BA cancels hundreds of flights during Heathrow Easter strike

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By Lisa James
28/03/2023
Home » BA cancels hundreds of flights during Heathrow Easter strike

British Airways is cancelling about 32 flights each day during planned industrial action at Heathrow over Easter.

More than 1,400 security guards employed by Heathrow Airports Ltd (HAL) are expected to walk out for 10 days from 31 March and 9 April in a dispute over pay, the Unite union says.

Most of the strike staff are based at Heathrow Terminal 5, which is exclusively used by BA, but staff employed in ‘campus security’, which covers the whole airport, also voted to strike.

As a result, Heathrow has asked all airlines to consider halting further bookings on strike days, offer flexible booking and not route additional passengers through Heathrow.

Heathrow said it’s putting contingency measures in place, such as bringing in additional staff including its management team.

British Airways says about 16 round trips per day are being cancelled, on average 32 flights each day of the strike, which BA says equates to around 5% of all its flights.

The cancellations affect multi-frequency short haul destinations and BA says it is rebooking as many customers as possible on alternative BA flights or with another carrier.

The airline says it expects the vast majority of customers will be able to travel within 24 hours of their originally planned flight.

Long haul flights to and from Heathrow are not affected, nor are flights to and from Gatwick and London City Airports.

Customers can also get a refund and passengers who do fly on strike days can check in their hand luggage allowance free of charge to help reduce time in security queues.

BA said customers should check ba.com for the latest information on their flight before travelling to Heathrow.

BA said: “Following Heathrow’s requirement for us to reduce the number of passengers travelling during the period of its employees’ proposed strike action, we’ve regrettably had to make a small number of adjustments to our schedule.

“We’ve apologised to customers whose travel plans have been affected and have offered them a range of options, including rebooking onto a new flight with us or another airline, or requesting a full refund. 

“Our teams are continuing to work closely with Heathrow to ensure that our customers’ journeys run smoothly.”

Virgin Atlantic and partner Delta Air Lines, which are both based at Terminal 3, are allowing passengers departing between 31 March and 2 April inclusive to change their booking without paying an admin fee or the difference in ticket price.  

The new travel date must be completed no later than 30 June 2023 on the same route and cabin class.

Virgin said: “Our priority is to ensure that our Heathrow customers can complete their travel plans as smoothly as possible, if the proposed Unite industrial action goes ahead.

“We continue to work with Heathrow to understand the potential impact on customers at our home in Terminal 3 and put appropriate measures in place.

“Between 31 March and 2 April we expect the airport to be particularly busy, with longer wait times at security if the strike goes ahead. 

“To support existing customers with departing flights, we’ve introduced a flexible policy which allows free of charge rebooking, if customers prefer to avoid the busiest published strike days.”

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “We will not let these unnecessary strikes impact the hard-earned holidays of our passengers.

“Our contingency plans will keep the airport operating as normal throughout.

“We are deploying 1,000 additional colleagues and the entire management team who will be in the terminals providing assistance to passengers over the busy Easter getaway.

“As at any busy time, it may take a little longer than usual to get through security, but this will be well managed and kept flowing.

“Passengers can help us ensure they get the best start to their journeys by checking their flight status with their airline before travelling to the airport, arriving at Heathrow no earlier than two hours before short haul flights and three hours before long haul flights and by being ready for security with their compliant liquids and electronics out of their hand luggage.”

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