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HEATHROW STRIKE UPDATE: British Airways and Virgin Atlantic emergency measures

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EDIT 7pm Sunday: The strike has been suspended for Monday 5th August. Strikes for Tuesday 6th August are still scheduled. Read our latest update.

EDIT:  The list of British Airways cancellations and terminal switches for Monday 5th August is in this HfP article.  The article below has not been re-written to reflect the fact that cancellations have now been published.

British Airways has published the list of emergency measures it is taking in light of the strike due at Heathrow Airport on Monday 5th and Tuesday 6th August.

ALL airlines operating out of Heathrow will be impacted by this strike which is by staff directly employed by the airport. I have focused on BA in this article but you will also be hit if you are flying with someone else.

Heathrow has told airlines to cancel 172 flights, of which half will be BA services.  The list is not public. BA will not trigger these until the last minute in case the strike is called off.

First, a quick Virgin update ….

Virgin Atlantic has announced that some Heathrow flights will depart and arrive via Gatwick instead.

This is now confirmed – on Friday night it was just a possibility. Check the Virgin website here for details.

Back to the British Airways changes ….

The bottom line is – if you can change your BA short-haul flight you probably should, although cancellations are not being allowed.  At present, the A350 media flight to Madrid is still going ahead.

No long-haul changes are being allowed.

You won’t be taking much hand baggage, you may not be fed, security will take a long time and flights will be cancelled whenever the airport gets too busy.

Rebooking is available on any BA Heathrow, Gatwick or City flight between now and 12th August.

The full guidelines can be found on here.  However, the catering changes listed below have not been publicised.

I have summarised them here but you should read the full version if you are impacted:

If you choose to travel and not rebook your flight:

No hand baggage will be allowed onto aircraft except for ‘small personal items’, eg a purse.  Checked baggage weight allowances will not be increased to compensate.  This rule also applies to connecting passengers who start their trips outside Heathrow.

You can check in your baggage from 6pm the day before your flight

Only minimal catering will be offered on the shorter British Airways short-haul routes, either free (in Club Europe) or paid-for (in Euro Traveller)

The First Wing in Terminal 5 will be closed, as will all Fast Track security lane

Security queues will be substantially longer than usual

The catering information has been released to the travel trade but not to the public:

There will be minimal catering on the following routes (apologies for the use of airport codes):  ABZ, AMS, BHD, BLL, BRU, BSL, CDG, DUB, DUS, EDI, FRA, GLA, GVA, HAJ, HAM, INV, LBA, LUX, LYS, MAN, MPL, NCL, NTE, STR, TLS, TXL, ZRH

If you are in Club Europe you will receive a voucher to spend in the terminal and a muffin or flapjack on the aircraft

If you are in Euro Traveller you will be offered tea, coffee, water and a biscuit

For clarity, British Airways is not allowing you to cancel your flight.  

However, half of the 172 flights identified for cancellation are likely to be BA services.  BA knows which flights are on the list but will not inform passengers until the last minute in case the strike is called off on Sunday.

Further strikes are planned for 23rd / 24th August.

Comments (164)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • nick says:

    have a flight 10pm on tuesday 6th from LHR. with kids….

    Situation likely to be better late on Tuesday or worse?

    I could ask to change to 8am on Wed 7th – but how much better would that be? Surely not all to be smooth the next morning?

    • Nick says:

      Well the staff will no longer be striking… so security queues (the biggest bottleneck) can be processed at normal speed. Honestly, the ability of some people to interpret what they read 🤔

      • Nick says:

        so wed is just gonna a normal day with normal august loads? – No catch-up on previous days cancellations?

        Don’t try be a clever one….

        • Simon says:

          It’ll be busy, but you’ll have a fully staffed terminal and fully catered flight. And less risk of cancellation, albeit with some residual risk from aircraft being out of place. Up to you, but I seriously consider delaying if you can. If the strike is cancelled you can switch back. It might not pay off, but you’ll never know in advance.

  • Adam says:

    What happens if its a travel agent booking and you cant call them until Monday morning (which is after my flight). BA online wont let me change this booking as it want the travel agent code.
    I’m calling the Gold Line but not sure what to expect.

  • Andrew says:

    How do you get the list of cancelled flights?

    • Shoestring says:

      Flyertalk might be your best bet. I guess LHR might put a list out as well.

      Where can I find out if my flight will be affected?expanded
      As a passenger, your airline remains the best point of contact for finding out more information about potential effects on your journey, however, please be aware that the result of the current Unite ballot will not be announced until at least 2nd August.We recommend that passengers flying on all proposed strike dates contact their airline in the days leading up to their flight. We apologise for the uncertainty this is causing. This is a difficult time for passengers, our airline partners and Heathrow, and thank you for your patience.

