Air France Strike

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Jun 14th, 2018, 04:37 AM
  #1
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Air France Strike

We're scheduled to fly from Paris to Dulles on Sunday, June 24th on Air France. AF just announced its intention to strike 6/23-6/26. What does that mean to us in practical terms? ( The news articles suggest arranging to fly back earlier, but we'll be on a cruise, so that won't work.)
1. Does a strike seem for certain?
2. If they are striking, do we still go to the airport? Will anyone from AF be there?
3. If they are striking, does our ticket just go away and we have to rebook anew? Will they rebook us?
4. Is there anything I should do in advance? Try to move to a Delta/AF flight? Book a hotel in Paris just in case?

I'm trying to focus on the bright side- there are worse places to get stranded than Paris! TIA.
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Jun 14th, 2018, 06:03 AM
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You have a great attitude!
This happened to us in 2014, and we spent many anxious hours in our VRBO apartment trying to arrange alternate transportation. The frustrating thing, is that the airlines won't technically cancel your flights until 24 hours before, even though the strike is fairly certain to happen. On our inter-Europe flight from Paris to Florence, we ended up taking the train (last minute fare of over $400 for two), and then when it was time to depart Venice on our transatlantic flight, nobody would help us via internet or phone, so we just arrived at the airport several hours early. The Air France rep ended up rerouting us through a different airline, better seat assignments, and we ended up at home an hour earlier than our original flight time.

I tried to file a claim to recover my train fare, and got ignored for several months. Finally, I posted on the Air France Facebook page, and got immediate response, via private message. Air France ended up reimbursing me with a check for the train fare (keep all receipts), and - get this - two $1100 vouchers for our trouble. So...back we went the following year!

Hope you have good luck as well, try not to stress! Like you said, there's worse places to be stranded than Paris!
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Jun 14th, 2018, 06:04 AM
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We were in France when SF had a strike about 4 years ago. We called the AF office in NYC and they booked us a flight home 3 days later on United. As I recall, it was futile to try to work with AF offices in Paris or using their on-line site.



We are headed out to France on United this morning. We don't fly AF any more because of their constant strikes and poor customer service when they strike.


Stu Dudley
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Jun 14th, 2018, 06:59 AM
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Here's the deal: the union has declared potential strikes for those dates, and they will selectively strike perhaps 50% of their over-the-pond flights.

The good news for you is that there are three nonstop CDG-IAD flights that day, two on Air France and one on United... so there's a 50% chance your flight will be one of the ones to be cancelled.

If your flight is cancelled due to a strike, there are any number of ways that AirFrance can get to Dulles. They can put you on the United flight, if there's still space, or they can route you through Amsterdam, London, Boston, New York, etc. Or you can even spend an extra day or two in Paris.

There's a company called Cranky Concierge that will monitor your flights ($10 per traveler, but well worth it if only to get someone else to do the worrying for you). Here's how they describe their services on their website:

Monitoring

Think of us as your air travel guardian. We'll keep an eye on your flights so you don't have to worry about them. If anything looks like it won't run as planned, we'll let you know.
  • Watch your flight for delays as they develop (or hopefully don't)
  • Send you a day of travel email with weather, delay info, and other advice
  • Weather monitoring to look for potential delays
  • Watch for FAA airport status changes for airport-specific delays
  • Track your airplane earlier in the day to make sure it's running on time
  • Prepare alternate flight options before there's even a problem, just in case you need it
  • Inform loved ones and/or colleagues about your flight status
Delay & Cancellation Assistance

If you do run into delays, cancellations, or misconnections, we'll be on the case. We'll have potential alternatives ready to go faster than you can scream at an undeserving gate agent.
  • Research available alternative flight options
  • Search for options in nearby cities/airports
  • Put together connections in unlikely places to get you where you're going (even Omaha)
  • Check car rental rates and availability at your alternate airport
  • Look for ground transport alternatives if we can't find a flight
  • Find hotels and restaurants for stranded travelers if all else fails
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Jun 14th, 2018, 07:03 AM
  #5
 
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AF didn't announce their intention to strike, it is the employees' unions that strike, not AF. Air France and its leadership is who they are striking against.

You probably can't just move to a Delta flight, there may not be any. I don't think there are any Delta flights to Dulles from Paris, at least not nonstop. If you are willing to fly to NY first or something, maybe.

There are KLM flights to AMS and then IAD, though. I don't like KLM's aircraft myself, but those probably aren't affected but I wouldn't bet you can just do that easily, but you could see if you can.
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Jun 14th, 2018, 07:52 AM
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I kinda doubt AF is going to put you on a flight on an airline out of its alliance, e.g., United. much less even In its alliance.
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Jun 14th, 2018, 07:56 AM
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Each of these incidences seem to present different scenarios. There has been no one fixed outcome. Here are my experience on this and previous strikes.

>>> 1. Does a strike seem for certain?
No one knows for sure. Trying to find certainty before they announce cancellation would not be productive. It is more productive to think about options.

>>> 2. If they are striking, do we still go to the airport? Will anyone from AF be there?
There are pros and cons. On con side, the airport staff would be overwhelmed and you would not get attention. As mentioned above, the usual connection channel people who get stranded at the departure airport would be jammed. You would get better response by contacting AF office not likely to be overwhelmed, like the US number. On the pro side, if there happens to be seats available on other flights leaving earlier, if you are at the airport you can take these. I was in phone call on the way to the airport to find out if there was any merit in getting to the airport at all.

