Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 8 December 2019

Strike at Heathrow suspended but delays remain likely: what travellers need to know

As strike action at Heathrow Airport is postponed, passengers should still reconfirm flights

Ahead of possible strike action at Heathrow Airport, flights have been cancelled and passengers are advised to leave extra time for journeys. Courtesy Heathrow Airport
Ahead of possible strike action at Heathrow Airport, flights have been cancelled and passengers are advised to leave extra time for journeys. Courtesy Heathrow Airport

Last-ditch talks aimed at averting strikes by thousands of workers at Heathrow Airport succeeded in postponing proposed industrial action, scheduled to take place on Monday, August 5.

However, the solution is temporary and the strike could still go ahead on Tuesday, August 6 if a solution is not found during talks on Monday.

Authorities at Heathrow Airport had preemptively told 91 airlines to prepare to cancel selected flights set to land or depart at Europe’s busiest airport during the industrial action. Many of these flights will remain cancelled today, due to the late decision from airport management and union officials.

The dispute is over pay rates for passenger services staff and is being organised by Unite union.

Flight cancellations

Heahtrow Airport has cancelled flights from 91 airlines. Travellers should contact their airline to reconfirm flight status. Courtesy Heathrow Airport 
Heahtrow Airport has cancelled flights from 91 airlines. Travellers should contact their airline to reconfirm flight status. Courtesy Heathrow Airport 

While the majority of flights will depart Heathrow Airport as normal, selected flights from 91 airlines have been scheduled for cancellation.

Passengers are advised to confirm flight status with the airline that they are flying with. British Airways was set to be the airline most affected, due to its large operation out of Heathrow Airport, but the airline has reinstated many flights that it had started cancelling for Monday. Passengers travelling with other airlines should reconfirm flights to see if cancelled services have been reinstated.

Virgin Atlantic announced plans to divert some flights from New York, Atlanta and Boston from Heathrow to Gatwick to minimise disruption – these changes are expected to go ahead as scheduled.

Some travellers took to social media to request that Heathrow issue a full list of flights affected, but the airport reiterated that individual airlines would provide this information.

However, many airlines maintained that they were not yet aware of any flight cancellations. At the time of writing, neither Etihad nor Emirates had issued cancellation notices for any flights.

As well as checking flight status ahead of travel, passengers should recheck this information before setting off on the journey to the airport. Travellers should also ensure the contact information they provide to airlines is up to date in order to be contactable ahead of any flight disruptions.

Arrive early

Passengers flying from Heathrow on Monday or Tuesday should allow for extra time at the airport. Heathrow advised passengers to be in the terminal building two hours before departure for UK and European flights, and three hours for all other flights.

This applies even if you already have your boarding pass and have no luggage to check in.

Be prepared for security

Passengers should also expect longer waiting times at security.

Travellers can help speed things up by arriving prepared for security with no sharp implements or liquids over 100ml in their hand baggage.

Baggage restrictions

With less ground staff, passenger baggage allowances are expected to be strictly enforced. British Airways has announced it will only allow passengers to take one small personal item on board. This must fit under the seat in front of you. Other items that could typically be taken on-board as hand luggage will need to be checked in, even if passengers have not paid for hold bags.

With airlines having more checked bags to handle, passengers are also being encouraged to keep their number of check-in bags to a minimum.

A spokesperson from Heathrow Airport said: “We will be implementing contingency plans that will ensure the airport remains open and operating safely throughout any coordinated action.”

More strike action at London Heathrow has been scheduled for August 23 and August 24 if the dispute is not resolved.

Updated: August 5, 2019 08:55 AM

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