FAQs for those affected by British Airways Pilot strikes

With BALPA's announcement that the British Airways Pilots will be striking on 9th, 10th and 27th September, I try to clear up some questions that anxious travellers may face with the disrupted travel.

British Airways Boeing 747

Are the strikes still planned?

Yes. There is no news of any cancellation of the strike and, and BA confirmed to us just yesterday that strikes are still going ahead as previously announced.

Are the strikes definitely going ahead?

There is still the possibility that the pilots can call off the strike, but British Airways have already taken whatever mitigating circumstances they can by rescheduling customers and cabin crew rosters.

At such a late stage it would be near-impossible to just fly the original routes for the last 2 days. In a statement made to us, they said it would be like “winding the airline down, then winding it back up” during this period.

Therefore I highly doubt BA would reinstate the already-cancelled flights, at least for 9th and 10th September 2019, should the pilots choose to cancel their strike.

Are flights that depart on 8th September but land on 9th September operating?

Yes. Check Manage My Booking to be doubly sure though.

British Airways A380

Should I even show up at the airport?

British Airways are stopping their entire fleet, globally! So unless you are 1) still willing to travel, even with a delay, and 2) feasibly able to be rebooked onto another airline, then I would say don't bother. (As a side note, this implies you will have taken number 2 of the duty of care options which I outline later)

There is a justifiable reason why they are cancelling all flights on strike days though. The ballot for strikes are done in secret (union of trade membership is a special personal information under GDPR laws), and so BA do not know who will be showing up for work on strike days.

Since pilots are type-rated for specific aircrafts, there is very little chance that sufficient pilots who are not striking will be able to fly aircrafts of those who are.

And at 93% voting for ‘yes', there will be little possibility of cover anyway.

Is there an online tool to help me rebook my ticket?

BA have a ‘Help Me!' page especially for these kinds of situations. If you have a relatively simple itinerary (say, one connection at most) then you will probably be able to select your own course of remedy there. See this article which explains what is possible.

Will I get EC261 compensation?

No. For a cancellation due to strike eligible for compensation, an airline would need to cancel your flight within 14 days prior to its scheduled departure.

If your flight is cancelled with at least 2 weeks notice, including for strike reasons, it falls outside EC261 compensation rules.

This does not alleviate airlines of their duty of care though.

British Airways B747 G-BOAC flying with Red Arrows

What duty of care will British Airways have?

Duty of care is an enshrined right of any passenger departing the European Union. You have to choose between ONE of the following. Choose carefully though because you only get to do it once.

  1. If BA cancels your flight they must reimburse you. And if your have already started your itinerary but have not yet reached your destination then they must fly you back to your starting point at no cost to you
  2. BA must put you on a flight to get you to your destination at the earliest possible opportunity. Note this may be with a competitor airline.
  3. You can choose, at your convenience, to fly at a later date. The ticket must be of a comparable nature (i.e. if you bought an economy class ticket you cannot demand to be put in business class in this scenario)

If I am stuck abroad will British Airways pay for my meals and accommodation?

By the same ‘Duty of Care' law, yes they have to. You should keep a track of all your expenses, requesting receipts where necessary and file your expense claim after you get back.

Will I get my original Avios and Tier Points if my itinerary has changed?

In some cases you may wish to request your original ticketed route's Avios and Tier Points. For instance if you had originally booked something like Madrid – London – New York, but you got rebooked onto Madrid – New York, you are free to call up British Airways afterward to request credit for your original routing.

In some cases though it may work out in your favour to get a reroute. Let's say you were originally due to fly London-New York on BA. You could quite easily request a new Iberia itinerary of London-Madrid-New York instead. You would get more tier points and more Avios (before status bonuses) for the new route.

You should enter your itinerary sector-by-sector into the Tier Points and Avios Calculator to know what would suit your situation better.

Good Luck!

It's an incredibly stressful time for all, and I can confidently say no-one is a winner in this situation. Even if the strike is called off the damage has already been done. If you need any more questions answered do leave a comment below and I'll endeavour to answer them!

About Tim

Tim is an engineer and a nerd who analyses every travel deal, travel hack. He has travelled to around 90 countries and also speaks Spanish, Portuguese and Mandarin.

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  1. This statement is wrong: “As this strike was announced with 2 weeks notice, it falls outside EC261 compensation rules”

    The reason why compensation may not be due is that BA cancelled the flights giving at least 2 weeks notice, it’s not related to when the strike was announced.

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