British Airways has begun to contact passengers affected by a pilot strike due to take place later in September.
The walkout by Balpa pilots on September 27 follows a two-day strike this week that led to the cancellation of hundreds of flights, disrupting the travel plans of thousands.
The UK flag carrier said it remains ready to return to talks with the union but that to give its customers certainty it had contacted all those affected by the strike, which falls on a Friday.
The airline is offering anyone affected refunds or rebookings on BA at a later date or with one of its rivals.
Balpa, the British Airlines Pilots Association, said it was "irresponsible and inconsiderate" for BA to cancel flights so early, accusing the carrier of doing so ahead of a 14-day window that might make them liable to pay compensation.
See below for advice on what to do if your travel plans are affected.
How do I know if my flight has been cancelled?
BA says it is contacting anyone whose flight has been cancelled. It has urged travellers to check the airline has their correct contact details.
"We are reviewing our flying schedule and we will offer affected customers the option to receive a full refund or the option to re-book to another travel date or on an alternative airline. If your flight is affected we will email you, please also check your flight status in Manage My Booking," the airline said.
BA has warned that its customer contact centres are "extremely busy" and to check its website for details. Flights from London City Airport and those operated by Sun-Air and Comair will not be affected.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which governs the UK’s airlines, was previously in touch with British Airways to ensure the carrier was handling its “re-routing obligations”; that is, ensuring passengers are still able to travel to their destination.
It is understood BA has enlisted the services of as many as 50 other airlines to help re-route affected passengers.
Are there other strikes to be aware of?
Ryanair’s Balpa pilots have announced seven days of strike action for later in September, following two other walk outs in recent weeks.
The next rounds of strikes will be: September 18-19 (48 hours), September 21 (24 hours), September 23 (24 hours), September 25 (24 hours), September 27 (24 hours) and September 29 (24 hours).
So far the Irish airline has been able to run full flight schedules by drafting in crew for other bases around Europe, however these walk outs seem more extensive. Ryanair has called the strikes "pointless" and "unjustified".
Balpa general secretary Brian Sutton said the action was over pay and benefits.
Will I get cash compensation?
Unlikely. Airlines are not liable to pay the additional cash compensation set out by EU regulations because they would not consider themselves directly responsible for the disruption.
However, this excuse was tested in the European Court of Justice last year, when a judge ruled that an airline is responsible for its staff and cannot count a strike as an “extraordinary circumstance”.
If you receive less than seven days’ notice of a cancellation, you may be able to claim on the timings of the alternative flight.
The CAA says: “If your new flight arrives more than two hours after the scheduled time of your original flight, you can claim €250 – no matter what time it departs.
“Otherwise, if your new flight arrives earlier than two hours after the scheduled time of your original flight, you can claim €125.”
What if my flight is delayed?
First and foremost, you are entitled to care and assistance, in the form and food and drink and, in the case of overnight stays or being stranded abroad, accommodation. Spend reasonably and be sure to keep receipts.
You could then be entitled to additional compensation, depending on the length of your flight and how late you arrive at your destination.
For delays of three hours or more you are entitled to a cash payment of €250 (£225) for short flights and €400 (£361) for a flight distance of 1,500-3,500km. For flights of over 3,500km you will receive €300 (£271) for a delay of 3-4 hours; €600 (£540) for more than four hours.
My flight has been cancelled - can I cancel my accommodation?
If you have booked a hotel, a villa or other accommodation independently of your travel arrangements (i.e. not as part of a package holiday) your contract is directly with the hotel or villa and you are responsible for any cancellation. If you can’t get there, you will have to do your best to persuade them to give you a refund or rebook for a later date – but they are not obliged to do this and you may lose money.
Am I covered by my travel insurance?
Your policy may pay out a small amount for very long delays (normally over 12 hours), but not usually enough to pay for more than a meal or two. A few policies have 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.
Have you been affected by disruption at UK airports this summer? Get in touch via [email protected]
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