Airport Booking Strategy

French Airline and Rail Strikes Could Disrupt Travel for Months

It’s travel strike season in France once again. Travelers visiting or traveling through France over the next several weeks should prepare for the possibility of significant air and rail travel disruptions due to a series of planned travel strikes that have cut 30 percent of flights at major airports, and could cancel train departures for months.

French Travel Strike by Air

For starters, air traffic controllers launched a travel strike that will last through Friday. French authorities have cut flights by a third at most of the country’s main airports, including Paris’s Charles de Gaulle and Orly, as well as Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes and Toulouse airports.

Authorities plan to reduce the amount of traffic allowed to fly through French airspace. French air traffic controllers guide these flights, of course, so a strike affects the system’s ability to do so. This can lead to the delay or cancellation of flights that don’t even begin or end in France, particularly flights between northern Europe and the Mediterranean and Switzerland.

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Not to be outdone, several Air France staff unions are expected to strike this week as well, starting on Friday once the aforementioned air traffic debacle is scheduled to end. The impact of this travel strike is unknown, but travelers are already able to rebook without fees if they want.

French Travel Strike by Land

Last but not least, rail workers are planning the same, and it could go on for months. Staff at SNCF, the national rail operator, are planning to strike from Wednesday through Friday, and workers for the public transport system in Paris are also likely to stop work on Thursday. SCNF’s travel strike will affect travel into France from other countries—Eurostar, which operates trains from London to Paris, has already cancelled several departures this week. According to the Independent: “The rail workers’ stoppage presages a series of rolling two-day strikes which begin just after Easter, on 3 April, and continue until 28 June.”

Bottom line: If you’re visiting France this week, double-check every travel reservation you have, right up to your departure time. These strikes will result in a fluid situation on the ground, with delays and cancellations popping up as operators cope with the worker shortage. On the positive side, it sounds like the worst of the disruptions will end this weekend, though further actions are always possible.

Readers, do you have plans to visit France in the next several weeks? Have you ever been left high and dry by a strike?

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By Carl Unger

Contributing Editor Carl Unger believes that every trip is worth taking. He loves an extended trip to Europe as much as he enjoys exploring the towns and landscape near home. Basically, you'll find him wherever there is good food, fresh air, and plenty of stories to bring home.

Carl has been writing for SmarterTravel since 2005. His travel writing has also appeared on USA Today and the Boston travel guide.

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