web Musings of The Global Traveller

Thursday, December 27, 2007

'Tis the season

... for airline/airport strikes, apparently.

Here is a (probably incomplete) listing of some upcoming strikes that may impact your travel plans.

  • BAA (airport operator for London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London Stansted, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton) - 7th Jan, 14th Jan and 17-18th Jan. If this goes ahead I'd expect these airports to shut down and downstream impacts on many airlines that use these airports.
  • Virgin Atlantic - 9-10th Jan and 16-17th Jan.
  • Qantas - 9th Jan strike and ongoing engineer's overtime ban.
  • LIAT - ongoing dispute with unpredictable walk-offs and sick-ins.
  • Air France at Orly airport - strike suspended until late January.
  • Air Malta - strike "could be announced" soon.
  • Alitalia - nothing announced that I could find, but given the ongoing takeover talks and past history chances of a strike are high.

Impacts can spread far and wide. Flights for days either side of a strike may be cancelled due to aircraft and/or crew being stuck in the wrong places. Flights after a strike has ended may be disrupted as airline(s) attempt to restore normal schedule and fly impacted travellers. Flights in other parts of the world may be impacted - due to directly impacted connecting passengers or deadheading crew for example.

What can you do?

  1. Be prepared. Actively look out for alternate routes and flights. Don't wait for the airline or your travel agent to look for options for you.
  2. Consider changing your travel dates.
  3. If your ticket is a flexible one, see if you can change to a "safer" option - using another airline or airport or change of dates. Do this early if there is no cost to changing (and the alternate is acceptable to you). Otherwise you may need to wait until close to the date of the strike when the normal rules for rebooking get relaxed.
  4. Check that your travel insurance is up to date. If it is then you may covered for reasonable out of pocket expenses.
  5. Consider purchasing refundable tickets on other dates or airlines - as cover. If you don't end up needing to use those new tickets you can get a refund. This also works for cheap non-refundable tickets, minus the ability to refund. The cost may be worth it compared with changes to hotel accommodation and other travel-related arrangements.
  6. Have the airline phone numbers and emails ready to contact at the appropriate time. Make contact with sufficient time to enable alternate arrangements - an hour before departure of the only other possible flight is leaving it too late.
  7. Keep informed. Check the news regularly for updates. Also check airline and airport websites - but don't assume these will be updated promptly.
  8. Don't panic. Strikes are sometimes (often?) called off at the last minute in the games of brinkmanship, or in extreme cases by government intervention.

No comments: