Brits should ‘brace for a summer of travel mayhem’ as countries across Europe face months of transport strikes during peak holiday time.
Italy, France, Portugal and Spain are facing air, rail and public transport strike action in the coming months – potentially proving disastrous for holidaymakers.
With soem 30million Brits travelling abroad every year, millions jetting off have been increasingly met with airport chaos – ranging from last week’s Gatwick Airport flight cancellations to nightmare queues caused by e-gate malfunctions.
Thousands of UK train drivers have voted overwhelmingly to continue walkouts over the next six months in their long-running dispute over pay, Aslef announced.
It comes amid the threat of 29 days of Heathrow Airport security guard strikes.
On June 6, Ryanair was forced to cancel 400 flights when French air traffic control workers walked out over Emmanuel Macron’s pension reforms, leaving passengers facing long delays or stuck on planes with dwindling food supplies.
Brits should ‘brace for a summer of travel mayhem’ as countries across Europe face months of transport strikes during peak holiday time
In May, passengers were waiting long queues, sometimes for hours, when e-gates stopped working
Queues of unlucky EasyJet passengers were seen at Gatwick on Sunday as several flights were axed
James Brockbank, founder of The Family Vacation Guide, told MailOnline: ‘With workers across Europe protesting inadequate pay and working conditions, Brits must brace for a summer of travel mayhem.
‘My advice would be to stay updated about the news as well as the latest information from your airlines and follow the advice of your travel operator.’
Mr Brockbank recommends travel insurance that covers unforeseen events or disruptions and looking up the forms of compensation you can claim if you are affected by travel disruptions.
‘It’s worth noting that strike actions are dynamic situations, and the dates and extent of disruptions may change,’ he added.
Ross Matthews, chief sales and marketing officer for Eurocamp, told MailOnline: ‘With strike action at Heathrow airport nearly every weekend of the summer holidays and various walkouts scheduled across Europe at the same time, it’s understandable that holidaymakers are increasingly concerned about how this will impact them.
‘To end the chaos, unions and airports need to work together to find a solution. It’s clear there is a need to address under-staffing concerns whilst also reaching a fair payment agreement for valuable airport workers, passport officials and security staff.’
He added: ‘It is not fair to disrupt what should be a wonderful holiday experience for families and holidaymakers across the country.’
And it’s not just strike action that could impact travellers holiday plans, as destinations popular with Brits, Italy and Spain, have seen flash flooding in recent weeks.
Roads in parts of Spain were turned into rivers in May, after record hot weather on the Iberian peninsula moved to the UK, replaced by torrential rains, breaking a prolonged drought.
And in Italy, thousands of people were evacuated from their homes in the popular holiday region of Emilia-Romagna. The Italian Grand Prix in Imola was also cancelled after the deadly floods turned streets into fast-moving rivers.
But with no end in sight to many worker pay disputes, strike-induced travel disruption is likely to continue this summer across Europe.
Portugal is facing a host of travel strikes, including walk-outs by border control at Lisbon Airport for six days this month, from June 17 to 19 and June 24 to 26.
Other airports in the popular holiday destination will also see walk-outs, with strike action planned at Porto, Faro and Madeira airports on June 19 and 26.
Misery was caused for at least 15,000 passengers, with EasyJet axing 54 flights scheduled to take off and land at Gatwick on Sunday, with a further 55 grounded on Monday. Pictured: Holidaymakers stuck at Gatwick
Staff walkouts in France by forced hundreds of Ryanair flights to be grounded on June 6, the budget airline said
In Italy, whilst laws are in place to ensure minimum service levels during public transport strikes, disruptions are likely to still occur.
A 24-hour strike by public transport staff, for trains, ferries and metro services, is planned for July 7.
Security staff at Milan Malpensa Airport will strike for four hours from 11am to 3pm on June 18, while baggage handlers at all airports will stage a 24-hour-long walkout on June 20.
Staff at Italy’s main air traffic control operator, ENAV, are going on strike for 24 hours on Saturday July 15.
And in Spain, the Spanish Airline Pilots Union (SEPLA), which represents Air Europa pilots, are considering strike action.
It has been suggested that these walk-outs will take place between June 19 and July 2 but no specific dates have been announced as of yet. Air Europa operates flights across the world.
