Airline strikes hit Qantas and Air FranceYour rights when a strike grounds your flight

31 October 2011


Find out which insurance policies might cover you for industrial action such as strikes

Australia's national airline, Qantas, grounded all its jets over the weekend in a move that affected 70,000 passengers worldwide.

Air France was also hit by industrial action on Saturday and Sunday, when it ran a reduced schedule, and the action by members of its cabin crew union is continuing today.

Meanwhile Thomas Cook is due to meet with the Unite union on Wednesday to try to avert a strike over job losses that could hit the .

Compensation for cancellations

The Australian government has stepped into the Qantas dispute and ordered an end to the strikes while the two sides hammer out a deal.

But the situation at the other two airlines suggests consumers are unlikely to be free of the uncertainty created by such strikes for some time.

And where do you stand if your flight is cancelled because of a strike?

Delays caused by strikes

Under the EC Denied Boarding Regulations, airlines are required to provide compensation for a cancelled flight depending on the distance of a flight and what alternative flight they are able to offer.

However, they do not have to pay compensation for cancellations if they can show the cancellation is the result of 'extraordinary circumstances'. Most airlines class strikes as 'extraordinary circumstances' so its unlikely that extra compensation will be paid.

If flights are delayed because of a strike, airlines will still have to provide you with meals and refreshments, depending on the length of the delay.

Insurance against airline strikes

Some travel insurance policies provide cover for delays and cancellations as a result of airline strikes.

Which? Travel found in April last year that 91% of insurers covered airline strikes and most divided a stoppage into two phases.

An initial specified time (usually 12 hours, and sometimes 24 hours) is covered under the 'departure delay' section of the policy, after which time you can choose to abandon your holiday. 

Cover cited for 'holiday abandonment' ranged from £3,000 to £5,000 and cover for flight delays ranged from £20 (for the first 12 hours) to £300, depending on the length of the delay.

More on this... 

  • See which travel insurance policies cover you for airline strikes
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