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Travelers warned of delays as Border Force strikes get underway

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

Hundreds of thousands of air passengers face disruption over the next week or so as Border Force staff begin strike action.

Travellers arriving in the UK are experiencing delays coming through passport control, with warnings queues will get longer as the day goes on.

The industrial action will impact passengers arriving at Heathrow, Gatwick, Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester and Glasgow airports, and also ferry passengers arriving at Newhaven.

The strikes involve border control staff who check passports and will take place from today until 26 December, and again from 28 to 31 December.

The action has been organised by the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union, which is seeking a 10% pay rise, fair pensions, job security and no cuts to redundancy terms.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka blamed the delays on the government, saying the Prime Minister and Chancellor have refused to increase a 2% pay offer.

He said: “We’ve been given the lowest pay rise across the economy – 2%. Inflation is at 11%.  At a time when the government knows the people it employs, 40,000 of them are using foodbanks, 45,000 of them are claiming in-work benefits because they are in the in-work poor.

“The government have known for months they have to do something about this crisis but have refused to negotiate, refused to put a penny on the table and have given us no option than to take industrial action.”

Hundreds of armed forces personnel are providing support at airports during the strikes.

Your rights if your flight is cancelled or delayed

If your flight is cancelled, you have the right to either a full refund, or a replacement flight. The replacement flight can be with another airline, or you could be booked on to a different form of transport if applicable.

Guy Hobbs, editor of Which? Travel, said: “If your flight is cancelled or delayed as a result of strike action by border force staff, you are unlikely to be eligible for compensation as these events are considered outside of the airline’s control. However, your airline still has a duty of care to you – and if your flight is cancelled you have a right to a refund or to be re-routed as soon as possible, even if that means flying with a rival carrier.

“If you are significantly delayed, usually by two hours or more, your airline should provide assistance including free meals or refreshments, or overnight accommodation if required. If your flight is delayed by more than five hours, you have the same rights as if you had suffered a cancellation, and can request a refund or rebooking.”