A family’s £20,000 dream trip to Disneyland was a casualty of Heathrow airport strikes that has seen British Airways cancel over 300 flights during the Easter period – leaving many Brits’ holiday plans in tatters.
More than 1,000 security staff at the West London airport have gone on strike in the first of 10 days of walkouts after talks with Unite to prevent the strikes collapsed.
Brady Adcock was one of the customers affected by the action and didn’t hear that his flight had been cancelled until this morning.
Mr Adcock told MailOnline that he and his family had spent £20,000 to travel to Los Angeles to visit Disneyland and were now sitting in a £500 Heathrow hotel to plot their next move.
He said his children, aged seven and 16 were very disappointed and criticised how British airways had handled proceedings.
He said: ‘It’s very frustrating. We’ve been on the phone since 4am this morning, trying to get anything sorted and nobody has been helpful.
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Passengers queuing to go through security in departures at Terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport
A family has seen their Disneyland trip delayed due to the upheaval at Heathrow
British Airways cancelled over 70 flights today due to strike action from security staff
One family says their trip to Disneyland was cancelled by the strikes
Another claimed his Miami flight had been rerouted to Fort Lauderdale
‘We’re now at a £500 a night hotel by Terminal 5 and are arranging Virgin flights for tomorrow which are two to three times more expensive – It’s become a £20,000 holiday.
‘British Airways used to have good customer service but they’ve been poor, they’ve been underprepared.
‘Two weeks we’re there, hopefully we don’t have this trouble coming back.’
Whilst they wait to see if they will go to Disneyland or not, Mr Adcock says his children have been inconsolable.
He said: ‘They’re devastated they thought they were going to Disneyland, they were talking about it for months.
‘I just don’t get why they cancelled so late, you’d think they have their ducks in the row.’
MailOnline has approached British Airways for comment on the situation.
The Adcock family weren’t the only impacted.
Another passenger claimed he had been re-routed to Fort Lauderdale after his Miami flight was cancelled. He raged: ‘Worst airline ever. Miami to London flight cancelled, moved to Fort L via Philadelphia. No customer service at all chat discussion took six hours.’
A seasoned traveller has said that he is ‘so disappointed’ with British Airways after the airline cancelled his flight from Miami to London, resulting in him missing a client meeting.
David Tibbles, a 52-year-old IT product manager who is based in Hertfordshire, told the PA news agency that he checked in at 5pm EST on Thursday for his flight from Miami International Airport to London Heathrow on March 31 at 5pm EST, but was informed by email four and a half hours later that his flight had been cancelled.
‘I had a call to ask about alternates and was offered no assistance at all, then (had) a six-hour web chat with them and again no alternative or no upgrade’, he said.
‘I have an additional five hour journey, have to get to an alternate airport (Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport) for a flight at 14:26 EST (on March 31) and I have had to cancel a client meeting.
‘I am a seasoned traveller and will go with the flow but so disappointed with BA how can they switch departure airports.’
Strikes will take place across ten days which intersect the Easter Holiday
Security guard members of the Unite union on the picket line at Heathrow Airport, London
Easter getaway traffic queues on the A102M Blackwall Tunnel approach in Greenwich in South East London
He added that the airline swapped him from his previous flight to his new flight for free and he has been ‘up most of the night but there is no better solution’.
Flights affected include routes to Aberdeen, Belfast City, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester and Newcastle.
There are cancellations to European destinations like Nice, Amsterdam, Stockholm and Zurich – and flights to American cities like New York, Chicago and Washington DC are also affected.
Heathrow’s chief executive John Holland-Kaye earlier insisted that the airport was ‘operating as normal’.
Speaking on Sky News, he said: ‘I’m here in Terminal Five which is the only terminal that voted for strike action and you’ll see it’s operating as normal.
‘We have a lot of colleagues who have come to help us out today – both security officers and managers who are helping out in their purple shirts like me.’
However, Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel, said: ‘Security strikes at Heathrow will be deeply concerning to travellers this Easter, with some airlines already forced to cancel flights as a result.
‘It’s essential Heathrow is prepared for the passengers whose flights will go ahead, and that no traveller misses their flight due to long lines at security and is left out of pocket.
‘Anyone yet to book their holiday may want to consider alternative airports.
‘French air traffic control strikes are also threatening wider chaos for travellers.
‘Airlines should ensure they keep passengers informed of any potential changes to their booking as result of strike action as early as possible, and must not fail in their legal responsibility to offer travellers a refund or the option to be rebooked if their flight is cancelled, including with other airlines if necessary.’
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: ‘Heathrow can afford to pay a decent pay rise to its workers.
‘This is a wealthy company which is about to return to bumper profits.
In recent years it’s approved an astronomical rise in salary for its chief executive and paid out dividends to shareholders worth billions.
‘Yet somehow, Heathrow executives seem to think it’s acceptable to offer what amounts to a real-terms pay cut to its security guards and ground staff who are already on poverty pay.
‘Unite has a laser-like focus on our members jobs, pay and conditions, the workforce at Heathrow Airport will receive the union’s unswerving support in this fight for a decent deal.’
Unite regional co-ordinating officer Wayne King said those who have gone on strike at Heathrow Airport have not been given a pay increase that reflects the cost of living despite having ‘an exceptionally wealthy employer’.
He told LBC: ‘At the moment they’ve offered 10 per cent which in normal times would be a more than reasonable pay offer, but we’re not in normal times and haven’t been for some time.’
Mr King said the workers ‘just can’t afford it’.
He added: ‘People are missing mortgage payments. They’re asking to defer rent payments.
‘They’re not able to feed their families.
‘They need more money. They just can’t survive on the money that they’re getting.’
Picket lines will be in place across the airport throughout the 10 days of continuous strike action, which ends at 23.59pm on Easter Sunday, April 10.
The strikes involves security officers at Terminal Five, which is used exclusively by British Airways, and campus security guards who are responsible for checking all cargo that enters the airport.
Unite said the strikes will cause disruption to flights, however Heathrow said it has contingency plans to deal with the industrial action.
A Heathrow spokesperson said: ‘Due to a number of issues including the Heathrow Airport strike, continued French Air Traffic Control industrial action and bad weather, we’ve been forced to make a small number of adjustments to our schedule. We’re sorry for the disruption to our customers’ travel plans.
‘The vast majority of our flights continue to operate as planned and we’re in contact with affected customers to inform them of their rights and offer them options including a full refund or rebooking onto an alternative flight.’
Heathrow said that as at any busy time, it may take a little longer than usual to get through security during the strikes.
‘Passengers can help us ensure they get the best start to their journeys by checking their flight status with their airline before travelling to the airport, arriving at Heathrow no earlier than two hours before short haul flights and three hours before long haul flights and by being ready for security with their compliant liquids and electronics out of their hand luggage,’ it said in a statement.
Traffic is expected to be huge over the Easter Holidays with the AA estimating that millions of Brits will use their cars over the weekend.
Bank holiday traffic will peak on Saturday with around 15 million of Britain’s drivers planning to use their cars on April 8.
Meanwhile one in seven people will use their car on Easter Sunday.