Topic of the Week: How Do You Feel About Strikes?


Lufthansa pilots spent much of this week striking. Air France pilots have done that a lot this year as well. Regardless of how you feel about the strike itself, how do you feel about it from a passenger perspective? Are you less likely to book with Lufthansa and Air France in the future because of this? Or does it not really matter?

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38 comments on “Topic of the Week: How Do You Feel About Strikes?

  1. Since I mostly fly for leisure, at this time, I would probably NOT fly any European airline. I just have a weird gut feeling that if I’m planning a major trip to Europe, then I better go with who and what I know. As much as I would love the service on an European airline compared to a US one, spending so much money upfront just to hope they are not on strike when I go if enough to convince me. I know US airlines have a tendency every now and then to strike, but my perception is that I see that European airlines are in the media every day with some form of labor disagreement.

    1. It generally isn’t LEGAL for airlines in the states to strike, because of an outdated piece of legislation from the late 1920’s. Fun fact.

      “The Railway Labor Act is a United States federal law that governs labor relations in the railroad and airline industries. The Act, passed in 1926 and amended in 1934 and 1936, seeks to substitute bargaining, arbitration and mediation for strikes as a means of resolving labor disputes.”

      1. well binding arbitration is great only if the union gets what they wanted if not then it was an “Unfair labor practice”

  2. I missed my transit via FRA to Seoul. Went on Turkish instead. Not the end of the world, but until these strikes stop, it’s going to be hard to book on LH. I’ll be sticking to other members of Star.

  3. I laughed when I saw a signing in FRA for Lufthansa’s app because the three icons causing flight delayers were a storm cloud, a wrench, and a strike sign. A week later my flight was cancelled due to a strike. I didn’t mind because I got to tour Frankfurt, Germany for 23 hours. Lufthansa is still my favorite airline because once on board, the experience is superb. It’s just a little nerve racking waiting to see if your flight will be cancelled. Once it was, I was able to make alternate arrangements and relax.

  4. No country should permit transit workers to strike, it just effects to many people needlessly.

    1. I am curious – which category of workers would you allow to strike?

      I have definitely booked away from LH or Deutsche Bahn (they have had several strikes in recent years, too).

    2. Strikes are just a localized form of protests. The point of strikes and most protests is to cause others pain so that leadership will change their actions, possibly with the pressure put on them by those who are affected by the strike/protest.

  5. During the October strike I was stuck in Munich and was not pleased. They wouldn’t let me stay at my point of departure (Luxembourg) because the LUX-MUC flight was operated by LuxAir, so I had to fly to Munich where I needed a hotel instead of staying in Luxembourg where I could stay with friends. Of course the LH agents assured me they would reimburse me for the hotel. Here we are over a month later and they still haven’t done a thing to make good on that promise despite being prodded (I need to convince the company to use Cranky Concierge!).

    I’ve flown the DEN-FRA (or FRA-DEN) route 7 times this year (I was supposed to fly LUX-MUC-ORD-DEN on that one but ended up LUX-MUC-FRA-DEN, go figure). I leave tomorrow for another trip and guess what… I’m not flying LH. In fact I’ve gotten an override to corporate policy that lets our international travelers book other airlines even if they cost more to avoid LH (and we added AF last week to that policy). Strikes cost the company time and money with our people being out of place for work… so I’m on UA operated flight. Might be a step down in onboard product, but at least I actually will end up onboard.

    I understand why the pilots are striking, but in the end they are driving business away from LH (and AF) because business travelers are not going to be left in the lurch if there is another option.

  6. The strikes are a symptom of the root cause – the insane way the system for paying (pilots especially) works. It would be nice if airlines could fix that.

    1. So I’m curious why you think the current system is insane and what you would replace it with if you had the power to do so?

  7. I’m ok with strikes. Employees need some way to pressure a fair deal. As a passenger and frequent traveler, the burden is on me to be aware of what is going on in the airline industry. Usually there are viable alternatives in competitive markets. All my travel is domestic. From Long Beach I have a choice of three easy to reach airports (LAX, LGB, SNA) and two not so easy (ONT, BUR).

