The strikes that can ruin your vacation – our calendar of travel chaos

empty platforms at Kings Cross Station in London.  Rail travelers face new travel chaos on Friday due to another train drivers' strike that will leave large parts of the country without services all day - James Manning/PA Wire

empty platforms at Kings Cross Station in London. Rail travelers face new travel chaos on Friday due to another train drivers’ strike that will leave large parts of the country without services all day – James Manning/PA Wire

We’re becoming all too familiar with strikes impacting our day-to-day lives, but you may not have realized that upcoming industrial action could also mess up your vacation plans. The likes of passport officers and museum workers have been running away in recent weeks, and even getting to the airport can be a challenge with ongoing rail strikes.

Outside the borders of the UK, travel-related strikes in Europe could lead to flight delays or cancellations as well as problems on the ground, which will be a particular concern for families going on holiday in February.

Here we round up the planned travel strikes at the top European holiday destinations this month. This page will be updated regularly to reflect the latest information, but please note that some strikes are announced at short notice.


A new round of train strikes in the first week of February brought the rail network in the UK to a standstill. Victoria and London Bridge were among the stations to close completely. No new train strikes have been announced, but railway union boss Mick Lynch has previously said strikes could last until November 2023.

Elsewhere, ferry services between Dover and Calais were canceled on 9 February due to industrial action in France. In a tweet, the Port of Dover announced: “Due to national action in France on 23/09/23, there will be no ship movements in the Port of Calais and all sailings will be suspended between 8am and 5pm.

“Sailings to Dunkirk have not been affected.”

Meanwhile, UK Border Force strikes in key ports will coincide with half-term holidays. About 1,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) will strike in Dover, Calais, Coquelles and Dunkirk from February 17-20.


No stranger to strikes, France will see another wave of action in February. Gasoline workers walked out for 48 hours on February 6. Similar strikes last year caused fuel shortages across the country, with more than a third of gas stations completely empty and drivers waiting for hours to fill up.

As outlined above, ferry services between Dover and Calais were halted on 9 February due to French strikes over President Macron’s plan to raise the retirement age by two years to 64.

And on February 19, employees of the country’s national rail operator, SNCF, will go on strike, likely leading to widespread disruption to train services across the country.

Holidays to France could also be affected by the UK Border Force strikes in ports such as Calais, Coquelles and Dunkirk from 17 to 20 February.


Air traffic controllers in Spain walked out on Feb. 6, and action was taken every Monday through the end of the month.

Jet2 warned that its flights could be affected. A message on the airline’s website read: “We wanted to inform you that an industrial strike will take place on Monday, February 6, supported by the air traffic service in Spain.

“If you are affected, rest assured that we will try to keep the inconvenience to a minimum. Please be at the airport at least two hours before your departure time. Check-in closes 40 minutes before a flight’s scheduled departure time.

“For up-to-date information, please check this web page again, as well as the departure screens and listen for any announcements. We will help you on your way as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, EasyJet has tried to allay passengers’ fears. A spokesperson said: “We do not expect any disruption to our flight program, but we are advising customers traveling on the affected dates to check the status of their flights on our Flight Tracker page.”

In total, 16 airports will be affected by the strike action:

  • A Coruna

  • Alicante

  • Castellon

  • El Hierro

  • Fuerteventura

  • Ibiza

  • Jerez de la Frontera

  • La Palma

  • Lanzarote

  • Lleida

  • Madrid-Cuatro Vientos

  • Murcia

  • Sabadel

  • Seville

  • valencia

  • Vigo

It is worth noting that the legislation in Spain means that a minimum level of service must be maintained at all times. As such, the impact of past strike action by air traffic controllers and airline cabin crew has been less dramatic than previously feared.


Public transport workers in Italy will hold a 24-hour national strike on February 17. There will be other more local promotions throughout the month, but this is not expected to cause major problems for holidaymakers.


Railway workers across Portugal will also leave on February 9. The action follows the strikes of the cabin crew of the national airline TAP last month.

What to do if your travel plans are affected by strikes?

Before traveling, check for ground strikes at your destination and plan accordingly. For example, even local train strikes can cause problems when traveling from the airport upon arrival.

Contact your airline immediately if your flight is delayed or canceled due to a strike. Airlines are obliged to provide assistance such as food and drink or accommodation in case of major delays due to industrial action. Most will try to put you on another flight where space allows.

For flights that are canceled entirely, the right to compensation depends on whether the airline has the strike under control. Under UK and EU law, you are only entitled to a refund if your carrier informs you that your flight has been canceled within 14 days of the date you were due to fly.

Read our in-depth guide here for more information on what to do if your flight is delayed or cancelled.

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