It’s about 2 weeks away from Christmas and one of the busiest travel weeks of the year! There has been a lot of buzz coming out of my contacts that there is a very good chance the Virgin Atlantic pilots based in London will be going on strike from December 22 through 25, December 30 to January 2 and January 4 until 7th.
This is in order to create the maximum attention to their cause. Don’t let this catch you by surprise! It’s going to affect about 1/3 of the available pilots; there haven’t been any official announcements by Virgin Atlantic, but I would highly recommend making any changes to your flight now to save you time and trouble.
If you booked your flight on a credit card, you can check with the issuer to see if there is any type of travel insurance included in it. I like to use my Chase Sapphire Preferred, it allows for some minimal trip interruption insurance. If you bought travel insurance, check with the company that covers your trip now.
If you don’t have trip insurance, you have another option. I usually buy the second cheapest ticket and although it is usully expensive to pay the fee to change the ticket dates, it might be worth it in this case. When I worked as a gate agent, we were able to do same day change fees at the airport for $75 or $150 depending on the type of ticket. Check with Virgin what it may be.
Reward tickets were another issue. The passenger would have to call the reward line to change it You would think the gate agent could take care of it, but no. They were really strict about it. If you have a non-refundable ticket, all the airline and explain your concerns. They still might agree to change your ticket for a fee.
What happens if they won’t and you’re stuck on a cancelled or delayed flight? Odds are that you will be in a long line of angry people and rebooked on the next available flight to your final destination. Usually it’s on the same carrier, but depending on your destination they may rebook you through another airline. If you find out at the airport, it’s faster to call customer service to have them rebook you than wait for the gate agent.
From experience I can tell you that everybody wants to be on the next flight out and there usually aren’t many seats avail. The airline usually sends another plane if it’s a cancelled flight, but it could take hours. Honestly to save time and hassle, I recommended to some people to buy a new flight ticket to guarantee them on another airline if they were desperate to get home or to they destination in a hurry and couldn’t wait.
Be as patient and understanding as you can. The strike might not happen afterall, but at this point, I would encourage you to plan ahead and know what you want to do in case it happens. From the chatter I’ve heard, it’s not looking good. Until next time, happy travels.