    1. Good to know you are OK with strikes, to pressure for a fair deal…ever hear the unions say “they were not negotiating in good faith”…translation ( they didn’t roll over and give us what we wanted) Everyone wants to make more money for less work ( well unionize people do) but the end result generally means higher cost to the consumer or a reduction int he product quality.

      1. It depends on the reason for the strike.
        You cannot say that all strikes are about more money.

        Sometimes it is about fairness.

  8. While having travel plans interrupted stinks, the airline pilots and other airline workers are just fighting for their careers and livelihoods when they strike. Thank goodness there is still a place in the world where worker voices are still heard.
    I may not be a big fan of flying LH but it’s got nothing to do with strike potential. It has more to do with an awfully uncomfortable Y Cabin and a mediocre C product. These are a result of management decisions.

  9. When traveling, one should try to embrace the local culture e.g. stores closed mid-day, local holidays and yes, strikes. Strikes in Europe are usually announced well in advance. Roll with it when possible, as the strikes usually don’t last long. If the tour buses are on strike from 1 – 4pm, try sitting at a sidewalk cafe and people watch or go to a museum, instead.

  10. I don’t think these strikes are very productive for the pilots or other workgroups. What they are really fighting against is forces that are bigger than the companies they work for – the onslaught of LCCs and of the big middle eastern carriers – Emirates, Etihad, Qatar and Turkish – who have significant cost advantages. The likes of LH & AF need to adapt to the changed economics or they will shrink away. You would think the LH pilots would understand that since they presumably have board representation under German labor law. So they are in fact harming their company further, and it’s unlikely to give them any long-term benefit.

    If what was canceled was a flight within Germany, LH lets you substitute a DB train ride, and since DB has excellent, frequent, high speed trains, that inconvenience is relatively minimal, once you get your train voucher. But for long haul or international travel it is a pain. I found LH to be understaffed on their phones when my flight was canceled on Dec 1, and the website wouldn’t work to print out a train voucher. Eventually I made a redundant trip to the airport to get a train voucher.

    With the significant stake that employees, especially pilots, have in the well-being of their companies, I wish they would find a way to negotiate to resolution without strikes like this which create inconvenience and expense for innocent customers and also hurt the wellbeing of their own job security and pensions.

  11. The EU crowd has too many strikes pilots/teachers/farmers/meat packers/u name it someone is always on strike over there–dores it help esp in france??? as most idustry is highly government regulated just like their socialized healthcare system…

  12. As long as we have narcissistic out of touch management such as Doug Steenland, Don Carty, Frank Lorenzo, and now DUI Dug, there will always be strife and strikes. DUI Dug is now reducing currently largest airline in the world to a hollowed out shell.

    1. Doug Parker is attempting to give many of the AA and US employees raises… I can see little details that union members are unhappy with, but management can’t fix everything.

        1. it is the business goal to make money, save money, and put out a better product. Do you got to a Sam’s Club, BJ’s or a Costco to save money rather than the local shop rite? They airlines have the same right. I love it when the employess tell you how to run your cmpany, how to pay the employees, and that you are not entitled to make a bigger profit.

          1. And yet the global financial crisis was not caused by employees.

            In many cases management is the reason for low and no profitability, and the companies concerned may have been better off listening to employees.

            Finally, I might point out that top management often pay themselves whatever they want, so it is a bit hypocritical of them to be critical of others wanting the same.

            I thought the concept of some people having more rights than others was settled in 1788 in the USA.

  13. The Air France strike of September turned me off. Being on a biz trip in Europe and initially not knowing about how to get home is a real turn off. I’ll vote with my experience when booking options come up next time.

    My saving grace was an alliance airline to rebook no charge.

  14. Earlier this year my sister and friends planned a trip thru France from LAX. The flight was LAX to Orly when the pilot strike hit the following day. In Paris with limited AIr France info at their desk, hotel, and on the internet with more flights (cancelled) to other French cities. Luckily those flights were replaced by rail at additional costs. Then back at Paris going home was very iffy on Air France. The group decided to take a local alliance flight to another country then fly to LAX with an additional stop on the east coast. I tried to email flight info as soon as Air France would commit (typically 24-48 hours earlier).

    Luckily my sister opted for Travel Insurance. The AIr France claim required a knowledge of traval terms written in French. The Travel insurance came through quickly after a few phone calls.

