London Heathrow immigration strike on Thursday 26 July cancelled

By John Walton, July 25 2012
London Heathrow immigration strike on Thursday 26 July cancelled

UPDATE | Business travellers and sports fans heading to London Heathrow this Thursday can breathe a sigh of relief: the UK Border Agency passport control officers have called off their 26 July strike. You'll just have to deal with the usual Heathrow immigration queues, not the extra-special London 2012 versions.

PREVIOUSLY | Chaos is expected at main London 2012 Olympics airport Heathrow this Thursday as the strikes scheduled for 26 July coincide with the airport's busiest day ever.

UK Border Agency staff and other public servants will walk out over various employment issues.

Extra contingency measures are in place for the Olympics, meaning you may well see military police and public servant managers checking your passport, but the majority of the work they're allowed to do covers UK and EU nationals. The "Other Foreigners" queue is likely to be unprecedented.

So if against all advice you're heading to London on business this week, you'll want to make sure that you've brought something to entertain yourself with while you endure the queues. Keep those electronic devices charged during the flight if you can, and let anyone expecting you know that you might be late.  

Avoiding the strikes: your other options

If you're heading to the UK, smaller airports may offer less of a queue. While Qantas and its partner British Airways only serve Heathrow for flights from Australia, many European airlines have decent connections via their hubs to other UK cities.

So if you've still got time to change your plans, consider KLM via Amsterdam, Lufthansa via Munich or Frankfurt, Finnair via Helsinki, Brussels Airlines via Brussels, SAS' Scandinavian hubs or even Air France via Paris (usually an airport we avoid).

Some Asian and Middle East airlines also fly directly from their own hubs to UK regional airports. Emirates has flights to several UK cities, for example.

If you're bound via London for other European destinations, consider rerouting to avoid Heathrow. While most Qantas flights head for LHR, the Red Roo also has Singapore-Frankfurt flights.

Contact your airline -- even if your ticket carries change penalties -- and see whether there's extra flexibility in the circumstances.

And be aware that your travel insurance may not pay up for related delays or cancellations if you book now that the strike has been publicised. There's usually one of those vague "reasonable person could have been aware" clauses in travel insurance policies, which means that if you book after the theoretical "reasonable person" should have been aware of strikes, you may be out of luck for compensation.

See also...

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John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2011

Total posts 231

Thank God for that.

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