UK Border Control – November 30 Airport Strike Advice For Travellers

Passengers arriving in the UK on Wednesday November 30th – particularly those arriving by plane – should prepare to face delays, cancellations and “quite possibly chaos” during the Public Sector strike, according to flight search website

With UK Border Control agents at London’s main international airports not at their posts on Wednesday, the government plans to draft in police and even possibly military personnel to handle the huge numbers of people entering Britain.

Heathrow handles around 60,000 passport checks per day and Gatwick is London’s second busiest airport. The overall impact on the British economy – with NHS staff and teachers also involved – could reach £500 million.

If you’re flying to, or from Britain, on Wednesday, how will it affect you? Guidelines:

  • The strike starts on Tuesday evening and ends at 23.59 on Wednesday 30th, however starting times will vary as each airport operates on different shift patterns
  • UK Border Agency staff levels are expected to be about 30-50% of the maximum, causing significant disruption and delays. Heathrow airport officials say delays could be as long as 12 hours as long queues form in the immigration hall and passengers may have to remain on planes before they can be let through
  • If you are leaving the UK on the strike day, keep checking with your airline, agent and online before you travel. Current advice is that outbound passengers will be minimally affected.
  • Check your airline’s website and Twitter channel.
  • If you are flying INTO the UK on strike day, and want to reschedule your trip, some airlines are permitting changes at no extra charge but each operator’s guidelines are different. Again, check with your airline well ahead of time and keep an eye out for up to the minute advice.
  • Flight delays in the UK may have a knock on effect at some other destinations, e.g. connecting flights, so check before you fly.
  • Virgin Atlantic is allowing those on inbound UK flights to rebook up to 4 days earlier or later and BA is allowing passengers to switch flights free of charge while Cathay Pacific is actively urging passengers to postpone unnecessary travel and rebook on another date instead.
  • Travel insurance: some insurers will cover policyholders for delays and cancellations that last longer than 24 hours, but read the T&Cs carefully as each policy will differ.

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