London Heathrow Airport security staff strikes: Dates of action and will your flight be

British families are fearing for their summer holiday plans today after they were thrown into doubt by a month’s worth of strike action at London Heathrow.

Unite yesterday ordered 31 days of action by security staff at Britain’s biggest airport – with many of the dates falling over weekends in late June, July and August.

They include the Muslim festival of Eid in late June and schools finishing for summer in July, and mark a dramatic escalation of the union’s bitter dispute with the airport.

There have been 18 days of walkouts so far – and this time around 2,000 security officers will down tools in Terminal 3 and Terminal 5. The action will be on June 24, 25, 28, 29 and 30, and July 14-16, 21-24, 28-31 and August 4-7, 11-14, 18-20 and 24-27.

More than 42,600 flights are set to depart Heathrow over the three-month strike window from June 24 to August 27, according to aviation analytics firm Cirium.

Its data also revealed more than 20,000 flights are scheduled to leave Heathrow on strike days – 3,241 in June, 7,166 in July and 9,756 in August. This means 4.4million seats have been put at risk by the action, nearly half of which fall in August alone.

Passengers queue at security at London Heathrow on June 22 last year amid staff shortages

Passengers queue at security at London Heathrow on June 22 last year amid staff shortages

Passengers due to travel on the strike days have been contacting airlines on social media to find out whether their flight is still running.

Full list of strike days by Heathrow security staff in summer 2023

  • June 24
  • June 25
  • June 28
  • June 29
  • June 30
  • July 14
  • July 15
  • July 16
  • July 21
  • July 22
  • July 23
  • July 24
  • July 28
  • July 29
  • July 30
  • July 31
  • August 4
  • August 5
  • August 6
  • August 7
  • August 11
  • August 12
  • August 13
  • August 14
  • August 18
  • August 19
  • August 20
  • August 24
  • August 25
  • August 26
  • August 27

Among them was Eram Rabbani who tweeted British Airways to say: ‘I have flights booked in August. Unfortunately my outward and inwards flights falls on dates corresponding to those when Heathrow is due to have strikes. When or how will I be informed if my flights will be cancelled due to the strikes?’

Another Twitter user asked British Airways: ‘I have a flight to London Heathrow on July 21, and strikes for that day have just been announced.

‘Is this a reason for you to allow me to change my flight (not paying £150 in fees) to the day before (as the dates after are all strike days too)? Thanks.’

And Gavin Longthorn tweeted Virgin to ask: ‘Just found out there is a strike at Heathrow on our day of departure have we any options of change?’

British Airways was forced to cancel some flights during the last rounds of strikes. The action also threatens to spark disruption and delays.

Heathrow is one of the busiest airports in the world and airlines are in talks with its bosses about the possibility of having to make cancellations.

Most passengers were unaffected during the previous strikes.

But the PCS union, which represents border officials, could yet announce more walkouts in a bid to cause chaos at passport booths.

And it comes after a year of train walkouts by rail unions which have also thrown holidaymakers’ plans into disarray.

The Mail reported on Saturday how the rail strikes, which are thought to have cost the economy at least £5billion, could drag on for a further year because talks have collapsed.

Critics last night accused Unite of a ‘totally cynical’ attempt to wreck families’ holidays with the Heathrow strikes.

Conservative MP Greg Smith, who sits on the Commons transport committee, said: ‘This is now beyond an absolute joke.

‘People will be looking forward to their summer holiday that, in many instances, they will have saved up for a long time for – only to be thwarted by Labour-backing unions.

‘It will go down very badly with the British public. It’s totally cynical. All this is to try and cause maximum disruption to real hard-working people.

Can I get compensation for a delayed flight? 


If your flight is cancelled, you have a number of options. 

You are legally entitled to a full refund, which includes other flights from the airline that you won’t use in the same booking, such as onward or return flights.

You are also entitled to a replacement flight to get you to your destination. 

If your cancelled flight delays you by two hours or more, you have the legal right to be helped with costs. 

If the replacement flight offered to you has delayed you by two hours or more, and you were given less than two weeks’ notice, you are legally entitled to compensation. 

The Heathrow Airport website recommends that passengers should arrive at the airport three hours before their departure for international flights, and two hours before take-off for domestic flights. 

A number of flights could be cancelled due to the summer strikes at Heathrow, so it is best to check the status of your flight before you travel to the airport. 

‘It’s totally unacceptable that the unions want to take out their political grievances on the British public like this.’

And Lee Anderson MP, deputy chairman of the Tory party, said: ‘Once again ordinary Brits will have their hard-earned holidays grounded by these perpetual strikers.

‘Thirty-one days of despicably timed strikes over the summer holidays threatens to leave thousands of families in the lurch and countless school holidays ruined, despite a significant pay offer having already been made.

