Travel Alert December 2019: Industrial Action in France Causes Hundreds of Flights to Be Canceled

A call for labor strikes has been issued by members of trade unions in France for tomorrow, Thursday, December 5, 2019, during which public servants and private sector employees will protest their anger pertaining to pension reforms by the government — and the industrial labor action has already affected air travel for the day, as hundreds of flights to, from and within France have already been canceled.

Travel Alert December 2019: Industrial Action in France Causes Hundreds of Flights to Be Canceled

Arc de Triomphe Paris

Photograph ©2008 by Brian Cohen.

The United States Embassy and Consulates in France has issued this official demonstration alert for tomorrow, Thursday, December 5, 2019…

A general strike in France affecting transportation and other public service sectors will take place on Thursday, December 5, 2019. There will be significant disruptions to rail, air, and local transportation services. This strike could continue beyond December 5, and many trains and flights have already been cancelled.

In conjunction with the strike, various labor unions are planning large demonstrations in major cities.  The “Gilets Jaunes” (Yellow Vests) are expected to join these marches. Please review the Travel Advisory for France – Exercise Increased Caution for additional safety and security information. While the demonstrations may not be directed at the U.S. Embassy, access to the streets surrounding the Embassy may be blocked by police or demonstrators.

…and the alert also advises that you review your travel plans for Thursday, December 5, 2019 through Monday, December 9, 2019 — meaning that the industrial action could occur for as many as five consecutive days.

This notice is currently displayed at the official Internet web site of Air France at the time this article was written:

Due to a national call for strike action in France on Thursday 5 December 2019, continued by French Air Traffic controllers from 5 to 7 December, the DGAC (French Civil Aviation Authority) has requested airlines to reduce their flight program to and from Paris CDG, Paris Orly, Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse and Bordeaux airports for 5 December 2019.

Our flights schedule is up to date. On 5 December we expect to operate:
– all our long-haul flights
– 85% of our medium-haul flights
– Almost 70% of our domestic flights

Last-minute delays and cancelations cannot be excluded.

Our teams are fully mobilized and will do their utmost to assist you and minimize the impact of this industrial action on your travel plans.

Disruptions are also possible for 6 and 7 December, and our flight program will be adjusted the day before, following DGAC recommendations.

If you wish to change your flight to an earlier or later date, you may do so free of charge.

Paris Metro

Photograph ©2008 by Brian Cohen.

Additionally, service of nine of the ten high-speed trains which are operated by SNCF — as well as service along eleven lines of the Paris Métro — will also be canceled on Thursday, December 5, 2019. Along with substantial disruptions of train services and bus services, motorists should expect a traffic nightmare in the form of gridlock on streets, boulevards and highways.

Flight Waivers, Delays and Cancellations

Hilton Paris Orly Airport

Photograph ©2008 by Brian Cohen.

If you are traveling to France over the next few days, expect delays and cancellations of flights. Keep up to date on the latest information pertaining to this industrial action which may adversely affect your travel plans.

If you have a flight scheduled, your flight may be delayed or canceled — and you may be eligible for a waiver of a fee to change your itinerary.

Here are eight airlines which have issued travel alerts as a result of the pending industrial action in France:

  • American Airlines has issued a travel alert for Paris for Thursday, December 5, 2019 through Saturday, December 7, 2019; and Sunday, December 15, 2019 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Delta Air Lines has issued travel alerts for all short-haul flights and medium-haul flights operated by Air France for Thursday, December 5, 2019 through Saturday, December 7, 2019; and Sunday, December 15, 2019 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • United Airlines has issued a travel alert for Paris for Wednesday, December 4, 2019 through Saturday, December 7, 2019; and Sunday, December 15, 2019 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Air France has issued a travel alert for airports throughout France for Thursday, December 5, 2019 through Saturday, December 7, 2019; and tickets may be reissued for rebooked travel, but no specific final date has been given. If you are affected, call the airline for specific information.
  • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has issued a travel alert for airports throughout France for Thursday, December 5, 2019 through Saturday, December 7, 2019; and Sunday, December 15, 2019 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Iberia has issued a travel alert for airports throughout France for Thursday, December 5, 2019 through Saturday, December 7, 2019; and Sunday, December 15, 2019 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • British Airways has issued travel alert for Barcelona, Madrid, Basel, Geneva, Zurich, and all airports throughout France for Thursday, December 5, 2019 through Saturday, December 7, 2019; and Thursday, December 12, 2019 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • easyJet has issued a travel alert for airports throughout France for Thursday, December 5, 2019 through Saturday, December 7, 2019; and tickets may be reissued for rebooked travel, but no specific final date has been given. If you are affected, call the airline for specific information.

Summary

Eiffel Tower Paris

Photograph ©2008 by Brian Cohen.

France joins other countries — such as Colombia, Italy, Argentina, Belgium, Chile, Germany, Honduras, Ecuador and Bolivia as nine of numerous examples — in experiencing civil unrest and industrial actions in recent months.

Other airlines which serve France may also issue travel alerts — and travel waivers — for Thursday, December 5, 2019 through Saturday, December 7, 2019 as a result of the strikes…

…but remember that in accordance with European Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004, passengers who are affected by the strikes will not be entitled to claim for compensation as a result of the industrial action.

Although your flight may not be affected, if you have travel plans to, from or within France on those days, you may want to consider changing them.

All photographs ©2008 and ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

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