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Passengers Warned That Border Force Strike Cancellations Won’t Entitle Them to Compensation But Regulators Put Airlines On Notice to Look After Customers

Passengers Warned That Border Force Strike Cancellations Won’t Entitle Them to Compensation But Regulators Put Airlines On Notice to Look After Customers

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has warned passengers caught up in potential disruption caused by a wave of strike action by Border Force officers at six airports across the United Kingdom that they will not be entitled to compensation if their flight is cancelled or badly delayed.

As the strikes are outside the control of the airlines, the CAA’s consumer director Paul Smith said on Tuesday it is unlikely that airlines would be held responsible under the European Union’s denied boarding regulations.


Airlines are likely to label the Border Force walkouts an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ that exempts them from paying out compensation of up to €600 per passenger. Consumers have the right to appeal denied compensation clams but Smith suggested that the courts would find in favour of the airlines.

But while passengers won’t be able to claim compensation for delayed or cancelled flights, Smith urged airlines to respect their ‘obligation’ to look after passengers by providing food and drink and hotel accommodation in certain circumstances.

Border Force officers are set to stage eight days of strike action over the Christmas and New Year period in an increasingly bitter dispute with the government over pay, benefits and job security.

The PCS union which represents Border Force workers says angry passengers who are caught up in the disruption should “blame the government” and not its ‘undervalued’ members who are taking strike action as a “last resort”.

If an agreement can’t be reached, Border Force will be hit by strike action from 24th December to 26th December and then from 28th December to 31st December.

There is concern that the strikes could cause widespread disruption, but Heathrow Airport says it is confident that airlines will be able to run a full schedule and most passengers should be able to travel as planned.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has, however, warned passengers to reconsider their travel plans because of the possibility of travel chaos.

“We anticipate UK Border Force strikes may lead to longer queues and wait times than normal when arriving at the UK border, as well as possible flight disruption,” the CAA’s Paul Smith warned.

“In the event of delays and cancellations, airlines have an obligation to look after their passengers,” Smith continued. “We expect airlines to do what they can to minimise the overall disruption to passengers, and this includes proactively providing passengers with updates and information about their rights when flights are disrupted.”

The government has called in the army to take on Border Force jobs during the strike period at Birmingham Airport, Cardiff Airport, Gatwick Airport, Glasgow Airport, Heathrow Airport, Manchester Airport, as well as the Port of Newhaven.

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