We’re getting all too familiar with the strikes that affect our everyday lives, but you may not have considered how the upcoming industrial action could also derail your vacation plans. Passport agents and museum workers have left in recent weeks, and even getting to the airport can prove challenging with the ongoing rail strikes.
Beyond UK borders, travel-related strikes in Europe could lead to flight delays or cancellations and create problems on the ground, which will be of particular concern to families taking a mid-term holiday in February.
Here we summarize the planned travel strikes in the main European holiday destinations this month. This page will be updated regularly to reflect the latest information, but please note that some strikes are announced at short notice.
Another round of train strikes on February 3 will paralyze rail networks across the UK. Victoria and London Bridge are among the stations that will close completely and 13 train companies will not offer any services. No more train strikes have been announced, but rail union boss Mick Lynch has previously said the strikes could last until November 2023.
Meanwhile, Border Force attacks on key ports will coincide with the mid-term holidays. Around 1,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) will strike in Dover, as well as Calais, Coquelles and Dunkirk from February 17-20.
No stranger to strikes, France will see another wave of action in February. Gasoline workers will stand up for 48 hours on February 6. Similar strikes last year led to fuel shortages across the country, with more than a third of filling stations completely dry and drivers waiting for hours to refuel.
And on February 19, workers at the country’s national railway company, SNCF, will go on strike, likely to lead to widespread disruption of train services across the country.
Holidays in France could also be affected by attacks by the UK Border Force on ports including Calais, Coquelles and Dunkirk from February 17-20.
Air traffic controllers in Spain will retire on February 6, with some sort of action continuing every Monday until the end of the month.
Jet2 has warned that its flights could be affected as a result. A note on the airline’s website says: “We wanted to inform you that the industrial strike will take place on Monday, February 6, with the support of the air traffic service in Spain.
“If you are affected, rest assured that we will try to keep any disruption to a minimum. Arrive at the airport at least two hours before your departure time. Check-in closes 40 minutes before the flight’s scheduled departure time.
“For up-to-date information, please check this webpage again as well as check out the exit screens and watch for announcements. We’ll have you on your way as soon as we can.
Meanwhile, EasyJet has tried to assuage passenger fears. A spokesperson said: “We do not expect any disruption to our flight schedule, but we are advising customers traveling on the affected dates to check the status of their flights on our Flight Tracker page.”
A total of 16 airports will be affected by the strike:
Jerez de la Frontera
It is worth noting that the laws in Spain require that a minimum level of service be maintained at all times. As such, the impact of the earlier strike by airline air traffic controllers and cabin crew was less dramatic than previously feared.
Public transport staff in Italy will go on a 24-hour national strike on February 17. Other more localized actions will also take place throughout the month, but this is not expected to cause any major problems for tourists.
Railway workers across Portugal will also go on strike on February 9. The action follows strikes by the cabin crew of flag carrier TAP last month.
What to do if your travel plans are affected by a strike?
Before you travel, be sure to check for ground strikes at your destination and plan accordingly. Even localized train strikes, for example, could create problems with traveling from the airport upon arrival.
If your flight is delayed or canceled due to a strike, contact your airline immediately. Airlines are required to offer assistance, such as food and drink or accommodation, in the event of long delays due to industrial actions. Most will endeavor to place you on another flight where space allows.
For flights that are canceled outright, whether you’re entitled to compensation depends on whether the strike is seen as something the airline could feasibly control. Under UK and EU law, you are only entitled to a refund if your airline informs you that your flight has been canceled less than 14 days after you were scheduled to fly.
For more information on what to do if your flight is delayed or cancelled, read our full guide here.