Looming British Airways and airport strikes

The Times (UK) had an article today that British Airlines pilots have voted to strike, beginning as soon as August 6.

In addition, "It may coincide with a series of strikes at Heathrow by Unite union members over a pay dispute for 4,000 workers including security guards, engineers and passenger service staff. Easyjet staff at Stansted are expected to walk out in a separate dispute, while workers at Gatwick are balloting for industrial action. Ryanair pilots are due to ballot on strike action this week. The Heathrow Unite workers’ strikes will take place on Friday and Saturday, a week after the start of the school holidays. More strikes will be held on August 5, 6, 23 and 24."

My deepest sympathies to anyone traveling to or through the UK in August. Unless these strikes are settled, it's likely to be a mess.


  • It is less likely to affect the trans Atlantic flights

  • We are leaving August 9 for Heathrow with a connection to Edinburgh. Based upon the dates, can I assume that strikes in England are usually short lived and limited to the dates you quoted? We have a five hour connection. I'm glad we opted for a longer connection time. Also, we are returning from London on Sunday August 25. Since we are flying direct to the US and intercontinental flights may not be impacted, I assume we should get to the airport early to check in and get through security.

  • Your Heathrow to Edinburgh flight could be affected. Remember if flights are cancelled that could have a knock on affect for days afterwards. Heathrow airport is always busy, and I think that is a holiday weekend. Give yourself st least three hours to check in and get thru security at Heathrow.

  • I would monitor the situation and check your flights before leaving. If your flight to Edinburgh gets cancelled, you may have to rely on the trains (which could be crowded depending on the airline situation). Nothing is certain at this point.

  • Update:
    The date for the strike has been pushed back. The earliest date now appears to be August 17 (the pilots have to give two weeks notice and it appears they won't do so before the end of this week, at the earliest).
    Further details:

    • 400 of 4300 pilots are not union and will continue to fly.
    • Not all days will be "strike days."
    • BA is making contingency plans: possibly contracting with Qatar airlines to handle some flights, booking passengers on other airlines, and flying larger planes on some routes to replace multiple flights. However, it is expected that most flights will be cancelled on strike days.
    • You will get a refund plus some compensation (250 to 660 euros) if BA cancels your flight. The additional compensation only applies if the cancel your flight within 14 days of departure.

    No further word at this time on the airport personnel strikes.

    Good luck.

  • Still think transatlantic flights will be given priority over within Europe flights. Also more chance of weekend cancellations, That’s the way it usually goes and over bank holidays too ( usually at end of August)

  • The airport workers at Heathrow are now beginning their strike. On Monday and Tuesday, Heathrow has canceled 172 flight departures (as British says, probably European destinations). They are advising passengers to arrive 3 hours before their flights due to long security lines. If you have a connecting flight through Heathrow on these days you may want to check with your airline. The airport workers are also expected to go out on the bank holiday weekend beginning Friday August 23.

  • edited August 2019

    Pretty sure you will be ok Cathy because it’s all long distance. As long as you have at least a two hour layover in Heathrow, but even then it can be tight. When you get off the Chicago flight, really hustle to get to the head of the crowd for immigration and security, it can be a nightmare there particularly in August and if it is the bank holiday weekend. Wear good shoes you can run in.

  • I have flown as crew or as a passenger to every major airport in the world. Heathrow Terminal 5 is my least favorite place on the planet. We recently had a 2 1/2 hour connection from terminal 3 to 5 going from Barcelona to SFO and we barely had time to change some money and get a glass of wine at the ‘club’. I think the line to get on the bus from 3 to five was about half an hour. We were using the FAST lanes. I’ve never figured out why you have to go through security a second time at Heathrow even when arriving and departing on a BA flight. If you were a possible ‘threat’, why did they allow you on the first flight? Most other places so long as you stay within the secure area, no further checks are ‘routinely’ required. Not the case in London. Now that I have a new cobalt knee security is really a treat. I’m getting to know the security people ‘better’ than ever.

  • Yup ... the knee sure takes the ‘steam’ out of TSA Pre-check. On our last trip I even had trouble getting on the boat in a couple places.

