Travel advice on the UK border strike
UK border staff are due to strike this Thursday (10th May). Find out what your rights are if the disruption affects your travel plans as well as what World First customers are covered for by their travel insurance.
When is the strike?
Border staff across the UK are due to strike on Thursday (10th May).
Which areas will the strike affect?
Much of the commentary on the forthcoming industrial action has focused on Heathrow. While it’s true that Heathrow looks set to face the most airport disruption, it’s worth remembering that this is a national strike. The union staging the action represents around 4,500 border staff, so other airports – and ports with international entry – will be affected.
There’s also a small chance that the strikes will cause disruption beyond the UK. Major delays processing inbound passengers would lead to arrival terminals swelling to capacity, forcing airlines to hold arriving passengers on their planes. That would in turn cause airport gridlock, with cancellations of departing aircraft and diversions or cancellations for inbound flights.
How disruptive will the strike be?
It’s difficult to say how disruptive the border strikes will be. Heathrow coped well during a similar border staff strike last November, with minimal delays to both inbound and outbound travellers. However, there’s no guarantee that the same will happen again. Especially as the airport has received increasing criticism recently for the length of time it is taking to process inbound travellers, particularly those from outside the EU.
What if your flight is delayed?
Compensation rules generally apply after a delay of between two and four hours. At that point, passengers are entitled to compensation for meals and refreshments in relation to waiting time as well as two free telephone calls, emails, telexes or faxes. However, if you are flying between non-EU airports on a non-EU airline, these rules do not apply. Most airlines will offer you refreshments and hotel accommodation if required, but not cash compensation.
If you are a World First Travel Insurance policyholder you can claim compensation whether you are delayed in arrivals or the departure lounge. We’ll give you a cash benefit for any delay of twelve hours or more – usually £20 for the first 12 hours and £10 per 12 hours thereafter. You can find out more about our policy benefits at www.world-first.co.uk.
What if your flight is cancelled?
If your flight is cancelled because of the strike, your airline is legally obliged to give you the choice of accepting either a refund or an alternative flight. If you decide to wait for an alternative flight, your airline is required to pay for your meals and refreshments in relation to your waiting time as well as overnight hotel accommodation and transfers as necessary.
However, airlines are not required to reimburse you for money you lose on other parts of your holiday, such as accommodation or hire car bookings. That’s where we come in. If the border staff strike causes you to be delayed by 24 hours or more, you can cancel your holiday and claim up to £3,000 worth of unrecoverable costs on your World First insurance policy.
What if a flight delay causes you to miss a connecting flight?
If your flight into or out of the UK is a connecting flight, a delay at the airport could cause you to miss the next part of your journey – whether it’s by air, land or sea. All World First policies come with cover for missed departure of pre-booked travel. This entitles you to compensation for any unexpected hotel costs and alternative travel costs incurred in reaching your final destination.
Can you change your flight to avoid the strikes?
If you have a flexible ticket, then you can change your flight times without penalty. This is usually not the case with standard tickets. However, in the past some airlines have allowed passengers to make alterations to their flight plans to avoid industrial action.