The strikes that could ruin your holiday – our calendar of travel chaos

british airways - HANNAH MCKAY/Reuters
british airways - HANNAH MCKAY/Reuters

We are becoming all too familiar with strikes impacting our everyday lives, and it’s now time to consider how upcoming industrial action could also throw your holiday plans into disarray.

Holidaymakers face chaos at Heathrow over Easter with security workers set to walk out for 10 days (between March 31 and April 9) – a decision that has prompted British Airways to cancel dozens of flights over the 10-day period. Meanwhile, Passport Office workers are to strike for five weeks from April 7 – likely to have “significant impact” on summer holidaymakers – and Border Force staff will join a strikes on the May Day bank holiday weekend.

Beyond UK borders, travel-related strikes in Europe are impacting holidays. A general strike in France over pension reforms recently caused issues across its transport network, with flight and Eurostar cancellations plus ferry delays. While Germany's transport network came to a near standstill during one of its largest strikes in decades on March 27.

Here we round up the travel strikes across key European holiday destinations in the coming months. This page will be regularly updated to reflect the latest information, but note that some strikes are announced with little notice.


As outlined above, travellers are set to face chaos at Heathrow over Easter with security workers set to strike for 10 days. The action will affect people flying in and out of Terminal 5 from March 31 to April 9 as 1,500 security staff walk out, including those who carry out checks on travellers and their luggage as they pass through to departures.

As a result of the strike British Airways has confirmed that around five per cent of all flights across the period, equating to around 16 round trips a day, will be cancelled. The worst-hit flights will be multi-frequency short-haul flights, with BA’s long-haul services not affected.

Anyone needing to apply for, or renew, a passport could also be impacted by industrial action. Passport Office workers in England, Scotland and Wales are set to strike for five weeks, from April 3 to May 5, in an escalation of a dispute over jobs, pay and conditions. Those working in Durham, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Newport, Peterborough and Southport will walk out from April 3 to May 5 while those in Belfast will strike from April 7 to May 5.

It has also been confirmed that members of Border Force staff will be among more than 130,000 civil service workers set to walk out on strike on April 28 – the May Day bank holiday weekend.

Rail strikes planned for the March 30 and April 1 have now been cancelled.


No stranger to strikes, France is experiencing another round of general walkouts, due to outrage about proposed pension reforms.

French trade unions called for a tenth day of nation-wide strikes and protests on March 28. This sees rail services, buses and flights impacted. The civil aviation authority has asked airlines to cancel 20 percent of flights going in and out of four airports, due to air traffic controllers striking – the affected airports are; Paris Orly, Marseille, Bordeaux and Toulouse. Some of Paris' tourist sites will see limited opening times.

During recent action, union activists blocked access to Terminal 1 at the Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, and union sources estimate that about 25 percent of rail service workers walked out.

Departures from the UK could experience delays or last minute cancellations.


Airport ground staff employed by Swissport in Spain are planning strike action on March 20, 21, 23, 27-28 and 30, as well as April 3-4, 6, 10-11 and 13.

Seventeen airports across Spain will be affected by the walkouts but major airlines have downplayed their impact. In Spain, labour laws require a certain level of service be maintained even during industrial action, so it tends to see less delays and cancellations than say France or the UK. A spokesperson for Swissport said: “A comprehensive contingency plan is in place to limit disruptions to our airline customers and passengers travelling via Spanish airports.”

The affected airports are:

  • Madrid-Barajas

  • Barcelona-El Prat

  • Reus

  • Alicante

  • Valencia

  • Murcia

  • Málaga

  • Almería

  • Salamanca

  • Valladolid

  • Burgos

  • Logroño

  • Zaragoza

  • Huesca

  • Lanzarote

  • Gran Canaria

  • Tenerife Sur airports.


Air traffic controllers across Italy will strike on April 2. This will impact airports across the country but is relatively short, running from 1pm to 5pm on the day only. There are also local strikes at Bologna Airport, Naples Airport Rome Urbe Airport on the same date.


EasyJet cabin crew staff in Portugal are due to walkout from April 1 to April 3, over pay and working conditions. The carrier has said it expects some flight disruption with Lisbon, Faro and Porto the airports impacted.

EasyJet said: “We are disappointed with this action, especially given the significant investment we have made in the country in recent years which has created hundreds of new jobs in Portugal and hope that SNPVAC will resume a constructive dialogue with us.”

What to do if your travel plans are impacted by strike action?

Before travelling, be sure to check whether there are any strikes on the ground in your destination and plan accordingly. Even localised train strikes, for example, could create issues travelling from the airport upon arrival.

If your flight is delayed or cancelled due to strike action, contact your airline immediately. Airlines are obliged to offer assistance such as food and drink or accommodation for extensive delays due to industrial action. Most will endeavour to place you on another flight where space allows.

For flights which are cancelled outright, whether you are entitled to compensation depends on if the strike is considered to be something the airline could feasibly control. Under UK and EU law, you're only entitled to a refund if your carrier informs you your flight is cancelled less than 14 days' from the date you're due to fly.

For more information on what to do if your flight is delayed or cancelled, read our comprehensive guide, here.