Around 18,000 immigration officials are expected to join the industrial action on 30 November over public sector pensions, threatening to bring airports to a halt with canceled flights and 12-hour+ long queues. In preparation for the planned strike by UK Border Agency staff, Heathrow has asked airlines to cut passenger capacity on international flights arriving in the UK by half. Tens of thousands of passengers have already been rebooked to other dates and those still flying are being warned to expect lengthy delays upon arrival.
Prime Minister David Cameron has condemned the planned action, stating that the reason for the “disruption and the responsibility for that disruption lies squarely with the trade union leaders who’ve decided on a strike even while negotiations are ongoing.” Meanwhile, there have been reports that the military is preparing to step in and take over border control duties during the strike to help minimize the disruption and the £500m loss that the action could cost the UK economy.
According to the Guardian, one UK Border Agency spokesman said: “Securing the border is our priority and over the last weeks and months we have considered all options to ensure we are prepared for union action. We always aim to minimise any disruption caused by the decision of unions to strike, but travellers could see longer waiting times at some ports and airports.”
Regardless of these preparations, if your travel plans are taking you through Heathrow or one of the other area airports this week, we recommend bringing a good, long book with you.