Busiest winter day so far at many UK airports coincides with Eight days of industrial action for UK Border Force staff exist Heathrow Airport, Gatwick AirportManchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and Cardiff airports.
Members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, which usually checks passports, will go on strike from December 23 until the end of the year, except on December 27. british border force Staff will also go on strike at the Port of Newhaven in East Sussex on the same day.
During the grounding, nearly 2 million passengers were booked to fly to the affected airports. Will their festive flights be disrupted? What do airports and airlines say?
These are the key questions and answers.
What is the strike for?
According to PCS, “salaries, pensions, jobs”. General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Like many workers, our members are struggling with a cost of living crisis. They are desperate.
“They were told there was no money for them, while they watched ministers hand out government contracts worth billions of pounds to their partners.”
Home Secretary, Suella Bravermansaid: “It is very regrettable that they have taken the decision to go on strike at a critical time after Christmas and New Years.
When did the strike begin and end?
The union put it simply: “Passport control PCS members employed by the Home Office will be at London Heathrow, London Gatwick on 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th, 28th, 29th and 30th December Airport, Manchester Airport, Birmingham Airport, Cardiff Airport and Glasgow Airport, and 31.”
In fact, the strike is a little more subtle. independent Border Force staff are understood to be on strike for three days from December 23 to 25, with officers usually signed in for the night shift meaning the strike will affect Boxing Day at 7am. The action, repeated for three days, December 28-30, will affect New Year’s Eve at 7am.
What will be the impact?
Passengers of Britain’s largest low-cost airline, easyjetBe warned: “We have been advised that queues at passport control could exceed two hours for all passengers arriving in the UK at Gatwick, Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester airports.”
The Home Office said: “Those entering the UK should prepare for potential disruption.”
The Home Secretary warned: “It cannot be denied that this will wreak havoc on the thousands of people who have holiday plans.
“Ultimately I’m not willing to compromise on border security, which is the number one priority.
“It’s likely to have a detrimental effect on the convenience of people, and frankly, whether it’s the time they have to wait for a flight or the time it takes to depart, they’re likely to be delayed on arrival and on various travel plans.”
Ms Braverman also called on travelers to re-evaluate their journeys, saying: “I really want to urge those who have plans to travel abroad to think carefully about their plans because there is a good chance they will be affected.”
What could go wrong?
In the nightmare scenario, passport control could create long queues, causing passengers to be stranded on planes rather than disembarking, and adding to crowds on arrival.
Planes usually turn around and take off between 30 minutes and two hours after arrival. If inbound passengers are still on board, outbound passengers will not be able to board the plane. Crowds will congregate in departure areas and airports may congest gates for arriving flights – which could lead to cancellations and diversions.
What emergency measures are there?
The Home Office, which manages the UK Border Force, said: “Military personnel, civil servants and volunteers from across the government are being trained to support Border Force at airports and ports across the UK in the event of potential strike action.
“Border Force is ready to deploy resources to meet critical needs and support travelers in transit.”
Deployment of soldiers and women under the Military Assistance to Civilian Authorities (Maca) policy. It applies to situations where “action is genuinely required”, where “other options” are discounted, and where “the urgency of the task requires prompt external support”.
Airports are working with some airlines to limit arrival stress.For example, a flight to London Heathrow british airways No longer on sale, will arrive December 23-25 and 28-30. But other airlines are continuing to sell flights, with Emirates offering seats on all six flights from Dubai to Heathrow on December 23, as well as flights to Gatwick, Birmingham and Glasgow, but not Offers flights to Manchester.
Will eGates work?
Yes. These gates check passengers’ facial biometrics against encrypted data in passports. They are open to UK citizens or citizens of the EU (and wider Schengen area), US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore or South Korea aged 12 or over.
Some people find that they can pass eGates without problems, while others say they often have problems. Travelers should remove hats, earphones and masks to minimize delays.
What is the airport saying?
“The vast majority of trips will not be affected [but] Passengers arriving at Heathrow on strike days who are not eligible to use eGates may face longer waits at border control. “
“We expect flights to operate as usual during this period. Passport checks may take longer than usual.”
“We will continue to operate on our full flight schedule. Passengers do not need to change travel plans unless the airline advises otherwise. Wait times at borders may sometimes be longer than usual on these days and we will provide all possible support to ensure the smoothest possible return for passengers to Manchester.”
“Flights will operate as scheduled.” Arriving passengers should “expect to wait slightly longer than usual during peak hours,” the airport said.
“There is no indication that the planned industrial action will have any significant impact on our operations. Glasgow Airport will also be adding additional support staff on the proposed strike days to ensure any disruption is kept to an absolute minimum.”
“All departing flights will not be affected. Some arriving passengers may experience slightly longer waits at passport control.”
Will travelers from other UK airports, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man be affected?
Can’t. These locations are within the passport-free Common Travel Area.
I was booked to fly on a strike day and I’d rather not take the risk. What are my options?
Most airlines and holiday companies say normal cancellation conditions apply, but the UK’s two largest airlines are offering flexibility to passengers booked to fly to target airports on the main strike day.
“Passengers traveling on/between 23-25 December and 28-30 December with final destination in London, or who have booked a connecting ticket as part of a flight to another airport in the UK or Ireland, Can change their travel dates and rebook on a British Airways operated flight up to 14 days earlier or later than their original travel date, as the case may be.
“Customers wishing to do so should contact us on 0344 493 0787.
“Customers booking through a travel agent should contact their agent directly to discuss options.”
“Our team will be happy to offer you some alternative options, such as changing your flight date for free up to 14 days before or after the strike date, or providing a flight voucher for your booking.” To take advantage of these options, call 0330 551 5151 Contact EasyJet Customer Service Center.