There is also a continuous strike from SEPLA against Air Nostra, a regional airline run by Iberia, which is running from Monday to Friday every day and has cancelled 20 per cent of the airline’s flights so far.
Travel chiefs are also keeping an eye on whether planned strikes by security guards at Heathrow Airport go ahead and cause disruption.
The action for June 24 and 25 was postponed following an improved pay offer.
But more than 2,000 Unite members could still walk out if the latest offer is rejected by the union.
If rejected, walk-outs could go ahead on June 28 to 30, July 14 to 16, 21 to 24 and 28-31, and August 11 to 14, 18 to 20 and 24 to 27.
Over 4 million travellers are at risk of their holidays being disrupted.
During previous strikes, Heathrow has made contingency plans to deploy office staff to assist travellers at security checkpoints. However if the strikes do go ahead, they could still lead to flight cancellations, delays and overall congestion at the airport, impacting travellers’ departure and arrival plans.
In Toulouse, France, public transport workers are also set to strike on June 20 and 21.
It was not just Ryanair that faced issues due to French ATC strikes, as EasyJet flights were cancelled and passengers were stranded in Nice last night
A view of electronic passport gates at Gatwick Airport as they failed across the UK over the Easter bank holiday weekend
Air travel was heavily impacted on June 6 when air traffic controllers in France went on strike over pension reform to increase the retirement age from 62 to 64.
Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary expressed frustration that overflights across Europe were being cancelled, rather than French domestic flights. The airline was forced to cancel hundreds of flights last minute.
He said: ‘It’s absolutely indefensible that flights going from Ireland to Italy, from Poland to Portugal, or from Spain to Germany are being cancelled simply because the French want to prioritise their domestic flights and cancel all the overflights.’
Air traffic controllers are needed to make contact during overflights, where planes are flying through the French airspace. Airline EasyJet also saw cancellations and delays.
No further strikes have been announced for the summer yet in Germany, but there is a deadlock between Deutche Bahn, the national railway company of Germany, and trade union EVG – which represents workers for 50 rail companies.
On June 2, the union threatened further industrial action if DB refused to come back to negotiations, saying: ‘If nothing happens at the negotiating table, we have to apply pressure with #Warnstreiks.’
Lufthansa pilots had agreed not to strike until June 2023, so there could still be strikes announced by the airline for this summer.
And for British travellers hoping to jet to the US, both American and Southwest airlines have voted for strike action – though no date is set as of yet.
Travel expert’s top tips on what to do if your flight is cancelled or delayed
Monitor Your Flight
It is more important than ever to carefully monitor your journey, with both delays and cancellations becoming more frequent in recent years. Before heading to the airport, consider downloading your airline’s app to your mobile phone so that you can closely monitor the status of your flight. You can also sign up for text updates and alerts if your flight is going to be delayed or cancelled. As soon as you hear of flight delays or cancellations be sure to contact the airline’s customer service team directly, they will be able to assist you with what to do next.
Source Alternative Flights & Refunds
For flights covered by UK law, your airline must let you choose between a refund or an alternative flight if yours is cancelled. These options must be provided regardless of how far in advance the cancellation was made. If you still want to travel, your airline must find you an alternative flight. Similarly, if your flight is cancelled, your airline must provide vouchers for you to purchase food and drink. And, if you require accommodation, they may book a hotel and arrange transportation for you.
Check for Compensation
If your flight is cancelled you may be entitled to compensation, however, compensation can depend upon the cause of cancellation. For circumstances which fall to the fault of the airline, you have compensation rights under UK law. Disruptions such as extreme weather, airport or air traffic control employee strikes or other extraordinary circumstances are not eligible for compensation. Take the time to double-check your rights as a passenger before submitting a claim.
Purchase Travel Insurance
For all trips, both long and short-haul, you should consider purchasing travel insurance that covers both flight delays and cancellations. Although your airline is required to look after you after a specific delay duration in some countries, most travel insurance packages offer additional coverage for travel uncertainty.
Consider Taking Hand Luggage
Lost luggage has become an increasingly common issue in airports over the past few months, and the last thing you want following a flight delay or cancellation is for your luggage to go missing too! For those who don’t want to risk their luggage getting lost in baggage operations, carrying hand luggage only may be your best bet. However, be sure to check the airline’s regulations on what you can carry in your hand luggage, including liquid restrictions.
Source: Cody Candee, CEO and Founder of luggage storage company Bounce