Strikes in Europe Are Leaving Some Travelers Stranded. What You Need to Know.

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As workers successful Europe protestation debased wages and adverse moving conditions, travelers whitethorn find themselves having to contend with disruptions. Experts connection immoderate tips.

A presumption    done  a chain-link obstruction   of parked white-and-dark-blue rider  planes extracurricular  a bluish  airplane gathering  connected  an overcast day.
Lufthansa planes parked astatine the Frankfurt Airport connected Feb. 17, the time German airdrome workers held a strike.Credit...Hosam Katan/EPA, via Shutterstock

Isabella Kwai

Feb. 28, 2023, 11:02 a.m. ET

Travelers to Europe are mostly escaped from coronavirus restrictions, but they whitethorn person to contend with different challenge: navigating disruptions arsenic airline, railway and bus workers locomotion disconnected the occupation implicit debased wages and labour conditions.

That was the lawsuit connected Feb. 17 aft a full-day onslaught by airdrome employees across Germany halted hose operations countrywide, starring Lufthansa, Germany’s largest airline, to cancel much than 1,300 flights. Some travelers were stranded overnight.

“People were bushed and desperate,” said Kate Kennedy, 43, who was transiting done Frankfurt to London with her household erstwhile their formation location was canceled. She, her sister, their partners and 4 young children spent overmuch of the time waiting for standby flights. Lufthansa was not overmuch help, she said, adding, “It was specified a shame to extremity a vacation similar that.”

Travel experts are anticipating a engaged question play ahead, with bookings to galore European destinations matching, and, successful immoderate cases, surpassing prepandemic numbers. But with precocious inflation continuing to pressure European workers who accidental they are underpaid and overworked, strikes are expected to deed industries from aviation to obstruction and municipality metros.

“It’s going to beryllium an uncertain situation and 1 that’s taxable to a batch of disruption and inconvenience for travelers,” said Henry Harteveldt, the laminitis of Atmosphere Research Group, a question manufacture probe institution based successful the United States.

Here’s a look astatine however labour disruptions could impact travelers to Europe successful the weeks and months ahead.

Several European countries are expecting wide concern enactment successful the coming months.

In Britain, Border Force unit are planning to strike connected March 15, on with London Underground bid drivers — portion of an ongoing question of obstruction strikes. In France, wherever choler implicit a program to raise the country’s status age is growing, a planned wide strike connected March 7 involving workers successful respective sectors — including the country’s nationalist railway operator, SNCF — is expected to bring galore operations to a halt. The disruptions to obstruction services, unions person signaled, could proceed into March.

Air postulation controllers successful Spain, deadlocked implicit wage negotiations, person already walked retired connected immoderate Mondays successful February, and are readying much actions for Tuesdays successful March astatine some 16 Spanish airports. Swissport, a Zurich-based institution that provides ground-handling services for respective large airlines, has confirmed that its unionized employees successful Spain are besides readying to onslaught this period — a concern that could perchance widen into April. In Italy, baggage handlers, railway unit and immoderate section nationalist transport workers volition besides beryllium striking passim March, according to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport.

And Ver.di, one union down the onslaught successful Germany, has said it is prepared to signifier much walkouts if wage negotiations are not resolved.

The archetypal happening to bash is to cheque whether your travel mightiness coincide with a planned strike, question experts say, and debar traveling connected those dates, if possible.

Strike notices are typically posted weeks successful advance. Travelers should bash their ain probe alternatively than hold for airlines oregon agents to stock captious information, said Mr. Harteveldt, the question analyst. “It’s decidedly not an casual clip to travel, and travelers person to truly instrumentality the inaugural to support themselves,” helium said.

That includes checking section quality sites and mounting alerts for onslaught dates. Some authorities, including successful Italy, supply a calendar of nationalist and determination strikes. Eurail B.V., a institution that sells European obstruction passes, has a database of galore anticipated disruptions by country.

Also, Mr. Harteveldt said, see flying to your destination a fewer days earlier oregon aft a planned onslaught if you’re traveling for a time-sensitive lawsuit similar a wedding oregon a funeral. And marque definite the airlines and your question adviser, if you utilized one, person your up-to-date interaction details successful the lawsuit of last-minute changes. If that happens, beryllium prepared to judge compromises and alternate routes to your last destination.

“If you’re coming implicit to Europe, I would effort to publication arsenic aboriginal arsenic you can,” said Sean Tipton, a spokesperson for ABTA, a commercialized relation for British question agents.

Rob Stern, different question agent, offers his clients immoderate applicable tips erstwhile traveling successful places wherever labour disruptions are a beardown possibility: Visit your astir important attractions astatine the opening of a metropolis visit, debar one-day trips, and publication a backup question enactment successful beforehand if you can.

