British Airways staff are on strike again, and the crew’s union Unite has announced 14 days more in August. While only about one fifth of the airline’s cabin crew, all members of the Mixed Fleet, are striking, there is the potential for flight disruptions. The 14-day walk-out, which was originally planned through August 1, has now been extended until August 15.
Why are BA staff striking?
The strike action is the result of an ongoing and increasingly bitter pay dispute between the airline and its Mixed Fleet crew. Each new flight attendant hired since 2010 has fallen into this category, and, in a bid to cut costs so that BA can compete with its budget rivals, they do not enjoy the same pay and perks as other staff. Some claim to earn less than £18,000 a year. (BA says all new flight attendants earn at least £21,000 based on pay, allowances and bonuses).
Since the last Mixed Fleet strike, in January, an agreement on pay had actually been reached. New walk-outs are down to what Unite describes as “sanctions” against the 1,400 cabin crew who took industrial action six months ago – and those that strike in future. The union accused the airline of drawing up a “blacklist” to impose punishments on striking cabin crew, including cutting bonus payments and removing staff travel concessions.
What is the impact on BA’s services?
Limited. BA said: “All British Airways customers will be able to fly to their destinations despite further industrial action.” This means that only a handful of flights – if any – will be cancelled, with “a very small number” of Heathrow services “merged”. Passengers will be re-routed or re-booked on to a different flight – or offered a refund.
It added that customers should ensure their contact details on their booking are correct in case they need to be contacted: “Affected customers are being notified of their new flight details with as much notice as possible.”
Am I entitled to a refund if my flight is cancelled?
Yes. European Union regulations require airlines to offer you either a full refund of the unused parts of your tickets, or to re-route you to your destination, as soon as possible. It may also allow you to rebook your flights for a later date at no extra cost.
Will I get compensation?
Airlines are not liable to pay the additional cash compensation set out by EU regulations when they are not directly responsible for the disruption.
What should I do if I am stranded abroad?
EU regulations make it clear that, when a flight with an EU airline or from an EU airport is cancelled, an airline is liable to pay for the cost of a hotel and subsistence for all those stranded as a result, until a replacement flight is provided. Should your airline advise you to buy your own food and accommodation, keep all receipts, and keep such costs to a reasonable minimum, before making a claim when you get back home.
My flight has been cancelled – can I cancel my accommodation?
If you have booked a hotel, a villa or other accommodation independently of your travel arrangements (ie not as part of a package holiday) your contract is directly with the hotel or villa and you are responsible for any cancellation. If you can’t get there, you will have to do your best to persuade them to give you a refund or rebook for a later date – but they are not obliged to do this and you may lose money.
Am I covered by my travel insurance?
Your policy may pay out a small amount for very long delays (usually over 12 hours), but not usually enough to pay for more than a meal or two. A few policies have cover for a “consequential loss”, such as a hotel booking made independently. You will need to check the terms and conditions which apply to your policy directly with your insurer.
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