Although British Airways (BA) is trying its luck with the UK courts to protect customers from cabin crew threatening to stage a 12-day strike (see news) from December 22, it has wasted no time in offering the public some alternatives.
An airline spokesperson told Business Traveller that BA is reworking flight schedules during the announced strike period and aims to announce them soonest.
Customers, who are booked to travel between December 22 and January 2, 2010 and for 48 hours on either side of those dates, and who would like to take their flight at a different time can change to another BA flight departing in the next 12 months at no charge.
If a customer’s flight is actually cancelled because of industrial action, BA will offer them the option to refund their ticket or rebook onto a different flight or reroute their journey on another BA flight or other carriers that is subject to availability.
The airline added that it was working with its One World Alliance partners to find available seats for passengers booked on long-haul flights over Christmas. Information will be sent to passengers by email or SMS text, and everyone is advised to update their contact details through www.ba.com
Earlier, BA wrote three times to the union Unite, pointing out irregularities in its strike ballot, but officials did not respond. So the airline started proceedings to get an injunction against the mass action.
Other carriers are responding to the looming crisis expected to affect thousands of travellers during the Christmas and New Year holidays.
Virgin Atlantic plans to deploy larger aircraft on key routes over the 12 days of the strike. It has identified a number of flights on routes such as New York (Newark), Boston, Washington and Delhi where it is feasible to operate the flights with more capacity.
These selected flights will now be operated by an Airbus A340-600, rather than an A340-300 which provides 68 extra seats per flight. The extra seats will go on sale over the next 24 hours.
Qantas expressed confidence that flights between Australia and the UK would operate as scheduled during the festive season, although David Epstein, group executive, government and corporate affairs, admitted, “the action does, however, have the potential to disrupt the travel plans of Qantas customers booked on BA services”.
He added: “We have determined we have sufficient capacity across the 12 days to accommodate Qantas ticketed passengers booked on BA code-share flights between Australia and the UK on existing Qantas services.”
The airline will provide alternative options for those booked on BA services into Europe out of London. These include allowing changes to bookings without penalty and, on some routes, opportunities to travel on other carriers.
Margie T Logarta