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Airport strikes set to cause summer holiday misery

Patrick Christys
Jul 17, 2019


Strike action at airports is threatening to ruin the summer holidays for hundreds of thousands of travellers this summer.

Holidays are supposed to be relaxing, but often they're one of the most stressful times of the year - especially if you asked the in-laws to come out of politeness and they actually said yes...But strike action is probably the most annoying thing of the lot.

Unite has threatened “chaos” at London Heathrow, with more than 4,000 staff, including security guards and engineers, planning to walk out in a dispute over pay. The union said it could “shut down the airport”.

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The strike days are planned for July 26-27, August 5-6, and August 23-24 (the bank holiday weekend) - so, basically, the most inconvenient time. Thanks.

Strike action is a good way to make people think that, actually, maybe it is better if robots just took peoples jobs. You don't get strike action from robots - they don't even take holidays, or have smoke breaks!

At London Gatwick, the UK’s second busiest airport, baggage scanners and terminal staff are considering action in August over pay. 

London Stansted, too, could be hit by strikes, with EasyJet staff due to down tools for 17 days this summer, over pay and conditions. The industrial action is planned to start on July 25 for four days, with further strikes on August 2-5, 9-12, 16-19 and 23-27. 

This is why it pays to get travel insurance. Here's some info about how you can claim compensation if you're caught up in travel chaos:

Under EU rules, passengers can claim compensation of up to €600 (£534) for delays and cancellations of more than three hours that are the airline's fault.

That's as long as passengers are on a flight that departs from an EU airport or on a flight with an EU airline landing at an EU airport.

This includes claiming for missed connections that are booked as part of the same ticket, rather than as two separate transactions.

But now the European Court of Justice has closed a loophole that may have seen some passengers with connecting flights operated by different airlines lose out.

The case involved a connecting flight sold by Czech air carrier, Ceske aerolinie, from the Czech Republic to Thailand via United Arab Emirates.

Here, the judge ruled that passengers could claim compensation from the flight's operator, Ceske aerolinie, even though the delay was caused by non-EU carrier Etihad on the second leg of the journey, which also wasn't an EU flight.

It means others in a similar situation should be able to do the same.

Coby Benson, flight delay compensation solicitor at Bott and Co said: “This is good news for passengers because it gives them more options for claiming compensation when inconvenienced by a delayed or cancelled flight."

My flight's been delayed. Can I get compensation?

Where flights are delayed by three hours or more, passengers may be entitled to claim compensation of up to €250 (£222) for short-haul flights, up to €400 (£356) for mid-haul flights and up to €600 (£534) for long-haul flights.

If the delay is under three hours, you can't claim compensation.

But crucially, compensation is only paid when the delay is the airline's fault - for example, the crew or pilot were late or the airline suffered from routine technical problems.

Problems such as bad weather would be considered an "extraordinary circumstance", which means it's outside of the airlines' control.

So unfortunately you won't get a compensation payout.

If your EU flight has been delayed for more than five hours, you are also entitled to a refund if you no longer wish to travel.

You may also get money for food, drink, communications and accommodation if the delay is overnight.

This kicks in after delays of two hours for short-haul flights, three hours for medium-haul flights, and four hours for long-haul journeys.

My flight's been cancelled. Can I get compensation?

If your flight's been cancelled, you may be able to get compensation if you arrive at your final destination late AND if your flight was cancelled within 14 days of its planned departure.

Compensation is up to €250 (£222) for short-haul flights, up to €400 (£356) for mid-haul flights, and up to €600 (£534) for long-haul flights.

But again, you can only claim if it's the airline's fault for cancelling your flight.

If your flight is cancelled you can also get a full refund if you no longer want to travel - this includes a refund for the return leg.

If you still want to travel, you can ask to be put on an alternative flight, although it’s up to you whether to fly as soon as possible after the cancelled flight or at a later date.

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