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money.co.uk comments: summer of airport and airline strikes

With threats of strikes at Heathrow and Gatwick, as well as by staff at Easyjet, Ryanair and British Airways, Brits face a summer of travel chaos.

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Salman Haqqi, personal finance expert at money.co.uk, comments:

"Millions of Brits are facing a summer of disruptions, as a perfect storm of airport and airline strikes could leave their holiday plans in tatters.

"To compound their misery, travellers at Heathrow and Gatwick - where baggage scanners and terminal staff are threatening industrial action - may not be eligible for compensation from their airline or holiday provider for delayed or cancelled flights.

"This is because, under EU regulation, strike action by a third party - such as air traffic control or airport ground staff - is seen as an extraordinary circumstance, which means it's a situation beyond the control of the airlines.

"Check your travel insurance, as you may be able to claim for a cancelled or delayed flight - provided you took the policy out before the strikes were announced.

"If you haven't bought your travel insurance yet, I'm sorry to say that you will probably be out of luck. Most insurers won't cover you for strikes that were already known about before you took the policy out.

Easyjet, Ryanair and proposed British Airways strikes

"The situation is slightly different if British Airways, Easyjet or Ryanair staff strike, as this industrial action is the responsibility of the airline and 'extraordinary circumstance' cannot be cited as a reason.

"If airline staff strike and your flight to or from the UK is cancelled, thanks to EU regulations, you are entitled to: a full refund; or an alternative flight to your destination from a nearby airport, with the airline responsible for additional travel costs; or an alternative flight on a later date outside the strike period.

"However, this will be scant consolation for many holidaymakers, as the likelihood of being able to book onto an alternative flight during this peak period will be slim to non existent.

If my flight is delayed due to an airline strike and I'm stuck at the airport, what can I expect?

"If you experience a significant delay - whether flying from or to the UK - due to an airline strike, the airline is required to make your wait a comfortable one, including providing food and drink, phone calls, and even accommodation, if necessary.

"If you are delayed by more than five hours as a result of a fault lying with the airline (so, not because of extraordinary circumstances), you have the right to cancel your journey and have the cost of your flight reimbursed.

What should travellers be doing right now?

"I would advise travellers to check the airports' websites and to contact their travel providers for up-to-date information on the strikes. It is important to check this information before travelling to the airport to ensure you know the latest status of your scheduled flight.

"If you have travel insurance, familiarise yourself with what is covered so that you know if you'll be able to make a claim. And, if you haven't yet booked your travel for your upcoming holidays, make sure that, when you do, you also buy travel insurance. It's times like these when it can give you that added peace of mind. Although, remember to shop around and compare policies to make sure that the cover you get meets your needs as well as your budget.

"If you used a credit card and booked your flights directly with the airline, you may be able to claim a refund for delays or cancellations under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

"But the most important thing is not to cancel your flight or to book a replacement until you have confirmation on the status of your existing flight, or you might be left footing the bill for two tickets if your flight takes off as scheduled."


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Salman Haqqi

Salman Haqqi, Personal Finance Editor

Salman Haqqi spent 10 years as a journalist reporting in several countries around the world. Salman left the world of journalism and moved to the UK to pursue a passion for personal finance and a desire to help people make informed financial decisions.

Read Salman Haqqi's articles and guides
Joel Kempson

Joel Kempson, Personal Finance Writer

Joel Kempson devotes his time to helping people navigate the world of personal finance and make informed decisions about their money. He spent his early career writing about TV, movies, comic books and rock music.

Read Joel Kempson's articles and guides

About Salman Haqqi

Salman is our personal finance editor with over 10 years’ experience as a journalist. He has previously written for Finder and regularly provides his expert view on financial and consumer spending issues for local and national press.

View Salman Haqqi's full biography here or visit the money.co.uk press centre for our latest news.