The strikes that could ruin your holiday – our calendar of travel chaos
We are becoming all too familiar with strikes impacting our everyday lives, but you may not have considered how upcoming industrial action could also throw your holiday plans into disarray. The likes of passport officers and museum workers have walked out in recent weeks, and even getting to the airport can prove a challenge with ongoing rail strikes.
And now, holidaymakers face chaos at Heathrow over Easter with security workers set to walk out for 10 days (between March 31 and April 9). Meanwhile, the latest round of train strikes is set to take place on March 30 and April 1, with the days either side also likely to be impacted.
Beyond UK borders, travel-related strikes in Europe are impacting holidays. A general strike in France over pension reforms last week caused issues across its transport network, with flight and Eurostar cancellations plus ferry delays. With the row ongoing, more strikes could be announced to coincide with the Easter holidays.
Here we round up the travel strikes across key European holiday destinations this month. This page will be regularly updated to reflect the latest information, but note that some strikes are announced with little notice.
As outlined above, travellers are set to face chaos at Heathrow over Easter with security workers set to strike for 10 days. The action will affect people flying in and out of Terminal 5 from March 31 to April 9 as 1,500 security staff walk out, including those who carry out checks on travellers and their luggage as they pass through to departures.
More major rail disruption is also forecast in the coming weeks with the March 30 and April 1 confirmed as strike action days. There are 14 train companies which will be affected by the staff walkouts, and it is expected that these will be the same ones which have been hit by earlier strikes. These are:
Cross Country Trains
East Midlands Railway,
Great Western Railway,
South Western Railway
Avanti West Coast,
West Midlands Trains
GTR (including Gatwick Express).
No stranger to strikes, France is experiencing another round of general walkouts, due to outrage about proposed pension reforms. A general strike between March 20 and 23 has led to warnings of delays and cancellations from the likes of Easyjet and Ryanair.
EasyJet said: “Air traffic control staff are joining the strike action and therefore like all airlines, our flights to and from French airports, as well as those flying in French airspace, could be affected.
“We expect that there will be delays and some disruption due to the industrial action, therefore we advise all customers to check the status of their flight on our flight tracker either on our mobile app or website.
“Please also be aware that public transport services may be affected by the strike.
“We recommend all customers allow plenty of extra time to get to the airport and consider alternative transport options where possible.”
Eurostar, meanwhile, has said it expects trains to run normally in the coming days.
Airport ground staff employed by Swissport in Spain are planning strike action on March 20, 21, 23, 27-28 and 30, as well as April 3-4, 6, 10-11 and 13.
Seventeen airports across Spain will be affected by the walkouts but major airlines have downplayed their impact. In Spain, labour laws require a certain level of service be maintained even during industrial action, so it tends to see less delays and cancellations than say France or the UK.
EasyJet cabin crew staff in Portugal are due to walkout from April 1 to April 3, over pay and working conditions. The carrier has said it expects some flight disruption with Lisbon, Faro and Porto the airports impacted.
EasyJet said: “We are disappointed with this action, especially given the significant investment we have made in the country in recent years which has created hundreds of new jobs in Portugal and hope that SNPVAC will resume a constructive dialogue with us.”
What to do if your travel plans are impacted by strike action?
Before travelling, be sure to check whether there are any strikes on the ground in your destination and plan accordingly. Even localised train strikes, for example, could create issues travelling from the airport upon arrival.
If your flight is delayed or cancelled due to strike action, contact your airline immediately. Airlines are obliged to offer assistance such as food and drink or accommodation for extensive delays due to industrial action. Most will endeavour to place you on another flight where space allows.
For flights which are cancelled outright, whether you are entitled to compensation depends on if the strike is considered to be something the airline could feasibly control. Under UK and EU law, you're only entitled to a refund if your carrier informs you your flight is cancelled less than 14 days' from the date you're due to fly.
For more information on what to do if your flight is delayed or cancelled, read our comprehensive guide, here.