Travel agents across Scotland will be “ready to assist” clients and passengers in the event of British Airways pilots taking strike action this summer.
Ken McLeod, president of the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA), said it was in adverse times the value of booking with a travel agent became most apparent.
Hundreds of BA pilots could walk out in the coming months after members of pilots union Balpa voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action in a dispute over pay.
BA on Wednesday (31 July) failed in its bid to have Balpa’s strike ballot annulled on a technicality. Balpa is yet to announce strike dates and has convened with BA at government conciliation service Acas in a last-ditch attempt to find a resolution by the end of the week.
Balpa will be required to give 14 days’ notice of any action, so if the union was to act on its ballot later this week, the likely earliest date it could call strikes would be 17 August.
“There’s still time for this dispute to be resolved and we hope a resolution can be achieved, not least because in the summer months up to 154,00 BA passengers a day could be affected,” said McLeod.
“SPAA members across Scotland will be ready to assist as far as they can with their clients’ travel plans, and this remains undoubtedly one of the key advantages of using a travel agent.
“Travel itineraries are becoming more complex. If one step of the logistical process fails, such as an airline strike, and you have booked your whole trip independently without the help of an agent, then unfortunately, you’ll be on your own in terms of resolving this and the next steps of your trip may be in jeopardy.”
McLeod said SPAA members had a strong track record in recent years of assisting with various issues, such as airline failures and poor weather affecting travel, and succeeding in getting their clients where they need to be.
“Whether these incidents happen on the way to your destination or on your way back, a travel agent is your number one ally and premium problem solver,” McLeod added.
“A travel agent may have access, directly or via their tour operator, to airline booking systems which allows the ability to amend, change or cancel bookings.
“Anyone who has booked directly with BA or via other online resources may be in for a difficult time if the strikes go ahead. We know from experience that, if you are a consumer, getting in touch directly with an airline in times of ‘crisis’ can be very challenging.”