Everything You Need to Know About the European Travel Strikes
The labor movement can't be stopped, but your plans might be.
A little anecdote: one time, I was trying to leave Florence, Italy to get to Athens, Greece. In an ideal world, this would be a quick flight. On December 18, 2014, it became a 24-hour ordeal. My error, you see, is that I planned my travel on the day of an Italian transit worker strike. So, trying to take a train to Rome to catch my flight became a very difficult and costly process. And then I still missed my flight. One day, one layover in Istanbul, and $500 later, I finally walked into the doors of my $11-a-night hostel. I don't begrudge the Italian workers. I'm a Workers of the World Unite kind of girly.
But if I could advise 2014 me of one thing I'd tell her this: Don't try to do anything ambitious on strike days. Right now, the big travel strikes in Europe aren't limited to Italy. The biggest recent strikes have happened in France and the United Kingdom, and these actions are expected to continue. Many of these strikes are planned by transit and aviation workers and will happen on specific days, USA Today previously noted.
In May, there will be travel strikes across the continent, according to Euronews. In Italy, a 24-hour tram, bus, and train strike will take place on May 26. Protests in France are expected to be ongoing ahead of the French Parliament's National Assembly on June 8. Air traffic controllers in France have been striking on a regular basis, and will continue to do so until June 1.
In the UK, London Heathrow's security staff will be on strike between May 25 and 26, primarily in Terminal 5. This will primarily affect British Airways flights. In Spain, the Spanish Airline's Pilot Union are calling for a pilot's strike at Air Europa. Walkouts are expected between May 22 and 26, May 29 and 30, and June 1 and 2.
The US State Department advises that you can stay up to date on the status of strikes and other potential travel issues during your travels by enrolling in the Smart Traveller Enrollment Program. If your flight is canceled due to a strike, you should be eligible for reimbursement. However there are a few instances when the airline could classify the cancellation as "extraordinary circumstances."
In addition to enrolling in STEP, you can also check local English language news outlets of the destination you are traveling to, for the most up-to-date news about strikes that could impact your trip.
Hopefully, all these workers will be able to secure safe, stable, fairly compensated working conditions. That way, travelers can enjoy their vacations, and workers can enjoy an equitable work environment.
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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.