The British Airways strike next month is to cause at least five consecutive days of flight cancellations.
BA pilots announced three days of strikes – taking place on 9, 10 and 27 September – in a dispute over pay.
Despite the first strikes being on 9 and 10 September, some customers flying between the 8th and 12th have been told their flight has been cancelled – and to rebook or get a refund.
One customer told the BBC their flight on 25 September had been cancelled.
Many people have said they have been unable to get through to BA to make alternative arrangements.
BA says it carries 145,000 customers every day – with a fleet of more than 280 aircraft – and a BA plane takes off from somewhere in the world every 90 seconds.
BA said in a statement: “We are doing absolutely everything we can to prevent this unfair action from taking place and ruining our customers’ travel plans.
“Airlines have a very complex operation and during times of widespread disruption, there can be knock-on effects onto flights on other days.”
Customers have reported receiving emails late on Friday night and in the early hours of Saturday morning informing them their flight had been cancelled.
Many have taken to social media to complain that they have been unable to rebook via the website or get through on BA’s phone lines.
Abby Deem, 32, from Cambridge said her honeymoon plans had been “ruined” after her business class flight to Mauritius on 9 September was cancelled.
“We’ve been looking forward to this flight for a year,” she said.
“Neither of us have ever had the luxury to travel business class, and after the wedding it seemed the perfect way to start our honeymoon.”
She said she felt sick when her fiance Jonathan got a text to say the flight had been cancelled.
They have now booked economy flights with Emirates and they estimate it will cost them an extra £500.
Jennifer Bond, from Manchester, was due to fly to Las Vegas with her fiance Simon to get married but their flights to and from Las Vegas (11 and 25 September) have been cancelled.
She said: “Nearly two years of saving up and budgeting relentlessly and this happens three weeks before we fly.”
It was “impossible” to get through to BA on the phone, she added, so they have booked new flights with Virgin – costing £700 more than their original flights.
“We’re now out of pocket and the time to process a refund is four weeks,” she said. “It’s disgraceful.”
Another customer, Anna Redding, was scheduled to fly to Nairobi with her partner for their honeymoon on 11 September and return on 27 September – when the final strike is scheduled to take place.
They received an email saying their outward flight had been cancelled, and their return flight had been delayed.
She said they had also saved up to upgrade to first class flights as it was a “once in a lifetime” holiday.
They have been unable to get through to BA on the phone and she said the advice is unclear, adding: “Do we try to get another flight with someone else but lose the first class or do we wait just in case but risk not getting any other flights?”
The company’s Twitter feed was inundated with messages from frustrated customers, with some saying their cancelled flights were still on sale.
In response to one customer, BA said some flights before and after the strike were “still subject to disruption due to operational reasons, including crew rostering and positioning of aircraft”.
Travel expert Simon Calder explained it had turned into five successive days of cancellations because BA would not send a flight to, for example, Hong Kong, if a pilot was going to go on strike the next day.
He also said BA has to find customers “an alternative flight on the same day if it possibly can, even if it means buying you a ticket on another airline”.
If you are delayed overnight, he said BA has to pay for a hotel and meals.
He added: “The worst thing you can do is take a full refund because then you will be buying another ticket yourself and that could well cost more.”
The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) said on Friday the strikes were a “last resort” born out of “enormous frustration” with airline management.
Pilots have rejected a pay increase worth 11.5% over three years, which the airline put forward in July.
What can I claim if my flight has been affected by the strikes?
If your flight has been cancelled because airline staff are striking, the the Civil Aviation Authority said, then this would be considered within the airline’s control, and therefore you have a legal right to either:
- A full refund, and this includes flights in the same journey that might be from a different airline (for example, an onward or return flight)
- A replacement flight to get to your destination
- Or, if you are part way through your journey and don’t want a replacement flight, you are entitled to a flight back to the airport you originally departed from
In some cases, passengers may be entitled to additional cash compensation for the inconvenience – but only if you receive notice that your flight is affected less than 14 days before departure.
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Former Blue Peter presenter John Leslie has denied sexually assaulting a woman 11 years ago.
Mr Leslie, 54, is accused of sexually touching the woman, then aged 30, without her consent in Westminster on 5 December 2008.
Judge Jeffrey Pedgen released Mr Leslie on unconditional bail after he pleaded not guilty at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday.
