Airline strikes in September. How to survive and what to do if your flight is canceled

GIVT press release

September is a hard time for airline passengers due to airline strikes, especially in France, Great Britain, and Spain. Everyone who has booked flights operated by the Spanish and British branch of Ryanair, British Airways or French Transavia, should especially check for updates, be prepared for some complications and remember about their passenger rights. Check here to see if you’re eligible for compensation.

A clear sky over Britain

As announced by trade unions, protests will include personnel from Ryanair (Spanish pilots and cabin crew), British Airways (pilots) and Transavia (French pilots). We are just after the first two days of the BA strike, which caused the termination of almost all flights operated by this airline. Some terminals of the London’s Heathrow airport looked like out of service, with 697 BA’s takeoffs cancelled. This action, organized and announced by BALPA (British Airline Pilots Association), will be repeated on Friday the 27th of September. This trade union gathers approx. 85% of all BA pilots. The vast majority of them (over 90%) voted for the strike so that the action may affect most of BA’s operations again. Ryanair’s pilots affiliated with BALPA will also go on strikes planned for September 18-19th, September 21st, September 23rd, September 25th, September 27th, and September 29th.

Possible turbulence in France and Spain

The Transavia pilots’ union Syndicat des Pilots de Ligne (SPL) announced that their strike would take place throughout September. SPL represents about 30% of all Transavia pilots. After the first five days of strike, it seems that this action wouldn’t disrupt Transavia’s operations, with only 6 flights cancelled. SEPLA, the trade union representing Spanish pilots hired by Ryanair, called for strikes on Sept.19th, 20th, 22th, 27th and 29th. USO and SICTPLA, the Spanish trade unions, representing, among others, Ryanair’s cabin crew members, gave notice of stoppages on September 1st, 2nd, 6th, 8th, 13th, 15th, 20th, 22nd, 27th, and 29th. So far the strike hasn’t affected operations, with less than 1% of Ryanair scheduled flights from and to Spain cancelled during the first two days of September.

The good news in all of this for passengers highlights Elżbieta Tyszka, Head of Legal in GIVT, a leading service provider for collecting compensation for passengers due to delays and cancellations.

An airline crew strike – both legal and illegal – doesn’t discharge the air carrier’s liability arising from provisions of 261/2004 Regulation. In a situation where such a strike has occurred, all passengers should receive compensation. The fact that airline employees are on strike doesn’t mean that passengers should bear the consequences of it. These strikes don’t exclude passengers from their right to fight for compensation. Airlines are obliged to pay compensation if the notification about flight cancellations was sent to the passenger less than two weeks in advance”.

Airlines are trying to mitigate the impact of strikes on their operations, which can cause huge losses for them. For example, the initial 5 days of the last SAS pilots’ strike (April 26 to April 30) affected nearly 270,000 passengers, according to data published by the airlines. This number means that the total sum of possible compensations for deleted flights exceed 90,4 M euros (753,750 euros for every hour of strike). It is of vital importance for passengers to understand their rights and take advantage of service providers such as GIVT to better enforce their rights. 

What to do in case of a strike? (if less than 14 days left to flight date)

  1. Check your flight information on a regular basis. Sometimes airlines and unions reach an agreement just before the date of the planned strike. But don’t wait until the last moment – the later, the less available options. You can seek information on the carrier’s site or check this method developed by The Independent for determining the probability of a flight being cancelled.
  2. If the flight is cancelled, airlines are obliged to refund it and propose a replacement flight.
  3. Airlines often offer refunds for cancelled flights in the form of a voucher for future use. Remember that accepting this form of refund (or any other) eliminates the possibility of applying for compensation.
  4. If you are offered with an alternative flight, compare the time of its departure and arrival with previously booked flight details:
  5. if the flight cancellation notice was sent by the carrier 7-14 days before departure and the alternative flight departs more than 2 hours earlier/arrives more than 4 hours later, you can claim for compensation, even if you decided to  go with this alternative flight,
  6. if the carrier sent the flight cancellation notice less than 7 days before departure and the alternative flight departs more than 1 hour earlier/arrives more than 2 hours later, you can also claim for compensation, even if you decided to go with this alternative flight.

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About GIVT

We seek compensation from air carriers for delayed or cancelled flights and in cases when air travellers are denied boarding. We act fast and efficiently, and we follow transparent rules. To make the process of obtaining compensation for our clients, we focus on advanced technology, task automation systems, machine learning, and advanced Big Data. GIVT has attracted experts with expertise in several sectors, including aviation, finance, modern technology, consulting, digital marketing, and legal services.