‘Meanwhile, the Labour Party stands side by side on their picket lines and refuses to back our Minimum Service Levels legislation [designed to limit the impact of strikes]. This is no surprise given they’ve pocketed millions from the Unite strike barons.’

Unite has donated £9million to the Labour party and its local constituency groups since 2019. 

Military personnel were drafted in to check passports at UK airports including Heathrow during Border Force strikes in December.

Asked if the Government is planning anything similar for the forthcoming round of industrial action, a Downing Street spokesman said: ‘I’m not aware of it as things stand now, but, as I say, of course we will continue to keep an eye on the situation.

‘We obviously recognise that this will be a major concern for those who are looking to travel over the next few months and those who are looking to get away on their summer holidays.

‘Ultimately it’s a matter for Heathrow and the union to resolve, but we expect operators to make every effort to minimise disruption and to ensure those who are reliant on their services and those who have booked flights can still travel.’

Unite has snubbed a 10 per cent pay increase over two years for members, which would take the total starting earnings of a security officer to nearly £32,000 when allowances are included.

Unions urge peers to oppose anti-strikes bill 

Unions are urging members of the House of Lords to oppose controversial government plans for a law aimed at providing minimum levels of service during strikes.

Peers will again debate the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill today after previously suggesting amendments including preventing workers facing the sack, which were overturned by MPs.

Unions have warned the Bill will mean that, when workers lawfully vote to strike in health, education, fire, transport, border security and nuclear decommissioning, they could be forced to attend work and sacked if they do not comply.

Unions have vowed to campaign against the legislation and are expected to mount a legal challenge.

The TUC has estimated that one in five workers could lose their right to strike, and accused Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of attacking workers’ ability to win a fair pay deal in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis.

TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: ‘Last month, peers overwhelmingly rejected the Government’s brazen attack on the right to strike. They must stand firm today and oppose the Conservative Government’s pernicious plans once more.

‘No one should be sacked for trying to win a better deal at work, but this draconian legislation would mean that, when workers democratically vote to strike, they could be forced to work and sacked if they don’t comply.

‘It’s undemocratic, unworkable and is very likely to breach our commitments under international law. It will poison industrial relations and exacerbate disputes rather than help resolve them.

‘Rishi Sunak’s answer to the cost-of-living crisis is making it harder for workers to win a pay rise. It’s time to ditch this spiteful Bill for good and protect the right to strike.’

The planned law follows almost a year of strikes by hundreds of thousands of workers ranging from barristers and junior doctors to teachers and train drivers.

Ministers argue that the public is entitled to have a minimum level of services during strikes to reduce disruption to their lives.

Most are demanding better terms and conditions and for pay to match the cost of living, which is rising at its fastest rate in nearly 40 years.

The strikes come as Heathrow is struggling to recover from the impact of the pandemic.

The airport’s operator recorded a £139million loss in the first three months of this year.

Unite boss Sharon Graham said: ‘Unite is putting Heathrow on notice that strike action at the airport will continue until it makes a fair pay offer to its workers.

‘Make no mistake, our members will receive the union’s unflinching support in this dispute. Heathrow Airport Limited has got its priorities all wrong.

‘This is an incredibly wealthy company, which this summer is anticipating bumper profits and an executive pay bonanza.

‘It’s also expected to pay out huge dividends to shareholders, yet its workers can barely make ends meet and are paid far less than workers at other airports.’

Unite regional co-ordinating officer Wayne King added: ‘Delays, disruption and cancellations will be inevitable as a result of the strike action.

‘But this dispute is completely of Heathrow airport’s own making.’

There was chaos at airports last summer when strikes and staff shortages coincided with a surge in demand for travel post-pandemic.

Over the past year Britain has seen walkouts by railway and postal workers as well as nurses and teachers.

UK annual inflation slowed to a 13-month low in April, but remains elevated at 8.7 per cent as soaring food prices offset weaker energy costs, recent official data showed.

Heathrow, one of the world’s largest airports, is owned by a consortium led by Spanish construction giant Ferrovial.

The consortium also includes sovereign wealth funds from China, Singapore and Qatar as well as North American shareholders.

A Heathrow spokesman said: ‘Passengers can rest assured that we will do everything we can to minimise strike disruption so they can enjoy their hard-earned summer holidays.

‘Unite has already tried and failed to disrupt the airport with unnecessary strikes on some of our busiest days and we continue to build our plans to protect journeys during any future action.

A British Airways spokesman told MailOnline: ​’Like other airlines, we’re working closely with Heathrow Airport to ensure robust contingency plans are in place.’ 

And a Virgin Atlantic spokesman said: ‘We’re aware of further proposed industrial action this summer by Unite members employed by Heathrow Airport Ltd, including security officers.

‘We’ll continue to monitor the situation and will work closely with partners, including Heathrow Airport, to ensure that our customers can complete their travel plans as smoothly as possible.’

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