>>> 3. If they are striking, does our ticket just go away and we have to rebook anew? Will they rebook us?
You ticket is "valid" for alternate flight within ad hoc rescheduling period stated on same class and same route by whoever was the marketing carrier. This does not mean you will get same class seats. Sometimes a lower level or higher if you are lucky. It is up to the carrier. Was it AF or Delta or KLM, etc.? If you bought AF flight as a Delta marketed ticket, Delta has more options to get you home. In my experience, the marketing carrier (not the operating carrier) would try to use their plane as much as possible, then the codeshares. They would rebook you, but... I suspect there is a pecking order to accommodate their most valuable customers first. Time is of the essence. I got better results by jumping on phone as soon as I knew the flight was cancelled to get best alternate flight possible. Once they arranged an alternate flight, they usually don't budge stating no seats. There was no way to find out if that was just an excuse or reality. They seem to assign the worst possible seat on alternate flight, but getting to the gate early enough, I usually have gotten much better alternate seats than what they originally assigned to me.

>>>4. Is there anything I should do in advance? Try to move to a Delta/AF flight? Book a hotel in Paris just in case?
If you are in Europe, the carrier is responsible for booking a hotel if you have to overnight. It is an airport hotel of their choice, not yours. An attempt to change flight without AF (or whoever is the marketing carrier) involvement before actual cancel announcement would incur hefty fee. Previously, by calling AF, I found out they would rebook or totally refund flights scheduled on forecasted, but not yet decided, strike day. What you can do in advance is to call AF (or the marketing carrier) directly and rebook any other things, especially the ones not involving cancel charge or opportunity cost, that hinge on AF flight operating on schedule. Booking return flight on the day people need to travel from far to get to the airport would limit options. You have more options if you are already in Paris a day before. Most of my alternate flights required leaving hours earlier than the originally flight.
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Jun 14th, 2018, 08:06 AM
  #8
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Thank you, everyone! So our cruise docks on the 24th in Bourdeaux in the morning. We have train tickets to Paris so we could catch our 4:20 pm flight, which is indeed Air France.

It sounds like I'll need to watch on the 23rd to see if the flight is canceled. If so, immediately call the US Air France office.

If anyone has other advice, would love to hear it. In the meantime, I'll start reframing this as a possible "bonus" vacation...
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Jun 14th, 2018, 08:30 AM
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>>>It sounds like I'll need to watch on the 23rd to see if the flight is canceled. If so, immediately call the US Air France office.<<<


When we called the AF offfice in France, we were on wait for hours over about 2-3 days and gave up. Eventually, AF answered with "we have too many calls right now - call back later" - and then they hung up. Then I got the idea to call the AF office in NYC & they got us home - on United.

>>I kinda doubt AF is going to put you on a flight on an airline out of its alliance, e.g., United. much less even In its alliance.<<


That's exactly what AF did with us - United.


Stu Dudley
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Jun 14th, 2018, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by StuDudley View Post
>>>It sounds like I'll need to watch on the 23rd to see if the flight is canceled. If so, immediately call the US Air France office.<<<


When we called the AF offfice in France, we were on wait for hours over about 2-3 days and gave up. Eventually, AF answered with "we have too many calls right now - call back later" - and then they hung up. Then I got the idea to call the AF office in NYC & they got us home - on United.


Do you remember how you found the NY office number? The Website only has the 1-800 number, and if I Google AF and New York office, it only gives me the ticket desk at JFK.
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Jun 14th, 2018, 09:11 AM
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I think the AF number was on the ticket or other notifications we received when we made the reservations.


We leave for France on United today. Taxi will pick us up in 1 hour.


Stu Dudley
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Jun 14th, 2018, 10:44 AM
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I always prefer Air France for the quality of its service and its meals. The staff is always helpful and always finds a solution when there are problems. If you are present at the airport and have not been informed of a cancellation, they will usually put you on the next available flight on any airline serving your destination.

EU rules for compensation if you cannot be flown out are quite generous and should be taken advantage of.

Frankly, I am always a bit perplexed to see "rich" tourists taking luxury vacations worrying about such details. I just sent a considerable contribution to the Aquarius, the refugee support ship in the Mediterranean, to help face some of their problems. Everything else seems trivial to me at the moment.
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Jun 14th, 2018, 11:29 AM
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Stu Dudley, you forgot the "and we were lucky" part and you know it, too
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Jun 14th, 2018, 11:35 AM
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Have you tried these numbers in France?

Customer service: 0 892 70 26 54
Technical support: 09 69 39 02 15
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Jun 14th, 2018, 12:19 PM
  #15
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Well, yes, I'd hazard that 90% of the questions in this forum are, quite literally, first world problems. A member in my party has anxiety but copes well with more information about options. Thank you again!
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Jun 14th, 2018, 11:10 PM
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KLM is half the size of Air France, yet accounts for 2/3 of the profits of the combined company. Yet the AF pilots strike for a 10% raise on top of their 200.000 euro salary, because they count on the French government to bail them out.
We stopped flying AF after an appaling treatment of my elderly mother who was flying intercontinental on a long flight.

Sorry Butteredtoast, that really doesn't help you, I know. Good luck, they may yet cancel the strike!
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