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. 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. BA has warned there could be knock-on delays going into WednesdayCredit:getty 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. 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.” 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. 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. You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. 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. 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] for your inboxSign up to Telegraph Travel’s new weekly newsletter for the latest features, advice, competitions, exclusive deals and comment.
Australia’s coal industry has designed what the Queensland Resources Council describes as “a world-first technology to alert heavy-vehicle drivers when they are tired and potentially reduce the number of driving incidents. Development of the tool started in 2004 at CRCMining as part of a project funded by the Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP) and additional support from Anglo Coal Australia.”CRCMining engineer Dr Daniel Bongers explains the project arose when CRCMining was approached by one of its industry members who had tested fatigue gadgets and technologies and found that none of them would work for the mining industry. “The majority of technologies used either eye or head behaviour or operator-response time to determine the level of fatigue. A limitation common to these technologies is the inability to cope with driver-to-driver variations,” he said. “This means that these technologies deduced fatigue levels based on an individual’s response or behaviour rather than the direct, physiological measurement of fatigue.’The SmartCap provides real-time measurements of fatigue and aims to dramatically reduce serious and minor safety incidents. “The system can also determine when the cap is not being worn on the head but is still connected by Bluetooth to the display,” Bongers said. “For example, it could be sitting on the seat beside the driver, or resting on the driver’s lap. Within 20 seconds, the system status changes to ‘cap off’.”Bongers says the look and feel of the SmartCap is expected to win over operators and has already attracted interest from operations in Chile, Indonesia, Northern Africa, the USA, and around Australia. “We ran field trials at two central Queensland mines last year (Anglo Coal’s Callide and Capcoal mines) with successful results,” he said. “This has led to the final stage of commercial development, which we expect to finish by early next year. The outcomes of the project will promote a growing culture of fatigue awareness and its widespread adoption will help operations significantly reduce fatigue-related injuries and fatalities.“At present, we’ve only costed the solution for haul trucks, which we expect to be A$10,000 per truck including the charging unit, remote display, processing cards, central monitoring server, software, and a supply of caps (low cost consumable).”The state-of-the-art SmartCap looks like a normal baseball cap but contains a number of sophisticated sensors concealed in the lining to measure brainwave information through hair. The wearer’s level of alertness is determined every half-second. Confirmed alertness/fatigue information is communicated wirelessly to a fixed or mobile Bluetooth device such as a mobile phone, PDA, or on a slimline or industrial SmartCap touch screen display.When a fatigue danger limit is reached, a warning message is sent from the operator’s cap to the display, notifying the operator and/or supervisors of the threat and the need to stop work.“We also expect to design a hard hat version of the SmartCap early in the new year to provide a fatigue management solution for underground as well as other applications, Bongers noted.”As a supporter of the initiative, Anglo Coal Australia will be one of the first companies to pilot the technology at its Australian coal mines. An initial 50 systems will be introduced at Dawson mine by the end of this month. Each haul truck at Dawson will be fitted with the SmartCap monitoring system, and each operator will receive their own cap.The SmartCaps will be rolled out at the company’s other mine sites in 2010.On her recent visit to Australia and central Queensland, Anglo American Chief Executive Cynthia Carroll said the technology was an exciting development for the mining industry. “For many years, the mining industry has been searching for mechanisms to assist in the detection of operator fatigue to prevent fatalities and injuries. The safety of our employees and the communities in which we operate is crucial for Anglo globally, and we are committed to our ultimate goal of zero harm.”Fatigue-monitoring systems are common at Anglo Coal Australia’s sites. An example is the Occupational Safety Performance Assessment Technology (OSPAT) system used at Dawson mine. Every employee, contractor, or consultant coming onto Dawson mine site must first pass this computer system, which measures an individual’s reaction time to determine whether they are fatigued, or under the influence of illicit substances. The individual uses a roller ball to follow a moving target on a computer screen in front of them and their speeds are tracked and compared against their recorded averages. This system tracks fatigue levels when arriving at site.The SmartCap, however, takes fatigue identification one step further by recognising that people can become fatigued while at work. It does this by monitoring the levels of fatigue that truck operators may begin to experience as their shift progresses. “Fatigue, in particular, is one of the critical elements of our sites’ Target Zero Action Plans (TZAPs), which address specific high potential incidents at each site and assigns new procedures to eliminate them,” Carroll said. “Through the TZAPs, our priority has been to improve the safety of our heavy vehicle operators so that they don’t experience dangerous ‘micro-sleeps’ on the job. Fatigue management has historically involved soft controls such as workforce awareness sessions on circadian rhythms, healthy lifestyles, and dietary intake. The SmartCap is an important advancement in fatigue management because it provides reliable, real-time monitoring technology.”