Home » News » Passenger Rights During Airport Strikes: Your Guide to Compensation and Alternative Options

Passenger Rights During Airport Strikes: Your Guide to Compensation and Alternative Options

In the collective bargaining dispute in the public sector, there have recently been several strikes at airports, for example here on March 13, 2023 in Hamburg. Source: dpa Days before the anxious glance at the smartphone: Will my plane take off on schedule in a few days or are strikes at the airport being calculated put my trip on the cancellation list. An overview of passenger rights during airport strikes:

How do I behave at the airport if I find out about the strike?

First I contact the airline. If they don’t offer me an alternative of their own accord, I set a deadline – the closer the departure time, the shorter. If the airline doesn’t respond at all, I can book a replacement flight myself. Here it is important to collect all receipts, i.e. for the alternative flight, but also – if the airline does not take care – costs for hotel, drinks and meals for later reimbursement.

In large parts of Lower Saxony there is a strike in the public sector today. Day care centers, local transport and garbage disposal are among those affected. The trade union ver.di is holding a central rally in Hanover.

22.03.2023 | 01:31 min

Do I get compensation if my flight is cancelled?

As a passenger, I am regularly entitled to compensation if a flight is canceled or delayed. However, if the airline can invoke extraordinary circumstances, these do not exist. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) makes a distinction when it asks whether strikes can be controlled by the airline or not. If airline staff go on strike, it may be an internal event that entitles them to compensation. However, if airport staff or air traffic controllers are on strike, this is an external event that the airline cannot control, ie the airline does not have to pay any compensation due to extraordinary circumstances.

Irrespective of compensation, the airline must do everything it can reasonably be expected to prevent the strike from affecting passengers. It must take all reasonable measures to rebook or otherwise bring passengers to their destination. The airline can only refuse compensation if all of these additional options have been unsuccessful.

[Von einem bundesweiten Warnstreik der Gewerkschaften Verdi und EVG sind am kommenden Montag auch Flugreisende betroffen. Was Sie zu dem Streik wissen müssen, lesen Sie hier.]

Who pays for substitute transportation?

If I have booked a flight, the airline must also carry me to my chosen final destination. If it is not possible to fly due to a strike, the airline must arrange free transport, possibly also by bus and train. If I am not offered this alternative transport or if I incur additional costs as a result, I am entitled to reimbursement of costs.

The warning strike by the Verdi union hit most of the major airports in Germany in the morning. In Frankfurt, Munich, Hanover, Stuttgart, Bremen, Hamburg and Dortmund, regular operations largely came to a standstill due to the strike.

17.02.2023 | 02:24 min

Can I get a refund for the flight price?

Alternatively, I can also forgo the flight and request a refund of the ticket price. The airline then has to reimburse me for the fare within seven days. Airlines often offer travel vouchers here, but I don’t have to accept them. This is only possible with my written consent.

Who is the contact person for package tours?

If I have booked a package tour and the flight is part of an overall package with flight, hotel, rental car, etc., I contact the tour operator directly and ask for arrangements with another airline or later flights. The tour operators are also responsible for strikes. If I incur further costs such as accommodation, taxi rides, telephone calls and meals as a result of possible delays, the tour operator must reimburse these. In the event of a delay of more than five hours, I can also reduce the travel price for a package tour – I must notify the tour operator of this immediately.

What rights do I have in protest actions?

If, for example, climate activists are stuck on the runway of an airport, this is not within the airlines’ operational sphere. This is an exceptional circumstance for which the airlines do not have to pay compensation.

However, the same applies here as to a strike: passengers affected by delays and cancellations have certain rights. The following applies to flight cancellations: Passengers can still insist on being transported, for example by being rebooked. Alternatively, they can ask for the money for the ticket back. In the event of a longer delay, the airlines must offer meals and, if necessary, hotel accommodation.


If a flight is canceled due to a strike, I contact the airline first. Package travelers must speak to their tour operator.

Christoph Schneider is an editor in the ZDF editorial office Law and Justice

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#Strike #airport #rights #passenger

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