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Air Traffic Control Strikes Will Impact European Flights. So, Do This Before You Travel

The summer of air travel chaos continues in Europe with looming strikes from air traffic control staff.

Airline and airport workers across the globe have a common denominator: their staff are demanding better working conditions and pay. This has resulted in numerous strikes and protests, leaving many airports and airlines struggling to meet staffing needs. European air traffic control workers are adamantly working towards better conditions with plans to strike over the summer. 

According to The Times, strikes from the workers and organizers of Eurocontrol (the European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation) could affect one in three flights. That’s roughly around 12,600 flights per day expected to be interrupted. Between July and August, it’s estimated that Eurocontrol will handle over 30,000 flights daily. The looming air traffic control strikes are in addition to the ongoing strikes from pilots and other airline staff. Currently, Eurocontrol operation centers oversee 10 million flights a year, ensuring that planes can safely navigate European air space. At this time, there are no hard dates set in place for strikes. But, Union Syndicale Bruxelles, one of Eurocontrol’s trade unions, has warned in a statement that industrial action could take place” over the next six months.

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Know Your Rights as a Passenger 

Flight disruptions can include both delayed flights and canceled flights. There may also be increases in wait times for security, ticketing assistance, or baggage counters as airline staff work hard to provide up-to-date information to affected passengers. To circumvent chaos, some airlines have resorted to preemptively canceling flights. One such airline, British carrier, easyJet has canceled 2% of their flights for July and August ahead of the potential madness, affecting 180,000 travelers utilizing Gatwick Airport in London. Other airlines like British Airways and Ryanair have reported canceling flights earlier in the summer due to strikes from air traffic control centers in France. With other industry complications like weather-related delays, mechanical issues, and technical mishaps, it is shaping up to be a summer of airport chaos for travelers.

It is always recommended to purchase travel insurance, especially for international travel. Companies like Faye offer whole trip coverage based on your individual needs. It allows you to pay for what you need in a travel insurance policy rather than purchasing a standard policy with a cookie-cutter coverage approach. Another bonus is that when you have flight disruptions, Faye pays out immediately. 

Another great asset in European travel is AirHelp, a passenger rights advocate. Although typically governed by the same federal laws, every airline has its own rules and regulations regarding compensation for flight disruptions. Passengers usually wonder: When are you eligible for meal vouchers? Who pays for missed events and excursions due to canceled flights? How many hours are included in a flight disruption before payment is received? What are your passenger rights if you are traveling without insurance? With a network of lawyers representing dozens of countries, AirHelp can assist with answering any of these questions for all types of flight disruptions, including those related to strikes. According to their website, currently passengers affected by airline strikes are entitled to compensation of up to $700. Passengers can enter their flight information into the eligibility checker to verify potential benefits. 

If you plan on traveling to Europe in the coming months, you can monitor your flight status through your airline’s mobile app or website Flight Aware. Additionally, sign up for both e-mail and text notifications. You can also use tools like social media to see in-real time events happening at any airport you may be utilizing during your travels. Both Twitter and TikTok are great sources of up-to-date information from both airlines and fellow travelers.