Will my flight be affected?
Airlines never want to see a strike go ahead as it affects their reputation and costs them money. Consequently even when a strike is officially announced they will work to keep disruption and cancellations to a minimum. This includes working with legal teams to negotiate away from strike action and training extra staff to take on the roles of those that will strike.
Not all flights that are scheduled for departure during industrial action will be affected and some will go ahead as planned.
It is worth noting that airlines often prioritise international flights when staff availability is limited, although this cannot be taken as a given.
How will I be notified?
If you booked your flight direct with the airline they should notify you directly if any of your travel plans will be affected by strike action.
If you booked your flights as part of a package deal then the tour operator will be responsible either for issuing a refund or finding alternative flights so you should contact them to find out their plans.
They will contact you using the details you provided when you booked your tickets so it is always worth double checking that you enter these correctly just in case. The airline should also post information about cancelled flights on their website.
If you have not heard anything but are aware that you will be travelling at a time when industrial action will be taking place, it is always worth contacting the airline in advance to make sure you will be able to travel as planned.
Can I get a refund if my flight is cancelled?
If your flight is cancelled because of strike action you are, thanks to EU regulations, entitled to either:
a full refund, paid within 7 days.
an alternative flight to your destination from a nearby airport; the airline will be responsible for additional travel costs.
an alternative flight on a later date outside the strike period; this tends to be limited to flights departing within the following 12 months.
You will not be able to rebook or claim a refund (unless you have a flexible or refundable ticket) until the dates of the strike are announced and the airline have confirmed that your flight will be affected.
What are my rights if my flight is delayed?
If you experience a significant delay the airline is required to make your wait a reasonably comfortable one.
You will be entitled to a phone call, refreshments, a meal and accommodation (and transport to the accommodation) if your flight:
is delayed by 2 hours or more and less than 1,500km
is delayed by 3 hours or more and within the EU, or between 1,500km and 3,500km to a destination outside the EU
is delayed for 4 hours or more and over 3,500km to a destination outside of the EU
Your airline should provide these for you, but if not you should keep any receipts and contact their customer services to make a claim.
If your flight is delayed by more than 5 hours you are also entitled to:
The right to cancel your journey and have the cost of your flight reimbursed within 7 days
Be flown back to your original destination by your airline If you are waiting for a connecting flight that has been delayed
Have the cost reimbursed by your airline if you have booked a return flight on the same ticket as your outgoing journey
Should I book a replacement flight now?
It is worth bearing in mind that if you book a replacement flight before you have found out whether your travel plans will be affected, you may be left footing the bill for two tickets if your flight takes off as scheduled.
It is generally best to look around to find a suitable flight but hold off paying out until you know for sure that you will need it and will be granted a refund.
Should I cancel my flight now?
If you have a refundable or flexible ticket then it is really down to you whether you are prepared to wait to see if your travel plans will be affected before you cancel or reschedule your flight.
However, if you have a non-refundable ticket and have not received confirmation from the airline that your flight will be affected you should not cancel your booking.
Doing this will mean that you lose the chance to claim a refund if your flight is cancelled and simply forfeit your place on an unaffected flight if it does take to the sky as planned.
What about my hotel and onward transport?
It is very unlikely that the airline will pay you anything in the way of compensation for non-refundable hotel or onward travel bookings that are affected due to strike action. Instead, it is likely that you will need to rely on your travel insurance.
Of course, it is always worth speaking to the company you booked with directly to see if they are able or willing to move your reservation free of charge. It is unlikely but possible so you have nothing to lose by asking.
Can I claim on my travel insurance?
You will not be able to claim for your cancelled flight on your travel insurance as the airline will offer a refund or alternative booking. However, you should, in theory, be able to claim for any other losses, such as missed hotel stays, car hire bookings or train tickets.
This cannot be taken as a given as it will depend on your travel insurance provider's policy on cancellation due to strike action and the level of cover you have in place.
Some insurance providers will only pay out for claims on policies that were:
purchased before the actual strike dates were announced
booked before plans for the strike were confirmed
taken out before strike action was first threatened
This will be stated in the terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy. However, if you are at all unsure it is worth contacting your insurer to find out what you will be entitled to.
What if I paid on credit card?
It is unlikely that you will be able to recoup the cost of your affected travel plans under Section 75 of the consumer credit act. This is because the fault lies with the airline whose staff called the strike and not with the hotel or other company or service provider you booked with.
Will I be able to claim compensation?
Unfortunately, it is unlikely that you will be able to claim for compensation for a cancelled flight, or onward travel plans, as EU Regulations class strike action as extraordinary circumstances over which the airline have no control.
As such, providing the airline offers a refund or replacement flight, they do not need to pay out anything in the way of compensation to customers who are affected.