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Southern, TFL, BA and Virgin Christmas strikes – what you need to know

Fred Isaac

Fred Isaac
Nov 29, 2016

A wave of planned industrial action is set to cause travel chaos for hundreds of thousands of passengers this Christmas.

Southern Rail, London Underground British Airways and Virgin Atlantic customers could all face significant disruption.

As a customer of Southern, I know how soul-crushingly difficult it can be to travel even a few inches.

Commuter Lianna Brinded summed it all up: “I feel like quoting Captain Lawrence Oates every time I leave the house ... ‘I am just going outside and may be some time’.”

When your journey is disrupted by industrial action, it’s important to know your rights.

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Here’s what you need to know, starting with Southern (for the airlines, scroll down).


Southern Rail Christmas strikes

When are the Southern strikes due to take place?

We spoke to Govia Thames Link, Southern’s parent company, and it told us it hadn’t yet announced which services will be affected.

Aslef, the train drivers’ union, said the planned strike dates in December are:

* Tuesday 12
* Wednesday 13
* Friday 16

A further six-day strike is planned from Monday, January 9.

Southern, who carry 300,000 passengers a day, have admitted the strike would have a “devastating impact” and bring the network to a standstill.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport has called two 24-hour strike days on Tuesday December 6 and Wednesday 7.

Members will also take 48 hours of industrial action from 19 December. 

The dates were changed from the original three-day strike, from Thursday 22 December, after a consultation with passengers and union members. 

This guide was updated on December 1 to reflect the above news. 

I’m a Southern customer, can I get a refund?

One crumb of comfort for Southern customers is that if they decide not to travel on a strike day, they can return their ticket to the original retailer for a full refund.

No admin fee will be charged.

What about season ticket refunds?

If your season ticket is for a route where no service is scheduled, or where the planned service is severely limited, and you decide not to or are unable to travel, you can apply for strike compensation and Southern will compensate you for the affected days.

If you decide to travel and your journey is delayed by over 30 minutes, Southern will also offer compensation.

In either case, the best way to get the money you’re owed is to apply for strike compensation.

Govia Thameslink told us customers only need to submit one claim for each day they are affected. 

Can I use my Southern ticket on other routes?


Other train operators will be accepting Southern tickets on services. Check on the company’s website before you travel to make sure your ticket will be accepted.  


Transport for London strike

The Piccadilly and Hammersmith & City lines will face major disruption next week on December 6 and 7.

Can I get a refund for a strike-related TFL delay?


Because TFL isn’t signed up to Delay Repay, it doesn’t offer compensation for strike delays, which it classes as outside of its control.

Affected customers are advised to call TfL Customer Services on 0343 222 1234.

When airline or airport staff strike, it can cause major disruption for passengers


Airline strikes this Christmas

Both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic customers could face disruption this winter.

Whilst these strikes are still in the planning stages, it pays to be prepared.

BA staff are set to ballot on whether to act over cabin crew pay, which could prompt a strike from the Unite union.

UPDATE: British Airways staff have called off industrial action after an improved pay offer. 

And a dispute over union recognition rights, could leave some Virgin planes without pilots.  

Will my flight be affected?

First things first, check with your carrier if your flight is affected – some will go ahead as planned.  

Your airline should notify you of any disruption.

Can I get a refund if my flight is cancelled?


Thanks to good old EU regulations, you’re entitled to a full refund within seven days or an alternative flight from a nearby airport.

What’s more, the airline is responsible for any extra travel costs (for hotels, it’s best to approach your insurer).

What about package deals?

If your flights are part of a package deal, the operator is responsible for refunds or arranging alternative routes.

Of course, we hope you don’t need any of this information, but if you’re journey is disrupted it can help you get what you’re owed.

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