Planning to Fly from London During the British Airways Flight Attendant Strike

I have a British Airways flight coming up during the impending British Airways flight attendant strike.

So here’s my thinking. British Airways says their full (very small) operation at London City Airport will proceed unaffected, that all their long-haul flights at Gatwick (far fewer than at Heathrow) will operate, and that they will operate ‘many’ long-haul flights at Heathrow.

I’m supposed to fly from Heathrow. But I’ve got a good shot of making the flight out. Here’s why: I’m on a route with two flights a day, I’m flying the (1) later afternoon flight (2) operated by the larger aircraft. So I figure they’d tend to want to operate the larger aircraft and all other things equal the later flight would be easier to operate. And in fact, in the first days of the planned strike the flight is scheduled to go.

But I’m also no fool. I want to fly my originally scheduled flight, for one thing I’ve never flown British Airways First Class (never better than Club World). And I want to fly even though they’re planning a diminished service — no hot meals — because their stand-in flight attendants won’t have had the health/sanitation training for hot meal service. But it’s still easier to take this flight than not.

And as the strike becomes more and more real, transatlantic inventory ex-London becomes tighter and tighter.

So I want my backup plans in place sooner rather than later, I can’t wait until the day of flight to see for sure whether my flight will go. But I don’t want to tie up cash either. It’s a great example where frequent flyer miles are a lovely thing to have.

Both United and American offer one-way awards, and last seat availability for a mileage premium. So I grabbed an award ticket for double the miles — I believe the first time in my life that I’ve done so — and I’ll hope I don’t have to use it. If my British Airways flight goes, I’ll take it and I’ll cancel the award and redeposit the miles. If my BA flight cancels, I’m protected.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. When you check-in for the BA flight, change your FF # (from AA or whatever it is you used to book the award ticket) to your BA number. I flew BA first during the strike (which didn’t end up hapening) over the holidays and got a 25k mile present for the inconvenience…even though it was an award ticket.

  2. I’m flying to LHR during the strike as well – after BA’s fiasco at Christmas & knowing they were likely to strike again around Easter I booked myself on Virgin instead – I simply don’t trust BA any more.

    It’s interesting I fly out of SFO – most days here they run 2 flights per day to LHR – during the strike they’ve cut it to one per day with limited onboard service …

  3. WOW! And you’re going to pay how much to redeposit the second award if the original ‘goes?’ I prolly wouldn’t have done that! And you’re going to know that option 1 is cxlg in time to make your backup plan work when…???

    (FWIW, my strike experience is that the 1st trip operates and the 2nd cxls regardless of equip… cos limited staff will be available early and ‘used up’ later in the day. Anyway…).

    Well, I think you’re missing an oppty. Let BA cxl – book you on another carrier (in paid inventory, even if on another Aliance), then soak up those miles for this years status. That’s what you call tvl4free – and status4free. And kinna what this site and FT is all about…???

    Of course, ymmv!

  4. That UA backup could be a costly option, for anyone less than a 1K. Granted, insurance is insurance and we pay it knowing we lose it all AFTER the event HASN’T occurred.

  5. It’s a ‘costly’ option to have a backup, a non-1K would pay $150 to redeposit, but that would be much worth it to me.

    As for letting BA get me back to the US, well, that’s great but I don’t expect that to be easy/quick and while I’d appreciate the hotel they’d likely put me in I rather *need* to be back when I’m scheduled to be back…

  6. If you do use the double miles option as a back up emergency
    I will hire you a trauma specialist,physotherapist and a good stock of Antidepressants.I know its not in your DNA to lose miles on an award flight like that 🙂
    have a great trip hopefully on your original booking!

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