August 29, 2012 Possible strike at Lufthansa?
Today talks between Lufthansa and their cabin crew union broke down. The union gave notice to its members to prepare for a series of surprise strikes. The issues are the crews pay raise; they want 5% Lufthansa only wants to pay 3.5% and the number of contract workers. The issue of pay isn’t a huge concern the issue of contract workers is. Lufthansa largely without notice in the U.S. outsourced large portions of Austrian Airlines operations. It seems like Austrian Airlines has become a shell corporation with limited in-house operations. Even parts of Austrian’s long haul operations are operated by contract carriers. Just imagine the uproar if United Airlines hired SkyWest to fly 747s to Tokyo, United’s employees would be livid. Clearly Lufthansa’s cabin crews see the same in their future.
Lufthansa isn’t known for their dicey labor relations. When I think of European Airlines with bad labor relations I think of Alitalia and British Airways. Lufthansa has been seen as typically German, quiet, reliable and professional. It’s that opinion of Lufthansa that is threatened by this labor action. If you’re traveling on Lufthansa there are a couple of things you can do to mitigate any potential travel interruptions. The best thing a traveler can do is be pro-active in monitoring their reservation(s). Accurate operations information will on Lufthansa.com. Travelers should be in the habit checking the airline’s website anyways, but with potential strikes it will be even more import to monitor the website. In the event of a strike, the alternate travel plans have to be considered. For those traveling within Germany this will be difficult as there are limited options for purely domestic travel. Travel within Europe and intercontinental travel is easier as Lufthansa can push the ticket to another airline.
What to do if you end up stuck in a strike. First, remain calm. Screaming at airline staff will not impress staff. The airport is likely to be crowded with travelers who all need to get to their destinations. Next, before talking to an agent, it is best to already have alternative routings to make the agent’s job easier. Finally, be as flexible as possible. Never, book the last possible flight. If you have to be on that flight then you needed to book a different flight to begin with.
All of these tips can apply to any disruption, weather, mechanical, stupid, or otherwise. By taking a few simple steps any traveler can mitigate disruptions and have a reasonably smooth travel experience.