    Politically the Air France strike was about a subsidiary carrier and less wages for those pilots. None of which does a traveler care about when they feel stranded.

  15. Since any person who strikes is more concerned about themselves (or the union) than the passenger or end user, I would not fly them or trust them. Would not want to be in the middle of a pleasure trip and get stranded due to a work stoppage.

  16. All of the anti-union vitriol on this comment board is ridiculous and misplaced. Pilots and flight attendants quite literally have the lives and safety of dozens (or hundreds) of folks in their hands. The pilots who are striking have extremely specialized skills that aren’t commonly found in your average Jane / Joe. Also, it should be noted that the pilots aren’t striking to ask for more benefits or higher pay, it’s to protest against LH management’s proposal to raise the retirement age 6 years. Try asking 65 year old US citizens to wait until they are 71 to receive Medicare, and maybe you’ll have an idea of ‘what the big deal is’.

    – Socialist, Unionist Alex

    1. The issue is NOT the retirement age, but early retirement…big difference. Right now, a LH pilot can take early retirement at 55 and still collect 60% of their salary. This is based on an EU rule that mandated retirement for pilots at 60. Several years ago, the EU upped that mandatory retirement age to 65. LH wants to up the early retirement age from 55 to 61. So your example of waiting until 71 to collect benefits is just rhetoric…it doesn’t fit the situation at all.

      1. Meh, still seems like the company is going a bit far. It would’ve been much more rationale an reasonable if they asked for the early retirement age to go to 60, perhaps grandfathering people who are older than 50 at the time of the change.

        Since the company is asking for a 6 year change when the government only made a 5 year change, they’re pushing it..

        1. And of course it is worth inconveniencing tens of thousands of customers and damaging the company to make this point.

          1. The company apparently thinks it is worth it to them, or they wouldn’t have let it get to this point…

            1. They offered the grandfathering. The 61 early retirement age would only apply to new hires. All current pilots would still be able to take early retirement at 55.

  17. I got stuck in Lisbon on Dec 2nd by LYF. l got a free night at the Marriott as well as Dinner and Cab fare. I have no respect for the Pilots. What they did and are doing to the people who pay their salary is criminal. The LIS airport was a ZOO! Families with children, folks with dogs. The ground staff working to reroute the passengers were great, but with a impossible task, all because of the “Childish” pilots. I will NOT book LYF again. The Airline should sue the Pilot’s Union to recover the cost of this nonsense.

  18. I’m going to be a bit more explicit here:

    I support any employee’s right to a legal strike.

    Power and influence is so unbalanced in our society any leverage individuals can use on their own or collectively to push back against power is a good.

    That being said, employees can be stupid and ultimately work against their ultimate interests. (See Eastern as an example. Management and Labor took that airline down together.)

  19. I think labor should be able to strike… but management should be able to then fire all the labor and replace them with people willing to work. That means it’s a true risk of leverage: who needs who more. Due to the pilot shortage (though I don’t know if that’s worldwide or just in the US), the pilots just may have the leverage.

    1. TRC, at least in the US management can and has fired labor under certain circumstances. See Northwest and their mechanics and Alaska and their ramp workers at SeaTac airport.

      Sent from my computer that moonlights as a phone. Please forgive any misspellings or terseness.


  20. I am one of those greedy pilots who work for the airlines. While my income – adjust for inflation – has declined more than 30% in the last 15 years, our management has seen a 300% increase in pay. I have seen my benefits slashed while management has seen almost limitless increases. Due to seniority based systems, I am permanently “married” to my company while management is free to move from company to company in search of better pay. While it is in my best interest to see my company thrive, I refuse to continue to allow upper management to steal my paycheck to pay for their ultra luxurious lifestyle. Any buffoon can come in and cut pay and benefits to save a buck (aka Lorenzo – Smisek). It takes a true leader and manager to actually make an operation more efficient and profitable (Bethune). It’s unfortunate but the Railway Labor Act forces us to choose between allowing management to continue to attack our profession to support their obscene pay or giving our customers the service they deserve. Removing the airlines from the Railway Labor Act is the only thing that will start to fix this. Right now labor has very little leverage to use against management – hence the 4+ years it takes to negotiate a contract. I truly appreciate each and every customer on my flights. I refuse to perform a job I spent over $200,000 to obtain for minimal wage.

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