Check your tickets: if you’re heading to Europe for a river cruise this weekend, you might be in for some unexpected adventures.
Did you know the pilot’s union representing TAP Portugal has been on-strike since May 1? Neither did we – but many travelers this week only found out the hard way when they arrived at the airport to discover their flights were cancelled.
Incredibly, the strike has been going on for over a week with varying degrees of intensity, but today was the first day the flag carrier of Portugal saw fit to update their website with a proper press release. The airline’s social media channels aren’t much better; TAP’s twitter feed is awash with negative responses from guests left in the lurch, or directed to take their problems to counter agents at airports around the globe.
In a rather empty statement issued only today on their website, TAP insists they are doing everything in their power to assist guests without highlighting any real practical solutions:
Pilots union strike, scheduled to occur between may 1st and may 10th, will cause difficulties in our regular operation and, for that, we apologize in advance.
Tap is allowing, since the announcement of the strike, our passengers to rebook their reservations to other dates, without any cost, or to cancel and request a travel voucher, to be used within 1 year on TAP flights, in order to mitigate as much as possible the effects of the strike.
Our services have been working intensively to arrange the best possible solutions, in order to minimize the impact of a 10 day strike.
We inform our passengers, beforehand, of the difficulties that our services at the contact center and airports are experiencing in responding promptly. However, we assure our passengers that we are doing everything in our reach to solve the situations that come to our attention.
Relevant information related to our operation will be updated regularly on our usual communication channels.
Of more help to travelers with ticketed flights on TAP (or codeshare flights operated by TAP but marketed by Air Canada, Lufthansa, United Airlines and other Star Alliance partners) is this continually-updated link of “flights that almost certainly will not operate.” (scroll down).
All things considered, it’s probably the worst response from an airline to a strike that we’ve seen in a long time. Subsidiary feeder airline Portugalia (PGA) is also affected.
If rail is your preferred method of travel, heads up: Germany is in the midst of a week-long rail strike that is expected to last through the weekend. German locomotive operators are seeking a five percent pay hike in what has become the longest walkout in the history of Deutsche Bahn, the largest railway operator of both passenger and freight in the country.
How can this affect you? Well, obviously, if you’re travelling by high-speed or long-distance train through Germany, be prepared to make alternate plans. But the strike can also creep up in unexpected ways: German airline Lufthansa frequently allows travelers to complete their onward journey to some of the country’s smaller towns on DB trains simply by exchanging their boarding pass at the appropriate ticket office.
Fortunately, DB has been far more forthcoming than TAP has: affected travelers can exchange their tickets for more expensive rail services like ICE free of charge. Alternately, customers can get a refund for their unused ticket and reservation, which would allow them to then use any other method of transportation. Other operators in the region, like ICE and Thalys, are not affected.
We’ll have more information on both states of industrial action as it becomes available.