The key dates for when Europe travel will be disrupted in 2023


Editors note: This page will be updated as new information emerges.

The summer travel season is upon us. We’re hopeful that your travel will be event-free in most scenarios, but there are a number of strikes to look out for across Europe that particularly affect the travel sector.

If you are traveling on these dates and need further advice, check out our guide to insurance policies and strike coverage. Additionally, find out what you may be entitled to by way of compensation if your flight is delayed or otherwise affected.

Here are the strikes in Europe to look out for when you book.

UK rail strikes

When: May 31 and June 2-3

Train drivers from two separate unions will stage three days of walkouts across the United Kingdom.

First, on May 31, members of the union Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen will begin a 24-hour strike, with plans to also strike on Saturday, June 3.

Additionally, around 20,000 members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers plan to strike on Friday, June 2.

The strikes will involve both onboard crew and station staff. Although some services will be disrupted, trains will still operate.

Here’s where to expect disruption:

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Heathrow Express

  • May 31: One train will run every hour between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
  • June 3: No service.

Stansted Express

  • May 31: Trains will run every 40 minutes from 4:40 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.
  • June 1: Many services will not be available.
  • June 2: Two trains will run every hour from 7:11 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.
  • June 3: Services will run every 30 minutes from 4:40 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.

Gatwick Express

  • May 31 and June 3: No service.
  • June 2: Southern or Thameslink trains should be available.

Avanti West Coast

  • May 31 and June 3: No services will be available.
  • June 2: Trains will run reduced hours.
  • June 1 and June 4: Expect timetable changes.

Chiltern Railways

  • May 31 and June 3: No service.
  • June 1: Expect timetable changes.
  • June 2: Expect extremely limited service.

CrossCountry

  • May 31 and June 3: No service.
  • June 2: Expect limited service.

East Midlands Railway

  • May 31 and June 3: No service.
  • June 1: Expect last-minute cancellations.
  • June 2: Reduced service from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Great Northern

  • May 31 and June 3: No service.
  • June 1: Expect service to be affected.
  • June 2: Reduced hours and limited service.
  • June 4: Expect timetable changes, particularly affecting early service.

Great Western Railway

  • May 31 and June 2-3: Limited service.
  • June 1 and 4: Schedule changes to late and early service.

Greater Anglia

  • May 31: Reduced service.
  • June 1: Expect cancellations.
  • June 2: Trains will only run from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • June 3: Reduced service on most routes and no service between Cambridge and Liverpool Street.

LNER

  • May 31 and June 2-3: Reduced service.
  • June 1: Expect cancellations.

Northern

  • May 31 and June 3: No service.
  • June 2: Limited service and no replacement bus service.

South Western Railway

  • May 31 and June 3: Reduced service.
  • June 1: Expect cancellations.
  • June 2: Reduced service.

Southeastern

  • May 31 and June 3: No train or replacement bus service.
  • June 2: Most stations closed with no replacement bus service.

Southern

  • May 31 and June 3: No service.
  • June 2: Limited service.
  • June 4: Fewer services available.

Thameslink

  • May 31 and June 3: No service.
  • June 1: Expect some services to be affected.
  • June 2: Limited service and reduced hours.
  • June 4: Limited service.

Heathrow Airport strikes

London’s Heathrow Airport. STOCKINASIA/GETTY IMAGES

When: To be determined

Members of the Unite union, employed as security officers at Terminal 3 of London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR), have voted to strike over pay disputes. The union has not set a strike date yet. It’s speculated that workers in Terminal 5 will join the strike. If workers in both terminals strike, expect serious disruption.

Heathrow’s website informs passengers that, while the airport will remain open on strike days, “the strikes may affect the journeys of some passengers planning to travel during this period.”

It recommends checking your flight status with your airline for the latest information, adding: “On strike days, passengers will only be allowed to bring two items of hand baggage (carry-on baggage) through security. Handbags and laptop bags count as a piece of hand baggage. Your checked-in luggage allowance remains as advertised by your airline.”

Italy transport strikes

When: June 4

Travel in Italy will be disrupted June 4 due to a 24-hour ground-handling strike at airports. Under Italian law, flights departing from 7 to 10 a.m. and from 6 to 9 p.m. are protected from the action.

Spain pilot strike

A Delta Air Lines Airbus A330-300 takes off in Barcelona. SHUTTERSTOCK

When: June 1 and 2

Pilots working for Air Europa have planned strikes in early June, organized by the Spanish Airline Pilots Union. Strikes could also affect some pilots working for Ryanair and EasyJet later this summer.

France air traffic control strikes

SATIT SRIHIN/GETTY IMAGES

When: Ongoing until at least June 1

These strikes could potentially affect more travelers than any other because air traffic control strikes affect planes landing in and departing from the country where they’re happening, as well as planes using its airspace.

In particular, around 65% of EasyJet flights use France’s airspace to reach their final destination, meaning any of those could be disrupted if French air traffic controllers strike.

Recent walkouts reportedly led to 30% of flights being canceled across the country when French American Tower Corporation workers walked out March 6-9, affecting tens of thousands of passengers.

Related: The best credit cards that offer trip cancellation and interruption insurance

While no dates are set for the summer yet, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said in January that the French ATC strikes risked “shutting everybody down” if the dispute over pay and recruitment levels bleeds into summer.

His comments came as Europe’s air traffic manager, Eurocontrol, warned of potentially “huge challenges” to the commercial aviation network this summer, citing “a backdrop of supply chain issues, possible industrial action, airspace unavailability, sector bottlenecks, rising demand and system changes.”

It said 2023 is “set to be the most challenging year of the last decade. Keeping summer delays down will be an immense task.”

Bottom line

One thing worth remembering when it comes to strikes is that nothing is certain. It’s possible that unions and employers will reach a deal.

However, the economic crisis is making things difficult for everyone — from workers struggling through the deepening cost-of-living crisis to travel companies desperate to appease shareholders during a ravaging pandemic. As we gear up for an even busier year than last year, those pressures on both sides of the fence seem unlikely to evaporate anytime soon.

The chances of more strikes this year are high across the travel sector, which could result in thousands of cancellations and lengthy delays.

Keep an eye on these dates, and plan accordingly.

Related: You are entitled to a refund for your canceled flight — even if the airline says you aren’t

Additional reporting by Matt Blake.

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