Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

HEATHROW STRIKE UPDATE: British Airways and Virgin Atlantic emergency measures

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

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.

  • Yorkieflyer says:

    Absolutely appalling behaviour by BA in not publishing the list of flights that will be cancelled until Sunday and refusing to allow customers to cancel either. How are we to plan our travel? It just shows the contempt they hold their passengers in

    • Shoestring says:

      there’s no list to publish at the moment

      sure, BA know which flights will get cancelled if the strike goes ahead but I suggest it is actually better for all concerned to wait until 5pm Sunday when the list goes firm as opposed to supposition/ likelihood right now

      for those of a nervous disposition – BA is already allowing SH passengers to switch flight dates/ times free of charge (and we can read into that the fact that most LH flights won’t be cancelled, which is normally the case anyway)

      I personally can’t see how BA can be faulted on the way they are dealing with somebody else’s possible strike

  • Combatjohnny says:

    I’m flying home from Kuwait on the 5th(BA to Heathrow), should I expect any issues

  • Dermot Kehoe says:

    What does this mean for flights returning INTO Heathrow? Will some of these be cancelled too?

    • Rob says:

      If the outbound doesn’t go, the inbound won’t be coming back ….

  • Alex says:

    I am not flying, i am just curious what the no hand luggage is for? I assume to speed up security but surely it can’t make that much of a difference? My whole cabin bag normally just goes through the x-ray and comes out – no hassle

    • Nick says:

      Yours might… because you’re smart and know the rules. Other people are (frankly) dim idiots who haven’t flown in the 10 years since the rules were last changed, which means lots of bags still need manual screening, which of course means more staff are required. Get people to check in bags and the risk of undeclared liquids (for example) decreases massively. Similarly the need for multiple trays decreases with fewer iPads, liquids, etc., which means throughput per security lane can be increased – essential when there aren’t enough staff to man all the lanes. We already know for example that all fast track lanes will be closed.

      • Mike says:

        I get it and it makes sense. And yet checking in bags also needs tonnes of staff to get bags hauled into (and out of) planes. Not sure what the worse prospect is: long queues at security, possibly delaying flights, or bags taking forever to be loaded and offloaded, also delaying flights.

  • The Jetset Boyz says:

    Air New Zealand services into and out of London Heathrow are scheduled to operate as normal. They’re offering customers booking flexibility should they wish to avoid travelling on the proposed strike days.

    • Nick says:

      I imagine all airlines with only one flight per day will be absolutely fine. It’s those with multiples that will bear the brunt of changes.

  • Roy says:

    O/T: Amex have different MR conversion rates with their partners in different countries. With the pound so low, there is obviously a risk that the conversion rates to MR redemption partners will have to made less attractive. In extremis, if we reach pound-dollar parity, there’s no real reason to expect that GBP MR will continue to have more favourable conversion rates than USD MR.

    My question is, does Amex generally give notice of such devaluations, or (assuming we have a good idea as to where we want to use our MR points) are we better off converting preemptively?

    • Roy says:

      I have to admit, though, I have no idea *why* the pound might be so weak. My personal theory is that the markets regard the increase in Plat card annual fee, plus the removal of PP restaurant benefits just makes the UK a less attractive place to do business 🙂

  • Shoestring says:

    well, I’ll put my ‘chancer’ neck on the line and guess that there won’t actually be a strike on Monday! all will probably be sorted, though unless they agree this before about 5pm tomorrow there will still be a lot of disruption, there’s unfortunately a critical time after which the airlines will start sending out flight cancellation notices

    come on people – focus on the middle ground – that’s where it will end up anyway so might as well get there earlier rather than later

  • Shoestring says:

    & the good news is: in Euro Traveller (or HBO), free tea/ coffee and biscuits make a comeback! 🙂

    there must be some people hoping the strike goes ahead now I’ve told you that

    • Marcw says:

      Oh no! Please BoB! Much better – more choices ! It seems Lufty will be next to implement it!

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

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.