Will strikes chaos ground my flight? The Holiday Guru has the answer

Will strikes chaos ground my flight? My passport is filling up with stamps – do I need a new one? The Holiday Guru tackles travellers’ questions

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The Holiday Guru is here to answer travellers’ questions.

This week he tackles queries around the upcoming security staff strikes at Heathrow, how many blank pages you need in your passport, the best non-Dover ferry routes to the Continent, and more…

Q. What’s the latest on the security staff strikes planned at Heathrow?

Audrey Johnson, Bath

A. Strikes by the Unite union are planned to hit Heathrow’s Terminal 5 for eight days during May. They start this week, from Thursday to Saturday, as well as on May 9 to 10 and 25 to 27.

Strikes by the Unite union are planned to hit Heathrow’s Terminal 5 for eight days during May 

The other terminals are unaffected. The union hopes for ‘May mayhem’, but the impact should be limited, as it has been during similar walkouts.

Some flights may be cancelled – perhaps one in 20 – but these should be on short-haul routes, such as to Geneva and Dublin, where alternatives are available on the day.

Long-haul services should run as normal.

Q. What happens if my flight is cancelled due to the strikes?

Ben Watson, via email

A. You are entitled to a place on a reasonable replacement flight or a full refund.

Q. Do we need to arrive especially early at the airport on strike dates?

Sarah Kenworthy, Penrith, Cumbria

A. No, the recommended arrival times of two hours before a short-haul flight and three hours before long-haul flights are fine.

Q. I need a new passport for travel in August. If I apply for one now, will I be all right?

Mr Owen, Rochdale

A. Despite strikes by more than 1,000 Passport Office workers that have run since April 3 and are due to end on Friday, there has been no effect on the standard passport application time of ten weeks.

See gov.uk or apply at a post office. Those seeking passports sooner can request an appointment for a one-week ‘fast-track’ service. But act quickly as these slots are being snapped up.

Q. My son’s passport will have two-and-a-half month’s validity left when travel to France in August. Will this be enough?

Kate Peters, Teddington, London

A. No. He will need at least three months on his passport to visit the European Union. You should apply for a renewal.

Q. My passport is filling up with stamps and there’s hardly any space left, but it’s got a couple of years to go. What should I do?

Dan Penton, Manchester

You need at least three months on your passport to visit the European Union

A. You, too, need to apply for a renewal. Some countries can be fussy about passports with pages filled – Italy and South Africa require at least two full blank pages.

Q. Can you suggest ferry alternatives to the Continent to avoid possible delays at Dover?

Sally Hamilton, via email

A. Try Brittany Ferries for Portsmouth to Caen, St Malo, Cherbourg and Le Havre (brittany-ferries.co.uk), DFDS for Newhaven to Dieppe or Newcastle to Amsterdam (dfds.com), P&O Ferries for Hull to Rotterdam (poferries.com), or Stena Line from Harwich to the Hook of Holland (stenaline.co.uk). It you do go via Dover, see traffic updates at trafficengland.com.

Q. My husband and I were robbed of a rucksack containing a laptop and a scanner at Victoria Station in London. We submitted a claim to Free Spirit, our travel insurer, but we do not have receipts and our bank statements are not good enough. We are in our 80s and the claim feels like a war of attrition. Can you help?

Margaret Edwards, via email

A. We contacted the claims handling agent, Davies Group, which looked into the matter. The bank statements and other evidence have now been accepted and a settlement of £1,000 has been made.


If you need advice, the Holiday Guru is here to answer your questions. Email us at [email protected].

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