    That eleven hour layover at Heathrow. You should consider getting a room at the Sofitel Hotel attached to terminal five. We did that on our way to Z,B, and SA, and it really helped. We did not really sleep, but we showered and stretched out for a while.

  • I just looked at the British Airways website. They announced that the stoppage tomorrow (8/5) has been postponed while the one for Tuesday (8/6) is still on. They are reinstating all of the cancelled flights for tomorrow but will have some on Tuesday. They mention that something called Fast Track and First Wing will not be open during the stoppage. Does anyone know what these are and whom they would impact? They also mention that the next possible stoppages are scheduled for 8/23 and 8/24 at the end of the month.

  • Fast Track is a priority line for Premium ticketed customers but can also be purchased. First Wing is a Premium Club for First class passengers.

  • Fast track should be for those with higher learns each and business class passengers. The 23rd and 24th is the dreaded late August Bank holiday equivalent to our Labor Day weekend

  • Oh editing is so difficult on this new forum, I mean higher security clearance

  • edited August 2019

    Sealord is absolutely correct. Avoid Heathrow at all costs especially terminal 5. We had to change planes there on our way to Tel Aviv (Israel and Jordan Tour) and it was a true nightmare. The big surprise was fighting to get on the bus then taking the 15 minute bus ride from the terminal to our plane and then having to lug our carry on bags up the ramp steps and then up the steps once on the plane to the upstairs level. For this we paid business class prices. Once we got settled into our seats we had the grand opportunity to basically stare at our neighbor in his seats as the seats face each other. Every time we raised the seat divider the crew lowered it to talk to us and serve whatever they served. Our worse airport and flight ever. Never again will we fly through Heathrow !

  • I’ve been saying to avoid Heathrow for years but it is difficult to do that going to some countries. But, if Cathy has 11 hours, at least she is going to be Ok. And if she has business class tickets she can shower and eat decent food in the lounge. The time passes faster than you think, you can go for walks, nap and read and of course the Tauck forum. I think it’s too much hassle to pay for a hotel room. If you are going to Europe, you could try flying via Manchester UK which is a big very efficient airport used by us a lot because it is near where we grew up. People were always proud to have a job there. The landing fees are also much cheaper than Heathrow, so ticket prices can be cheaper.

  • When we go to K and T in December we are flying Qatar airline, no Heathrow!

  • Cathy, I think you have to sign up to get a shower in Heathrow Cathy, so bare that in mind when you arrive. I feel very excited for you. All the strikes are sireto be over by time you go.

  • edited August 2019

    I hate Heathrow with a passion, but unfortunately I use American miles to fly first or business class and the only options from places I've been (and am going) is British Airways and they ALWAYS go through Heathrow. I learned my lesson a few trips ago and now I get mobility assistance. I had both knees replaced in March and my October riverboat cruise will be my first trip since. Luckily I fly nonstop on United to Amsterdam to start the trip, but I fly home Nov. 5 rom Zurich on BA through Heathrow. Not looking forward to it at all.

    My original BA booking had a four-hour layover, and then they changed the flight (same flight number) to leave 1.5 hours earlier. Figures!

    I am curious if Cathy was told that her bags would be checked through with an 11-hour layover. I tried to do that once, but before I booked, I called the airline and was told that the maximum layover where they would check bags through was five hours. I didn't feel like having to pick up my checked luggage and lug it around and then have to recheck it three hours before my next flight, so I just took the shorter layover and requested assistance.

  • Have had this long layover several times at Heart and never had that problem, it’s always been checked through.

  • On our eleven or so hour layover our bags were checked through to destination. And a ‘by the way’. The Sofitel Hotel attached to terminal 5 does offer a “day rate”. We have done the Africa trips three times from the West Coast and we consider the ‘day room’ option to be a near life saver. We have done the trip in business/first and in coach with near equal pain. But we found the ‘day room’ option to be the far least painful. (I don’t work for Sofitel). I just discussed this with my wife and she said, “That ... was wonderful.”

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