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Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Travel Alert: Strike by Pilots of SAS April 2019 Continues to Cause Disruptions

The operations of Scandinavian Airlines System — which is more popularly known as SAS — have been substantially disrupted by a strike of its pilots in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, which has led to hundreds of cancellations of flights and thousands of delays; and directly affecting tens of thousands of passengers.

Travel Alert: Strike by Pilots of SAS April 2019 Continues to Cause Disruptions

The strike started yesterday, Friday, April 26, 2019 and is expected to continue until the end of the day on Monday, April 29, 2019 — resulting in thousands of passengers being inconvenienced, as greater than 70 percent of the entire schedule of flights of the airline has reportedly been canceled.

Flights which are operated by airline partners of SAS are not directly affected by the strike — including shorter regional flights which are contracted out to smaller companies which represent the airline.

The Reason For the Strike By Pilots

The pilots are demanding an increase in pay of 13 percent and greater control over their work schedules from the airline, which reported a loss during the first quarter of this year and is facing increased competition from ultra-low-cost carriers.

What to Do If You Are Affected By the Strike

“SAS Customer Service apologize for the unusually long waiting times right now and we are doing everything we can to assist our customers” is part of the latest message which was posted at the official Internet web site of the airline at 16:46 Central European Time on Saturday, April 27, 2019. “SAS is striving to reach a solution as quickly as possible to prevent additional inconveniences for travelers.”

Check Your Flight Status Prior to traveling to the airport, check the status of your flight — either through Flight status or Manage my bookings — and you can also click here to find out if your flight is indeed affected by the strike.

Refunds If you are concerned that your flight has not yet been canceled but will be affected by the strike and you have a reservation for a flight operated by SAS through Monday, April 29, 2019, you can cancel your ticket and get a full ticket refund for the unused part of the ticket.

Reschedule Your Flight You may rebook your flight — which must be operated by SAS — free of charge if you are worried that your travel arrangements will be affected by the strike. Flights operated by partner airlines are not affected by the strike and therefore are not subject for voluntary rebooking free of charge.

You can rebook to a SAS flight on another date to the same destination if the same service class as the original ticket is available — even if the flight has not yet been affected or canceled. The new date of travel may not be earlier than Monday, May 6, 2019 through Monday, September 30, 2019.

The following criteria must be met in order for you to voluntary change your flight reservation free of charge:

  • Your flight is operated by SAS
  • The flight is not cancelled
  • The departure date of your flight are between Friday, April 26, 2019 and Wednesday, May 1, 2019
  • Your ticket number starts with 117
  • Your ticket is issued on or prior to Wednesday, April 24, 2019
  • The ticket is purchased on SAS web, SAS mobile software application program, or SAS Call Center
  • If you booked your flight via a travel agent or a tour operator, please contact them directly
  • You cannot rebook your trip via the Internet and must instead contact customer service if you:
    • Are travelling with an infant
    • Ordered a special meal
    • Are travelling as an unaccompanied minor
    • Have requested transportation of a wheelchair or pet

What Is Not Covered

SAS will not reimburse travelers for costs such as — but not limited to — accommodations, meals or surface or air transport related for voluntary rebookings.

If you book your ticket via a travel agent or a tour operator, you must contact them for additional information.

Summary

The legislation of European Union regulation EC 261/2004 requires airlines operating in Europe to ensure that passengers are rebooked on flights to reach their final destinations at the earliest opportunity possible — even if those flights are operated by other airlines. That is another option which is available to you if you are affected by the strike. If you do decide to file a claim and the airline refuses it, you can complete and submit this complaint form

…and as outlined in Article 9 of that regulation, you may also be eligible for what is known as Duty of Care during an extensive delay of your flight — which may include the reimbursement of such items as meals and lodging after you first pay for them.

Members of FlyerTalk are reporting mixed experiences pertaining to dealing with the airline regarding the strike.

In the meantime, I hope that some sort of compromise is worked out between the airline and its pilots — and that if you are affected by the strike, it will be at a minimum and that you get to your destination as quickly and as safely as possible.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

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