Airport staff strikes, airline staff strikes, pilot strikes: Can you get compensated?

Ryanair pilot strikes in a few days. British Airways strike next week. Heathrow airport staff strike next month. If you follow the travel news, sometimes it feels like there is a huge airport strike happening every week. And sometimes it is true. If you are travelling once in a while, chances are you will have to experience that yourself one day. What are your rights in these situations?

Can you get compensation, if it does affect your travel plans? There are situations when you can. But there are also situations when you can’t.

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Airport strike - Men in uniforms

Airport staff strikes, airline staff strikes, pilot strikes

Airport staff strikes and airline staff strikes.

These two one day may affect your travel plans. Or, maybe it has already happened. The main difference between the two - when we talk about passenger rights - is that in case of an airport staff strike you can’t get compensated. You may try to sue the airport, but your chances of winning the case at trial will be small.

Because there are no common rules regarding that.

So, unless your travel insurance is covering that most likely you’ll get no compensation.

If it’s an airline staff strike, things are slightly different. And better for you. Because in some situations you will be entitled to flight compensation.

Only then we should look at what kind of strike is it.

It’s also important to understand, that ground staff not always is employed by the airline directly. So, if they go on a strike you can’t always be 100% sure if it’s an airline staff strike or not.

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Wizz Air a321 aircraft

Planned strikes and cat strikes

There are two types of airline staff strikes: planned strikes and cat strikes.

Wildcat strikes or simply cat strikes aren’t planned or announced before. It’s when workers suddenly stop working because they don't agree with their employer (airline) about something. They just happen.

Regular, planned strikes are considered extraordinary circumstances. Or in other words - something out of the airline’s control. If your flight gets delayed or cancelled because of that you’ll not be getting a compensation from the airline.

At the same time cat strikes aren't considered extraordinary circumstances.

And, if your flight is heavily delayed (3+ hours) or cancelled, you’ll be entitled to flight delay compensation from the airline. Plus the airline will still have to take you to your destination or give you a full refund.

This applies to all flights operated by European airlines (to, from, within Europe). And if you're flying with non-EU airlines, then it applies to all its flights departing from Europe. The same rules apply also to charter airlines.

You have the right to care

In Europe you are protected.

Yes, you can’t always get a compensation in cash. But overall when flying in Europe you are well protected by EU regulations and laws. Even if you are just a foreign tourist travelling to Europe. First of all, the airline still have an obligation to take you to your destination or to give you a full refund.

But that’s not all.

When things go wrong, you have the right to care.

If there is a strike here is what your airline should provide you with:

  • If you’ll have to wait 3+ hours. A free meal and drink, plus two free phone calls, e-mails or faxes. Mostly in form of coupons.
  • If you’ll have to wait overnight. Apart from the above mentioned, a free hotel room and transportation to and from it should be provided.

No matter the circumstances. No matter who’s on a strike, or what kind of strike is it.

This applies to all flights operated by European airlines (to, from, within Europe). If it’s a non-European airline, then it applies to all its flights departing from Europe. And also to charter airlines.

Airplane seats

What if you have a travel insurance?

It depends. Travel insurance policies differ from one company to another.

Some travel insurance plans do cover these kind of travel disruptions, while others don’t. Make sure to read the small print before purchasing one. Or, if it has already happened - your travel plans are going to be affected because of a planned strike - read your insurance policy or contact your insurer.

It’s always a good idea to have a travel insurance.

Safe travels!

By Europe and EU we mean all EU Member States, the United Kingdom (UK), Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Reunion, Mayotte, Saint Martin, the Azores, Madeira, the Canary Islands, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland.