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How to prepare for a possible strike by air traffic controllers

I am planning to travel to Paris this week on the day listed as a strike by air traffic controllers in France. For those of you who travel frequently or have experienced this before, is there any advice you can give me on how I can prepare for this? I would really appreciate any guidance on this situation.

Thanks so much!

Posted by
130 posts

If you're traveling from the US, you likely won't be impacted at all. Usually, the strikes only impact flights within Europe.

Usually.

Posted by
960 posts

I have faced this several times - different countries. Since we don't always have up-to-the-minute reporting in the US press, I try to follow the relevant foreign news releases. That can include social media. There isn't really much you can do in any case. Some planes may fly and you won't know if yours will go until announced. I just follow the course of events for my own info.

Check with your airlines. They probably can't give you any info until the it is clear that the controllers will strike. There are EU rules for reimbursement, re-routing, re-booking if your flight is cancelled.

If you pre-purchase a replacement, non-refundable ticket prior to knowing if yours is a "go" or not and then your plane flies, you will be out the cost of the second ticket.

Lots of fun. (not)

Posted by
960 posts

Adding - I have started researching alternative air routes on important journeys after having a two day delay due to an air carrier's technical issues last year. I generally have a back-up plan for rail disruptions also.

For me, this is nothing more than checking other possible air connections, train routes, bus options. I feel more pro-active if I have some sense of alternatives. I can weigh possible out of pocket costs and decide on my choice of action quickly if a strike impacts my plans.

I actually booked one of my back-up options last month as I was stranded at a smaller airport in Europe. I was standing looking at the "Cancelled" sign on the board and booked a train with the plan to taxi to the train station and continue on from there. As I was about to start to the taxi queue, buses were brought in to replace the cancelled plane. I could cancel the train ticket - no out of pocket for the "insurance" this time.

Posted by
9 posts

I also am scheduled to arrive that day in Paris. Airline states there’s nothing to do unless it’s cancelled. I’ve been looking at other flights but they are really full. Paid for premium economy so not sure what happens if unable to get if rebooked. Guess it’s a waiting game but so disappointing and stressful!!

Posted by
2062 posts

According to the air transport organization in France, the air traffic controllers' strike on Thursday April 25 will have an impact of 65% flight cancellations at Roissy CDG and 75% at Orly.

The French press announces a major strike.

Posted by
9899 posts

Yes, unfortunately this one looks bigger than most we have seen the last few years (air-traffic-control-wise).

Usually I would feel pretty safe telling you that transatlantic flights like between France and US or Canada are unlikely to be affected -- but I can't comfortably say that this time.

All you can do is keep your eyes open for notifications / info from your carrier.

Posted by
33 posts

I got this notice this morning from a news source called The Local:

" French air traffic controllers have called off a strike that was set to cause 'massive' disruption on Thursday, after reaching a last-minute deal with managers.
The SNCTA union had called a 24-hour strike on Thursday, April 25th in a dispute over changes to working patterns."

I sure hope this is true! Thanks to everyone for their help with this.

Posted by
159 posts

The only preparation is to be patient. Delays and cancellations are unique every time they occur. I’ve endured weather, mechanical, crew, ATC ad infinitum and you get through…..maybe not happily but is there any choice other than to cancel travel and await whatever is “normal” to return?

Posted by
10364 posts

It’s as Calvados said. Or, as my sister-in-law did this week: fly two days earlier. There was no charge for changing her ticket and she wasn’t going to wait to see if they would settle or strike.

Posted by
9899 posts

Cass, unfortunately, as usual, The Local isn't very precise in their "reporting."

Yes, today late morning, the SNCTA union, which has the biggest presence among French air traffic controllers, withdrew its strike notice for tomorrow.

However, that doesn't mean that everything will be back to normal tomorrow.

There are two main reasons for this:

First of all, the smaller unions have not withdrawn their strike notice.

Second, and most importantly, since the strike was already slated to start within 24 hours, the French civil aviation authority had already directed airlines to cancel huge percentages of flights. It is unclear how much elasticity there is in the system that would allow airlines to re-instate flights (with pilots, on-air personnel and ground crews) that they had planned to cancel due to the strike.

Things will be better tomorrow than might have otherwise been, but I don't know by how much.

Posted by
2062 posts

After the withdrawal of the SNCTA strike notice, and given that it is too late to reschedule the flights canceled by the companies, a notification was sent to the airlines:

75% of flights at Orly will be canceled

55% in Roissy CDG

65% in Marseille-Provence

And 45% in other airports

Posted by
33 posts

It's looking like the flight is on schedule! Thanks again, everyone, for your support.

Posted by
960 posts

Having "been there, done that" in the past, I'm very happy for you!! It's all very nerve wracking. Enjoy your trip!!

Posted by
9899 posts

Glad that your flight is on schedule. Hopefully everything else for your trip will go smoothly !

Posted by
7026 posts

I was at Heathrow this morning, and every single flight to Paris was canceled except for one that was scheduled to leave at 6:15 AM.

Unfortunately, my trip back to MSP on Delta was also canceled. I don’t know if it had anything to do with the strike or not, as Delta did not give me any information. Luckily I found a wonderful KLM gate agent who took it upon herself to rebook me on another Delta flight leaving later this afternoon. Unfortunately, I lost my comfort+ seat, but at least I’m in an aisle seat in a 2-seater section.

Posted by
9899 posts

Oh Mardee ! I am sorry to hear you had some juggling today. So glad they rebooked you and hope you will get home without too much extra pain (and without that special seat!).