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Airline strikes: what to do and will your insurance
cover you?

With British Airways striking this week and another strike threatened later in the month, here’s what to do if your trip is affected.

Tom Harrison
Content writer
minute read
posted 11 SEPTEMBER 2019

Thousands of British Airways passengers have had their flights cancelled because of a strike over pay by BA pilots. Strikes by airline and airport staff are not uncommon, so what’s the situation if one affects you?

If the strike was public knowledge before you booked your trip, the first thing to do is to contact the travel agent or airline. You’re entitled to a refund if your flight is cancelled or they may be able to make alternative arrangements for you to reach your destination.

But what do you do if you arrive at the airport only to find yourself stranded because of a strike?

Compensation not guaranteed

Provided the flight leaves from an EU airport or arrives at an EU airport and is operated by an EU airline, you have the right to a refund for your flight tickets or to be booked on an alternative flight. You also have the right to help, like food or overnight accommodation, if necessary.

But you may not get any additional compensation for the inconvenience caused.

According to the EU’s official website, passengers generally have the right to compensation under EU rules if flights are cancelled or severely delayed. But this might not apply if the reason for the delay is a strike – this is because strikes are considered to be ‘extraordinary circumstances’.

Check your travel insurance cover

Although you may not get compensation from the airline, your travel insurance could allow you to reclaim all your costs if your flight is delayed for more than 24 hours, or if it’s cancelled and the airline doesn’t book an alternative flight for you within 24 hours.

Patrick Ikhena from Compare the Market said: “Strikes by airline or airport staff are a huge inconvenience, but unfortunately they do happen. It’s always wise to have travel insurance in advance and to check the terms of your policy before you buy to see exactly what it covers. Although insurance can’t make up for a disrupted trip, it can at least ensure you’re not out of pocket if a strike happens.”

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