Flight Cancellations: Strike in Germany, Storm in U.S.

Airplane Boarding
A plane at Berlin's Tegel airport // Photo by frankpeters/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

It’s a rough day out there for air travel – here’s what you need to know.

Almost all flights into and out of Berlin’s Schönefeld and Tegel airports are cancelled today due to a strike by the Ver.di union, which represents airfield and terminal employees.

The airports are advising travelers that the strike could last from 4 a.m. March 10 to 5 a.m. March 11 (all times local).

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Cancellation Waivers and Refunds

Airberlin is offering domestic passengers whose flights are cancelled due to the strike the option to exchange their flight ticket for a free voucher for the Deutsche Bahn train. Travelers will receive the voucher upon presentation of their travel confirmation (boarding pass or ticket number) at any airberlin airport ticket counter. Passengers whose flights are cancelled March 10 may rebook to another date or obtain a refund.

Lufthansa has cancelled all flights between Munich and Frankfurt and Berlin. Guests with cancelled flights can rebook free of charge. Like airberlin, Lufthansa is also issuing Deutsche Bahn vouchers for passengers who were booked on flights within Germany. The airline is also encouraging travelers who booked through a travel agent to contact their travel agent.

American Airlines is also waiving change fees for travelers who booked by March 9 for travel through March 10. Rebooked travel must take place March 11 – 14 between the same origin or destination city in the same cabin, with the option to pay the difference. Travelers can also rebook on a British Airways flight to or from any airport in Germany on March 10, although travel between alternative German airports and Berlin is at the travelers’ own expense.

The industrial action is the latest in a series of strikes that have disrupted air travel in Germany, most recently in February as the Ver.di union continues to negotiate for a pay increase. Another wrinkle: the strike is hitting right during major travel tradeshow ITB Berlin, which runs through Sunday, March 12.

Air Traffic Controller Strike Impacts Air France

Following the call for a strike action issued by a union for French air traffic controllers from March 6 to March 10, the French Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC) has asked airlines to reduce their flight schedule between west and south of France, the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa

Travelers on Air France with tickets issued on or before March 3 for flights through March 10, departing from or arriving in Bordeaux, Toulouse, Pau, Biarritz, Nantes, Brest, Rennes, Lorient, Quimper or Caen, can rebook onto a later flight through March 17. Guests may also postpone their flight until after March 17, change their country of destination or origin or cancel their trip, in which case Air France will provide a voucher valid for one year on Air France, KLM or HOP! flights. The voucher is nonrefundable. 

Other airlines are also issuing change waivers as a result of the Air France strike. For travelers on United through Barcelona, Lisbon, Madrid or Paris originally booked through March 10, the change fee and any difference in fare will be waived for new flights departing through arch 17. Travel must be in the same cabin and between the same cities. 

Delta is offering travelers the chance to cancel their trip if their flight is cancelled or significantly delayed (90 minutes or more), refunding the unused portion of their ticket. Travelers can also make a one-time change without fee for travel through March 10. The new ticket must be reissued on or before March 15 with rebooked travel to begin no later than March 17. 

Winter Weather in the Northeastern U.S.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Winter Storm Reggie in the northeastern United States is also snarling air travel.

JetBlue is offering a travel agent waiver code for travelers flying today through affected airports. Agents may rebook their clients for travel through March 13 prior to the departure of their originally scheduled flight. If a flight is cancelled, travelers may also opt for a refund. The original travel must have been booked on or before March 8.

United Airlines is waiving the change fee and any difference in fare for new flights departing on or before March 13 in the same cabin class and between the original city pair.

American Airlines is waiving change fees for travelers who bought their ticket by March 8 for travel through March 10, with rebooked travel to take place through March 13 in the same cabin and between the same city pair. Travelers can also pay the difference in cabin class.

Delta is offering a refund for the unused portion of a travelers’ ticket, or a one-time change without fee, for travel through affected airports taking place March 10. The ticket must be reissued on or before March 13 with rebooked travel to begin no later than that day.

Southwest Airlines is also offering travelers with reservations for March 10 the chance to rebook in the original class of service or travel standby within 14 days of their original date of travel between the original city pairs without any additional fee.

According to the latest forecast from Weather.com, a winter weather advisory is in place for portions of the Northeast, including New York City, Hartford and Pittsburgh. A winter storm warning is in place for parts of southern New England, eastern Long Island, Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Up to five inches of snow are forecast for eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania, while accumulations in the New York City metro area should remain less than six inches. Heavier snow is possible in southeast New England, including Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, with some of those areas potentially seeing up to eight inches of snow.

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