British Airways (BA) workers have voted to go on strike during the school summer holidays, meaning more than 700 BA check-in staff and ground handlers at Heathrow could go at the height of the summer season.
No strike dates were announced as unions had indicated they wanted to give the airline some time to change its mind on the key issue.
GMB, the union behind the strikes, must give BA two weeks’ notice so the strikes can begin early next month.
However, it is understood the union will delay the strikes until the third or fourth weekend of July to coincide with the start of the summer holidays to maximize impact.
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Heathrow has contingency plans in place to minimize the impact of the strikes, including deploying managers to deal with check-ins. Still, travelers could be affected by delays and possibly some cancellations.
GMB has warned holidaymakers are in for “a grueling summer of travel chaos”.
Rory Boland, editor of which? Travel, said: “Passengers must not bear the brunt of these strikes. British Airways should take the necessary precautions to avoid a series of extremely disruptive last-minute cancellations.
“Strikes by airline workers are within the airline’s control as it negotiates with its workers. If your flight is delayed or canceled as a result, you are likely entitled to compensation under the denied boarding regulations.
“BA must also re-route customers with other airlines as soon as possible, if necessary, and explain these rights to customers. We know this requirement is not always met, so the Government and Civil Aviation Authority must step in, where airlines are playing fast and loose by the rules.”
If a flight is canceled, passengers may be eligible for a refund or compensation depending on the circumstances.
Those with travel insurance should check with their provider what they can get back.
Most passengers are also protected by so-called denied boarding regulations. Among these, customers should be offered a full refund for a canceled flight or a seat on the next available flight or at another time.
Continue reading: Flight delay: Passengers have to wait up to 5 years for compensation
British Airways has a website with details of rebooking and refund options.
Those moving to Gatwick to avoid disruption won’t get very far as the airport has announced it will cap the number of daily operations in July and August from a maximum of 900 departures and arrivals to 825 and 850 respectively.
easyJet passengers will bear the brunt of the canceled flights, with British Airways, Wizz Air, Tui, Norwegian and Ryanair also expected to depart on the ground.
Holidaymakers have complained of long delays and queues at airports, while some trips have had to be canceled altogether.
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