Qantas, Air Canada Flights Disrupted by Unions

In the news today, one strike looms (Air Canada), and a work stoppage that didn’t happen (Qantas) ended up disrupting flights anyway. Extremely frustrating for those lucky enough to find cheap flights that they can no longer use, but there are things you can do.

Air Canada Flight Attendants May Strike this Week

Unless there are last minute changes, the union representing Air Canada’s 6,800 flight attendants says it intends to strike starting this Thursday, Oct. 13. One of the big issues fueling the dispute: pay raises.

Read the 3 Important Tips that Can Help You Survive an Airline Strike

Air Canada officials, while “disappointed”, say they remain hopeful that a last minute work stoppage can still be averted, but are sensibly making plans as though the strike will go forward.

What Air Canada Passengers Can Do

If you are scheduled to fly this Thursday or in following days, there are a few things you can do now:

  • Go to the Air Canada website for latest updates
  • Rebook tickets for travel with no “change fee” penalty through Dec. 15

One snag in the above rebooking scenario: if too many flyers try to take advantage of this, they may not all find the seats they want. The sooner you rebook, the better.

Meanwhile, Air Canada plans to keep as many flights in the air as possible during this potential strike period by “implementing a partial schedule” which would include Air Canada Express flights operated by partners such as Jazz Air, Sky Regional Airlines and others. Again, this all could change at the last minute so keep monitoring Air Canada for updates.

Qantas Union Cancels Work Stoppage, Too Late for Some Flights

Today’s four hour long work stoppage called for by Qantas engineers was canceled, but not in time to reinstate several flights that had already been grounded in anticipation of the job action (note: all of these were domestic Australian flights).

This is the second time a labor action has been canceled at the last minute, and Qantas has accused unions of “playing games” with passengers. So far, more than 46,000 passengers have been affected by the ongoing labor situation, which again, appears to be in large part a conflict over compensation.

Union Warns Qantas Passengers about Christmas Flights

The uncertainty continues for passengers, with inflammatory statements from both sides. Union officials have suggested passengers interested in pre-Christmas flights should “probably be looking at airlines other than Qantas” while the airline’s retort is that unions are “holding passengers to ransom”.

What Qantas Passengers Can Do

  • Go to the Qantas website for alerts on “industrial actions”
  • Follow the news; work stoppages can and do change with no notice

In some ways, being victim of a strike is similar to having a flight delayed or canceled by bad weather; the key is being first on the next flight out.

  • Contact your airline immediately
  • Before you head to the airport, bring a list of airlines and phone numbers (or bookmark this in your phone) for alternate flights.

Question for Strike-Affected Flyers

Have you ever been affected by a labor action and what did you do?


Published: October 10, 2011