Ask the traveller: cabin crew strike
Wednesday 30 March 2011
Q: My wife and I are booked to go to the UAE at the start of the Easter holidays on British Airways. I have just learnt that cabin crew may strike over this period. BA is saying it plans to run 100 per cent of the long-haul flights from Heathrow. Is this likely? Could it lead to delays at the airport? Should I cancel? Carl Rees
The latest British Airways cabin crew ballot saw union members vote 5-1 in favour of more strikes. The union, Unite, has not yet announced any strike dates; it must give at least one week's notice of action, and any stoppage must begin no later than 25 April. Talks are continuing.
In the event of another strike, the airline aims to fly all long-haul services, including yours. A spokesman for BA says there are "robust and well-rehearsed contingency plans".
BA is relying on the 57 per cent of cabin crew who did not vote in favour of a strike, augmented by more than 1,000 volunteers from elsewhere in the airline, to cover for strikers.
Delays to your trip are unlikely. Indeed, during last year's strikes, by taking out a proportion of flights, industrial action actually accelerated other services by reducing aircraft queues on the ground and in the air.
Cancellation without penalty is not an option at this stage, and – if the airline's confidence is justified – will not be offered. In common with a couple of million other BA passengers holding bookings for April, all you can do is wait and hope. The union has warned opaquely of "weird and wondrous initiatives" that could thwart the airline's plans. But the worst you are likely to experience is a reduced inflight offering, and a gruff old captain spilling coffee in your lap.
BA also says it will operate a normal schedule at Gatwick and London City, and "the majority" of its short-haul, flights from Heathrow.
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