    • Rob says:

      Looks like BA will publish it Sunday.

  • Shoestring says:

    Article says: [Checked baggage weight allowances will not be increased to compensate.]

    In reality, you’re not going to be asked to pay extra if you have (say) 23kg big bag to check in plus 10kg hand baggage that BA ask you to check in because of these measures. Online, BA just say hand baggage will need to be checked in but doesn’t say overall weight limit remains 23kg (eg European short haul Economy).

    ie don’t worry about the extra weight.

    • Shoestring says:

      but don’t stuff your 10kg hand luggage in with the 23kg bag, the single item weight limit will remain 23kg (Euro SH Econ)

  • Kipto says:

    Re hand luggage, It says on this site that small personal items eg a purse only will be allowed. Ba’s site says as long as it can fit under the seat in front of you it will be ok ?

    • Shoestring says:

      yep there’s obvs some small variance between what BA are publishing online and what they have sent to news outlets

      not sure you have a question but I guess the answer would be that when you normally rock up with a cabin bag plus maybe a laptop carrier or purse or bumbag – well, you’ll have to check in the bigger hand baggage but should be fine with the rest, it’s the usual BA rules about 2 items on board except don’t carry your money/ passport/ ticket in with the hand baggage as that’s going in the hold (or staying on the tarmac! 🙂 )

    • Rob says:

      BA uses the phrase ‘small personal item’ which is not a laptop bag.

      • Shoestring says:

        let’s stay real: BA will not be taking away your laptop case or large handbags/ manbags etc

        they are going to be removing & checking in larger cabin baggage/ rollers/ suit carriers etc

        • Rob says:

          You’re missing the point. The issue is NOT full planes. The issue is that there are no security staff. Laptops mean removing items from sleeves and putting them into separate trays. This is a critical time killer with, say, only 10% of security staff on duty.

          The problem is that many people, my wife included, are banned from checking in their work laptops.

          • Shoestring says:

            I get the point – but it would have been easy enough to say no laptops on board allowed, & that clearly hasn’t been said. Currently Heathrow’s advice for check in is to allow 2hrs for SH and 3hrs for LH security clearance, so it sounds like they think they’ll cope fine. Just checking in the cabin bags reduces the security trays total by (say) 30%.

          • marcw says:

            BA is not saying you are not allowed to take laptops or liquids. They just say the big carry on must be checked in (free of charge). A backpack fits under the seat, so that’s fine.

            I get your point with the laptop. But IME the big issue is usually… make-up, baby food and random checks (or some people trying to get through with a big Scotch bottle)

      • Lady London says:

        I always thought small personal item could be handbag or laptop bag.

        • marcw says:

          Even a small to medium size backpack… or any item that fits under the seat in front.

          • Shoestring says:

            but you’ll still be fine to use the overhead lockers 🙂

            that’s just a size guide

          • marcw says:

            -Shoestring. Yes, the issue is just security.

        • Fraser says:

          I guess it depends on the size of the laptop?!

          A first for me today at Madrid airport, the guy ahead of me took out a Playstation for screening 🙂

          I’m also in the “no checking of work laptops allowed” crowd so would basically assume it’s not safe to travel via LHR that day,

          • Shoestring says:

            laptops are fine as long as they meet the personal/ small item guidance here: [All customers are permitted to carry one piece of hand luggage and one small item (handbag, laptop) on board. Hand luggage must not exceed 56cm x 45cm x 25cm and the small item must be no bigger than 40cm x 30cm x 15cm. Both items can weight up to 23kg each.]

          • Mikeact says:

            What’s the difference between a work laptop and personal ?

          • Doug M says:

            The consequences to your employment when it’s stolen from checked baggage.

  • Shoestring says:

    Could get nasty!: Heathrow Airport strikes: 172 flights to and from the UK have been cancelled next week

  • Shoestring says:

    there’s still hope!

    Talks continue
    On Friday night, the airport and Unite were still in Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) negotiations to avert the strike action.

  • boi says:

    We had booked LBA to MSY (BA) then MSY to LAX with deta. If say we(actualy not me but hubby and 2 kids) ask BA to change our flight from heathrow (to new orleans) to one departing from gatwick (to las vegas) will travel insurance or BA reimburse our delta fights?

    • @mkcol says:

      BA won’t
      Phone your travel insurance to find out, nobody here knows your policy details.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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