Last Friday, crew members working for British Airways announced they will be walking out in September over a pay dispute. The strike is due to take place on the 9th and 10th September and will mean disruption for passengers planning to travel on these days. A further strike is planned for the 27th September, involving members of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA).
British Airways offered staff, what they consider to be, a ‘fair and generous’ pay increase. This was rejected by BALPA, who believes its members deserve more.
Though British Airways are advising their passengers that it is likely they will not be able to fly due to the strikes, this is not the case.
Under the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) Regulations, if a flight is cancelled passengers are entitled to a full refund of any unused tickets or alternative travel arrangements, including a ‘re-route’ option. If British Airways are unable to rebook passengers on one of their own flights, they must arrange for the passenger to fly with a rival airline. In this case, either EasyJet or Virgin Atlantic.
Passengers who choose to re-book should be offered accommodation if necessary. Despite British Airways claiming this should be booked and paid for by the passenger and then claimed back from the airline, the CAA state the airline is responsible for arranging accommodation on behalf of the passenger. There is also no maximum rate for passengers who do book their own hotels.
British Airways has not handled the strike action particularly well. On Friday, some passengers received an email alerting them that their flight had been cancelled, only to receive an email several hours later to say that this was an error and their flight was still scheduled to go ahead. By this time, many passengers had already booked alternative flights. The CAA have said that passengers affected by the error should be able to claim for the cost of rebooking an alternative flight.
The airline has brought in 100 extra staff members to deal with complaints from customers, and now has around 730 members handling telephone calls and social media messages.
Keen to take advantage of the strike action, rival airlines have pushed their prices up and are set to make millions. According to The Independent, one-way tickets for a short haul flight are costing more than a round trip from London to Melbourne.