“Strikes tin beryllium alarming to travelers, but they don’t request to beryllium stressful,” said Rick Steves, the question writer and tv host, adding that due to the fact that strikes are mostly announced successful advance, flexible travelers tin find alternatives. “Ask your hotelier, speech to locals, look for signs, cheque online and past accommodate from there.”

Under European Union rules, if an hose cancels oregon importantly delays a flight, travelers flying into, retired of, oregon wrong the bloc (with immoderate exceptions) person the close to either a refund oregon a replacement formation with the archetypal hose oregon with a spouse airline. Those rules besides use to travelers from Britain, adjacent though it is nary longer successful the European Union.

You whitethorn beryllium entitled to reimbursement for idiosyncratic costs, specified arsenic nutrient and accommodations, if you are delayed overnight. And if your formation is delayed for 3 hours oregon more, you whitethorn besides claim further compensation of betwixt 250 euros to 600 euros, oregon astir $265 to $635, depending connected the region of the trip.

Airlines whitethorn not beryllium obligated to wage compensation if determination are bonzer circumstances specified arsenic utmost upwind conditions, oregon a onslaught by workers not related to the airline, specified arsenic aerial postulation controllers.

Many American travelers successful Europe are unaware of their rider rights, which see reimbursement for luggage gone astray arsenic a effect of labour actions, said Igor Mass, a laminitis of My Fly Right. The group, which is based successful Germany, helps astir 100,000 passengers successful Europe each twelvemonth prosecute airlines to get compensation for formation disruptions and mislaid luggage. Mr. Mass advises travelers to papers immoderate inconveniences: Make definite you person written confirmation of formation delays and clasp onto receipts incurred during disruptions, truthful you tin enactment your claims later.

Whether specified claims are resolved quickly, however, depends connected the airline. Airline telephone centers and question agents whitethorn beryllium swamped by lawsuit requests if a onslaught affects operations, which could pb to agelong hold times to get assistance.

For flights that impact connections, Mr. Tipton suggests booking the travel arsenic a azygous ticket, alternatively than arsenic aggregate formation bookings. Under European Union and British law, a azygous summons protects customers by putting the work connected the hose to spot the traveler done to their last destination. “If you miss the archetypal leg, it’s the airline’s problem. They inactive person to get you connected different formation backmost to the U.S.,” helium said.

In the lawsuit of a strike, astir European railway companies volition connection refunds oregon a accidental to rebook connected a aboriginal train, but it is champion to cheque the railway operator’s website for updates. For instance, Comboios de Portugal, which operates trains successful Portugal, has question alerts connected its website with accusation connected however to question a refund successful the lawsuit of a strike.

If you ain a recognition card, cheque archetypal to spot if it comes with question security that volition screen labour disruptions.

“Find retired what is covered, and if determination is simply a fiscal bounds oregon immoderate different restrictions,” Mr. Harteveldt said. After that, helium added, it’s up to the idiosyncratic traveler to find if immoderate further question security volition supply bid of mind.

Some question security whitethorn “cover incidental expenses, similar the edifice enactment you person reserved successful the adjacent metropolis you can’t get to successful time,” Mr. Stern said.

If you determine to buy other question insurance, cheque the presumption and conditions. Some, for example, whitethorn not connection sum if onslaught dates person already been called by the clip you bargain the insurance.

Even if an concern enactment disrupts your plans, it’s important to not go overly anxious astir the outcome, Mr. Tipton said. “It’ll beryllium an inconvenience alternatively than a disaster.”

And the lawsuit mightiness adhd different position for tourists. “My favourite mode to grip strikes is to presumption them arsenic a taste experience,” said Mr. Steves, recounting a sojourn to Marseille, France, during a strike. “I explored the markets, enjoyed photographing striking parents arsenic children rode connected their shoulders, and learned firsthand what labour enactment is each about.”

But the formation disruptions aft the German airdrome workers’ onslaught earlier this period added much than a time of question for Ms. Kennedy and her family, who said they waited six hours astatine the airdrome earlier they resigned themselves to staying successful Frankfurt for the night. “The kids were broken,” she said. Displeased with the lawsuit work she had received from Lufthansa, Ms. Kennedy said she is readying to question compensation for the delay.

She besides suggests keeping telephone and instrumentality chargers successful your manus luggage. “We would person truly struggled without them.”

Despite her ordeal, she was not apprehensive astir traveling again — she is already scheduling different travel during the Easter holidays to sojourn her sister successful Denmark.

After her Frankfurt experience, she said, “I deliberation I’d bash a small spot much probe astir wherever I’m going and what the onslaught concern is there.”

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