The British Airways strike next month is to cause at least five consecutive days of flight cancellations.
BA pilots announced three days of strikes – taking place on 9, 10 and 27 September – in a dispute over pay.
Despite the first strikes being on 9 and 10 September, some customers flying between the 8th and 12th have been told their flight has been cancelled – and to rebook or get a refund.
One customer told the BBC their flight on 25 September had been cancelled.
Many people have said they have been unable to get through to BA to make alternative arrangements.
BA says it carries 145,000 customers every day – with a fleet of more than 280 aircraft – and a BA plane takes off from somewhere in the world every 90 seconds.
BA said in a statement: “We are doing absolutely everything we can to prevent this unfair action from taking place and ruining our customers’ travel plans.
“Airlines have a very complex operation and during times of widespread disruption, there can be knock-on effects onto flights on other days.”
Customers have reported receiving emails late on Friday night and in the early hours of Saturday morning informing them their flight had been cancelled.
Many have taken to social media to complain that they have been unable to rebook via the website or get through on BA’s phone lines.
Abby Deem, 32, from Cambridge said her honeymoon plans had been “ruined” after her business class flight to Mauritius on 9 September was cancelled.
“We’ve been looking forward to this flight for a year,” she said.
“Neither of us have ever had the luxury to travel business class, and after the wedding it seemed the perfect way to start our honeymoon.”
She said she felt sick when her fiance Jonathan got a text to say the flight had been cancelled.
They have now booked economy flights with Emirates and they estimate it will cost them an extra £500.
Jennifer Bond, from Manchester, was due to fly to Las Vegas with her fiance Simon to get married but their flights to and from Las Vegas (11 and 25 September) have been cancelled.
She said: “Nearly two years of saving up and budgeting relentlessly and this happens three weeks before we fly.”
It was “impossible” to get through to BA on the phone, she added, so they have booked new flights with Virgin – costing £700 more than their original flights.
“We’re now out of pocket and the time to process a refund is four weeks,” she said. “It’s disgraceful.”
Another customer, Anna Redding, was scheduled to fly to Nairobi with her partner for their honeymoon on 11 September and return on 27 September – when the final strike is scheduled to take place.
They received an email saying their outward flight had been cancelled, and their return flight had been delayed.
She said they had also saved up to upgrade to first class flights as it was a “once in a lifetime” holiday.
They have been unable to get through to BA on the phone and she said the advice is unclear, adding: “Do we try to get another flight with someone else but lose the first class or do we wait just in case but risk not getting any other flights?”
The company’s Twitter feed was inundated with messages from frustrated customers, with some saying their cancelled flights were still on sale.
In response to one customer, BA said some flights before and after the strike were “still subject to disruption due to operational reasons, including crew rostering and positioning of aircraft”.
Travel expert Simon Calder explained it had turned into five successive days of cancellations because BA would not send a flight to, for example, Hong Kong, if a pilot was going to go on strike the next day.
He also said BA has to find customers “an alternative flight on the same day if it possibly can, even if it means buying you a ticket on another airline”.
If you are delayed overnight, he said BA has to pay for a hotel and meals.
He added: “The worst thing you can do is take a full refund because then you will be buying another ticket yourself and that could well cost more.”
The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) said on Friday the strikes were a “last resort” born out of “enormous frustration” with airline management.
Pilots have rejected a pay increase worth 11.5% over three years, which the airline put forward in July.
What can I claim if my flight has been affected by the strikes?
If your flight has been cancelled because airline staff are striking, the the Civil Aviation Authority said, then this would be considered within the airline’s control, and therefore you have a legal right to either:
- A full refund, and this includes flights in the same journey that might be from a different airline (for example, an onward or return flight)
- A replacement flight to get to your destination
- Or, if you are part way through your journey and don’t want a replacement flight, you are entitled to a flight back to the airport you originally departed from
In some cases, passengers may be entitled to additional cash compensation for the inconvenience – but only if you receive notice that your flight is affected less than 14 days before departure.
Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:
It is a warm summer’s day in Hanwell, west London, and Abdel Rrahim and his family are feeling the heat more than most.
That is because Abdel, his wife, and their seven-month-old son live in a metal shipping container, converted by the council. “It’s very hot,” he says. “It’s like fire.”
They are among 34 families living in their estate of metal boxes on the former site of a 1970s garage block.
A new report by the the Children’s Commissioner for England has found these containers are an increasingly popular way for some councils to provide emergency housing.
At a cost of about £35,000 each, it found the containers were a cheaper option than paying for bed and breakfasts.
But it also found many of these homes are “often not properly designed with children in mind”.
It is something, Abdel says, that he and his family know only too well.
“My son suffers from the heat and can’t sleep,” he says. “He has a rash on his face – eczema.
“I told the doctor I am living in something like a caravan. He said it could be the heat that is the problem and that air conditioning would help.
“We have the windows open all the time.”
Abdel, 35, works as a chef at a local restaurant but has recently struggled to make ends meet.
He says there is “nothing we like about living here” but adds that it is better than the shared hostel they lived in for two months previously.
While the report says the fact these homes are self-contained is “an advantage”, it warned they can also become “overcrowded”.
For families of up to five, the homes consist of three containers bolted together – each the width of a car and as long as a Transit van.
Single mother Lulu Abu Baker, 38, lives in her two bedroom home with her four children, aged between two and 12. They have lived there for nine months.
In the living area – which includes a small kitchen – there is no furniture except for a small table and a chair. The majority of the room is space for her children to play.
Her eldest son has autism and learning difficulties and she says it is difficult for him to use the estate’s playground because he can become violent towards the other children.
“We’re stressed and seeing my son – he doesn’t deserve that. All we want is a home so my son can get to play and he can be free,” she says.
“I keep saying we need an extra room for him and space for sensory toys, which need to be fitted on the wall and ground so he cannot lift them, so he can play and be calm.”
Lulu sleeps in a room with her youngest son, while the other two boys, aged 10 and 12, share a room with their sister, 11.
But the summer heat can cause the children problems sleeping.
She says they often wake-up “agitated” in the night, fighting or banging on the walls, with the noise travelling down the sides of the container and waking up the neighbours below.
Meal times are also difficult, she adds.
In the kitchenette there is one hob, a fridge, a freezer and a microwave. With no oven, “a quick egg or tuna sandwich” is a common evening meal.
Ealing Council runs three sites in the borough, with a total of 108 container homes. It plans to build a fourth in a bid to help home the more than 9,000 people on its waiting list for a council home.
The council says most of its container homes do have ovens and that it does offer extra fans to residents in the summer months, and extra heaters in the winter.
The gated community is well-landscaped, with planters dotted around the tidy grounds and play area.
“It looks quite appealing from the outside,” says mother Fatima, 29, who lived on the estate with her two children, aged two and five, for about six months after her marriage had broken down.
Despite the setting, however, she agrees with the commissioner’s report, which found for some residents “antisocial behaviour” had been a problem.
Fatima, a former cardiac nurse, says living there was better than being homeless, but moved out in July, after finding a two bedroom house in Northolt.
She says she was threatened by other residents, that the management office was always empty and that she regularly witnessed groups of teenagers smoking cannabis in the shared washroom area.
“They’ve changed the policy now, so you have to have a key.”
“But you don’t feel safe,” she adds. “There is a lot of drunk and vulnerable men who live here that need sheltered accommodation – somewhere they can be helped and managed.”
In response, Ealing Council said the containers offer a “stable, private environment for vulnerable homeless families who have nowhere else to go”.
It added the containers offer families “far better, much more private standard of accommodation than bed and breakfasts”, which often come with shared kitchens and bathrooms.
“We discuss every tenant’s family circumstances and needs with them in great detail before they are allocated temporary housing,” a spokesman said.
“We follow national guidelines in this process and would never deliberately place a family into a home which is not suitable for their needs.”