What to do if you're affected by a strike
Cheapflights' tips for navigating the sometimes stormy skies
If you're caught up in a strike, by air traffic controllers, cabin crew, pilots, baggage handlers or any other group of workers in the aviation industry, here's what to do:
When strike action is announced by a union, it conjures up images of angry workers waving placards and chanting while hapless travellers look on in dismay. However, the majority of strikes are called off following successful negotiation by bosses and unions. A strike can cripple an airline; they're losing money while planes are grounded and they lose money after the stoppage accommodating existing passengers rather than new flyers. They'll have contingency plans such as stand-in staff or agreements with other airlines. A strike is very much the worst possible scenario.
Keep an eye on the news
If you are due to travel around the time strikes are scheduled, keep abreast of the news. Which group is striking? What is it likely to mean for you? What would a delay mean to your holiday plans?
Keep in touch
Visit your airline or tour operator's website, find their travel advice sections and arm yourself with contact details (email addresses or telephone numbers). Also, make sure the company you booked with has your up-to-date details as they may need to contact you.
Don't rebook with another airline/tour operator just yet
Stay calm. If the strike is called off, you may be out of pocket. Your airline or tour operator will not necessarily refund your money if they operate services as planned.
If a flight is cancelled
EU regulations state that an airline must reroute you or offer you a refund. And the flight should be of "comparable alternative means". If you are stranded at the airport, the carrier may, by those same EU regulations, provide accommodation and meals. However, be wary. These EU regulations don't cover exceptional circumstances, and strikes are generally considered an exceptional circumstance by the airlines. Read our tip on Compensation to see what you can expect, should you be stranded.
Package holiday or DIY?
If you've booked a package holiday you won't lose any money, your tour operator will organise new flights or refund you if they can't do that.
If you've booked the elements of your holiday independently, the airline will not be liable for the loss of your hotel or car-hire deposit and it will be up to your travel insurance company to compensate you. Alternatively, if you booked flights and accommodation (costing more than £100) with your credit card, you might have a claim via Visa or Mastercard.
Updated May 2013