Get ready for a travel headache if you are heading to Belgium on February 13. A national strike will cause disruptions in rail, bus and airline travel. The industrial action is the result of a breakdown in wage talks after three Belgian trade unions called for a general strike to protest “merger” wage increases.
Brussels Airport is reporting the general strike is expected to affect services throughout Belgium, including transportation. They expect operations at the airport to be severely impacted. Expect flight cancellations, long delays, flight diversions and baggage delivery problems. There could even be demonstrations in the city center.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Air transport won’t be the only mode of travel affected. Public trains, buses and trams will face significant disruptions, too. Road travel will be unpleasant with more cars on the road, as if the Brussels traffic scene wasn’t bad enough without a strike! Traffic jams will delay trips throughout the capital city. A normally quick trek to the airport could take hours.
The Brussels Times is reporting that strike consequences could be “significant, dependent upon the level of strike participation by other players in the airline sector. If the Skeyes air traffic controllers are forced to strike in vast numbers, airline traffic could be practically paralyzed.”
The head of the Flemish wing of the Confederation of Christian Trade Unions predicts that there will be no scheduled or charter flights within Belgian airspace.
What Should You Do?
To put it simply, change your travel plans! Brussels Airport is advising passengers to rebook flights to another day of the week if possible. They also recommend that you:
- Contact your airline for the latest information on your February 13 flight
- Travel with hand luggage only, if possible
- Be sure to stick to restrictions on liquids and gels
- Follow all restrictions on your airline’s hand baggage allowance
- Leave for the airport well ahead of your scheduled departure time to allow for travel disruptions
- Regularly check schedule updates if you are traveling by train
Brussels Airlines Apologizes
Brussels Airlines is apologizing to its passengers for the inconvenience “caused by external factors entirely beyond its control.” The airline is offering passengers alternative travel solutions or a ticket refund.
Last week, the airline cancelled 28 flights out of the 222 scheduled for February 13, re-accommodating passengers on other flights. With the latest information on the expected scale of the national strike, the airline has further reduced that number, cutting 122 more flights. That means 68% of its February 13 flights will be cancelled, ultimately affecting 11,288 passengers. See a complete list of all the airline’s cancelled flights on www.brusselsairlines.com.
Passengers are being asked to contact their travel agency or Brussels Airlines Service Centre via Facebook, Twitter or phone at +32 2 723 23 62. Refunds can be requested online on www.brusselsairlines.com/refund or via the passengers’ travel agency.