monday to maintain safety.
The group announced later that the issue had been “identified and remedied”. But passengers are still facing travel chaos, with more than 500 flights already cancelled and many more delayed.
Here, The Independent’s travel expert Simon Calder explains what you can do if you are caught up in the chaos.
What are the rules that guide my rights?
For flights from the UK and EU airports (as well as those in the wider EEA), European air passengers’ rights rules prevail.
These were introduced in 2006 and are known as EC261. They were devised to require airlines to do the right thing for their passengers. They specify the care and compensation you can expect when you are denied boarding despite showing up on time, or when your plane is delayed or cancelled.
But from locations outside Europe, the obligations are more complex – with passengers on flights operated by EU airlines treated differently depending on their final destination.
My flight from a UK or EU airport is cancelled. What can I expect?
Whatever the cause of a cancellation, and regardless of the amount of notice that is given, you can insist upon replacement transport: the airline must get you to your destination as soon as possible if that is what you want. The UK Civil Aviation Authority says that means that, if a flight is available on the original day of travel, the passenger must be booked on it – even if it is on a rival carrier.
You are entitled to “re-routing, under comparable transport conditions, to [your] final destination at the earliest opportunity”.
The term “re-routing” is unhelpful, since it implies finding a different route to the destination. On a link such as Manchester-Dublin or Barcelona-Gatwick, with around a dozen flights a day on multiple airlines, there may be no need to change the route.
If you are flown to a different arrival airport, the airline must also meet reasonable onward travel costs. If you are flown to Luton rather than Gatwick, you could claim the £38 train fare but not a…