European Flights Facing Delays and Cancellations This Week Due to Strikes

Mar 4, 2017

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.

Two significant European strikes threaten to wreak havoc on European flights this week. Thankfully airlines are already setting up travel waivers allowing travelers to rebook themselves out of the mess, so if your plans currently have you flying in or through one of these areas, it’s important to know when and where the strikes are scheduled to happen.

France Air Traffic Controller Strike

It’s a pattern we’ve become incredibly used to in recent years: the Air Traffic Controllers in France are going on strike Monday and Tuesday. Since France is centrally located in Europe, this strike doesn’t just affect flights going in and out of the country. Even flights scheduled to fly over France usually have to be re-routed during these strikes, further exacerbating delays. Here’s an example of this during a recent French ATC strike:

During a recent strike, this flight from Frankfurt to Barcelona had to route outside French airspace — adding an extra hour to the scheduled flight time. Image courtesy of FlightRadar24.

While we take no political position on the subject, Airlines For Europe has a petition to “Keep Europe’s Skies Open” asking the European Commission to put limitations on when and how French ATC can go on strike. On the petition website, Airlines For Europe notes:

Since 2010, ATC unions have caused more than 200 days of disruption resulting in cancellations and delays for millions of holiday makers across Europe. This has an impact on the European economy, tourism, and competitiveness. Europe’s reputation is at stake.

Berlin Strike

As if the French ATC strike isn’t going to impact German flights enough, ground staff at the two largest airports in Berlin have voted overwhelmingly to go on strike yet again. Similar recent strikes have led to the cancellation of at least 300 flights, and the timing of this strike couldn’t be worse for airline professionals. ITB Berlin — the self-proclaimed “World’s Leading Travel Trade Show” and a recent source of entertaining airline bickering — is scheduled for this Wednesday through Sunday. Although the strike hasn’t been scheduled yet, the convention’s website is already suggesting that visitors reroute through other airports and take a train or bus to Berlin.

Airline Travel Waivers

If you might be impacted by these strikes, check with your airline to see if it has a travel notice. Multiple airlines have already released change fee waivers allowing travelers to rebook themselves to/through other airports or on alternative dates.

Note that you can sometimes get quite creative with these travel waivers, as TPG Editor-in-Chief Zach Honig did recently on his Honolulu (HNL) to Newark (EWR) flight. He was able to successfully change it to HNL-MAJ-KWA-KSA-PNI-TKK-GUM-NRT-EWR, before having to change it back due to work scheduling conflicts.

As of this writing, here are the available travel waivers:

Air France

  • Original travel dates: March 6-10
  • Covered airports: Bordeaux, Toulouse, Pau, Biarritz, Nantes, Brest, Rennes, Lorient, Quimper, Caen, Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Lisboa, Rabat, Casablanca, Tunis, Algiers and Oran
  • Original ticket must have been issued by March 3
  • Rebook travel anytime on March 4-5 or 11-17
  • You may also choose to postpone your flight to after March 17, change your country of destination or origin or cancel your trip. In this case, Air France will provide you with a voucher valid for 1 year on AIR FRANCE, KLM or HOP! flights.

American Airlines

  • Original travel dates: March 6-7
  • Covered airports: Barcelona, Spain (BCN); Bordeaux, France (BOD); Lyon, France (LYS); Madrid, Spain (MAD); Marseille, France (MRS); Nice, France (NCE); Paris Charles De Gaulle, France (CDG); Toulouse, France (TLS)
  • Must have bought your ticket by March 3. Rebook travel anytime between March 4-5 or 11-17. You can’t change your origin or destination city. Must rebook in same class or pay the difference.

British Airways

  • Original travel dates: March 6-10
  • Covered flights: British Airways operated short haul service to or from any French airport as well as Madrid and Barcelona
  • Alternative flight dates: March 4-5 or 11-17


  • Original travel dates: March 6-10
  • Covered airports: Algiers, Algeria (ALG); Barcelona, Spain (BCN); Biarritz, France (BIQ); Bilbao, Spain (BIO); Bordeaux, France (BOD); Brest, France (BES); Caen, France (CFR); Casablanca, Morocco (CAS); Lisbon, Portugal (LIS); Lorient, France (LRT); Madrid, Spain (MAD); Nantes, France (NTE); Oran, Algeria (ORN); Pau, France (PUF); Quimper, France (IUP); Rabat, Morocco (RBA); Rennes, France (RNS); Toulouse, France (TLS); Tunis, Tunisia (TUN)
  • Rebooking must occur by March 15
  • Rebooked travel must being no later than March 17


  • Original travel dates: March 6-10
  • Covered airports: various in Algeria, France, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia
  • Original ticket must have been issued by March 3
  • Rebooked travel must being no later than March 17

United Airlines

  • Original travel dates: March 5-10
  • Covered airports: ​​​​​​​​​​​​​Barcelona, ES (BCN); Lisbon, PT (LIS); Madrid, ES (MAD); Paris, FR (CDG)
  • The change fee and any difference in fare will be waived for new flights departing on or before March 17, as long as travel is rescheduled in the same cabin (any fare class) and between the same cities as originally ticketed.​​

As of publishing, LufthansaRyanair and XL Airways haven’t issued travel waivers for this strike.

If Your Flight is Delayed/Cancelled

If you do experience a travel disruption, make sure to check the benefits on the credit card you used to book the flight. Some of the top credit cards offer trip delay/cancellation insurance, including the Citi Prestige ($500 per passenger for 3+ hour delay), the Chase Sapphire Reserve ($500 per ticket for 6+ hour or overnight delay) and Chase Sapphire Preferred ($500 per ticket for 12+ hour or overnight delay).

Featured image courtesy of BERTRAND GUAY via Getty Images.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.