Flybe collapse - what are my rights and what should I do next?

If you have flights booked, there is no point in sugar coating it - the news is bad

What has happened to Flybe?

It has gone out of business leaving many thousands of would-be passengers substantially out of pocket and their travel plans up in the air.

Hang on, I thought Flybe had already gone out of business?

It did. In fact it was the first high-profile aviation casualty of the pandemic and all its flights were grounded in March 2020. At that time, it operated flights to and from Dublin, Belfast, Ireland West and Cork. But since its latest incarnation resumed flying last April it has operated flights on a scaled-back 21 routes from Belfast City, Birmingham, and Heathrow to other UK airports, Amsterdam and Geneva.


How many people have been impacted?

In the first instance, hundreds of employees of the airline have lost their jobs, including more than a hundred who were based in Belfast. Around 2,500 passengers were scheduled to fly with Flybe on Saturday while approximately 75,000 would-be passengers have had future bookings cancelled.

But the airline will help people who are stranded get home, right?

Wrong. The airline made it very clear on Saturday morning that it would not be arranging any alternative flights and would not be in a position to offer any support to anyone caught up in the collapse.

I have flights booked with the airline and am waiting to depart. What is going to happen to me?

There is no point in sugar coating it, the news is bad. If you are due to fly with Flybe in the hours or days ahead you will have no option but to check available flights with other airlines. It is possible that some may offer flights at reduced rates - known as rescue fares in the trade - in light of the circumstances, and while passengers may as well ask for such fares, it is more likely they will have to buy tickets to get home at full price.

And who will pay for my tickets?

You will have to pay. It may be possible to make a claim under your travel insurance policy, if you have travel insurance. But not all policies will cover the collapse of an airline. Failure cover is usually known as scheduled airline failure insurance, and insurance providers should be contacted for further details.

But will I be compensated by the airline?

The possibilities are remote. While passengers will have a legal right to claim compensation under UK regulations on air passenger rights, if the airline goes out of business, then all claims will to be filed with administrator or liquidators. The bad news is passengers will be unsecured creditors and will have to wait until all secured creditors are taken care of first. And as the airline has gone out of business because it does not have the money to pay its creditors, the chances of passengers getting any money back are slim.

I can’t get to my destination but have accommodation and car hire paid for overseas, will I be able to get that money back?

Maybe, but probably not. It will very much depend on the kindness of those with whom you have booked. They are under no legal obligation to give you any money back.

Are there any other ways to get my money back?

Yes. If you have booked a flight with the airline you will most likely have used a credit or debit card, and if something has been paid for using a credit or debit card and it is not delivered, then consumers should immediately contact their bank and get it to start a process known as a chargeback.

What is that again?

It means you notify your credit card provider to refund money paid directly to Flybe directly back onto your card. Time limits do apply, and consumers typically have 120 days from the time they become aware of the problem to apply for a refund.

How long should the chargeback process take?

It depends on the bank, the credit card provider and the reason for the chargeback. Given that this situation is so high profile and impacts so many people, it is pretty open and shut, so there should not be much toing and froing between customers and their banks.