Mr Leslie, from Edinburgh, is due to stand trial in March 2020.
He presented BBC’s Blue Peter between 1989 and 1994 with co-hosts including Caron Keating, Tim Vincent, Anthea Turner and Diane-Louise Jordan.
Mr Leslie, whose full name is John Leslie Stott, then went on to present ITV’s This Morning and was also a regular host of the Wheel of Fortune game show.
The “most basic” safety recommendation made after the Marchioness disaster has yet to be implemented, the Port of London Authority (PLA) has said.
On 20 August 1989, 51 people died when the Thames riverboat sank after being struck by a dredger near Southwark in the early hours of the morning.
An inquiry into the disaster ordered historic vessels on tidal rivers be brought up to modern safety standards.
“It is high time this was acted on,” the PLA said.
A vigil was held beside the river on Monday evening to pay tribute to those who were killed in the tragedy.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has put forward safety proposals on boat buoyancy in historic vessels after a collision.
Modern vessels’ hulls are required to be divided into watertight compartments, so any flooding resulting from a breach can be more easily contained.
It has been claimed introducing these measures for historic boats that sail on the Thames – some of which were used in the Dunkirk evacuation of World War Two – could reduce seating and cost smaller commercial vessels revenue, forcing them off the river.
The Marchioness Disaster and its aftermath
- On 20 August 1989, 131 people were on board the Marchioness when it was hit by the dredger Bowbelle
- 51 people died
- Coroner Dr Paul Knapman decided to cut the hands off more than 20 victims for identification purposes
- A public inquiry held in 2000 said poor lookouts on both vessels were responsible for the collision
- The captain of the Bowbelle, Douglas Henderson, had drunk six pints of lager on the afternoon of the collision
- The Metropolitan Police were “ill-prepared” and had no contingency plan for such an event, the inquiry found
- January 2002, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution introduced four lifeboat stations on the River Thames.
The inquiry into the Marchioness disaster, held in 2000 with a report published in February 2001 by Lord Justice Clarke, made 30 river safety recommendations.
They were all accepted by John Prescott, the then deputy prime minister.
Requirements to introduce an air-traffic control style system to track vessels and flashing lights on bridges have since been introduced.
The section where the Marchioness disaster happened is still the most “incident-prone” today
Source: Port of London Authority (figures relate to tidal sections of Thames from London to Gravesend)
But some of the boats still operating on the Thames that have been in use on the river since the disaster of 1989 – and in some cases long before that – have not undergone the sort of changes experts would like to have seen.
“It is quite extraordinary that 30 years after Marchioness the most basic recommendation from that tragedy has never been implemented,” Robin Mortimer, the PLA’s chief executive said.
“These new standards may not have prevented the Marchioness disaster but you’ve got to decide if the safety recommendations are important enough.
“There’s a good evidence base that older vessels are more involved in serious incidents, so they should be up to modern standards.”
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But forcing historic boats “which have never had an accident” off the river would lead to closures of London’s boatyards, Conservative London Assembly Member Tony Arbour warned.
London’s two boatyards “spend their time repairing these historic boats”, Mr Arbour told the London Assembly recently.
“If they are unable to afford to carry out the works which are required by these proposals, we will lose those boatyards,” he said.
Tower Lifeboat Station is the busiest in the UK, with a lifeboat launched every nine hours on to the Thames according to the RNLI.
The campaign group Save London’s Passenger Boats, which is representing many of the operators of historic vessels running tours on the Thames, declined to comment.
On Monday, survivors and families of the victims joined a procession from Southwark Cathedral to Bankside where a short service was held.
Odette Penwarden, 72, who was onboard the Marchioness, said it felt “like going inside a washing machine” as “the boat started to tip over” and “water came rushing in”.
“I could feel myself losing consciousness, but I had an image of my mother and I decided I needed to get myself out,” she said.
Andrew Dennis, who lost his brother and four friends in the disaster, expressed his “disbelief” that boats and bridges on the river do not have more safety lights.
“You should be able to see all the arches of the bridges, all the outlines of the boats. That still riles me all these years later,” the 54-year-old said.
Dutch-owned firm Abellio has taken over the East Midlands rail franchise, promising £600m of investment.
It won the eight-year contract after Stagecoach was disqualified from bidding as it refused to take on pension liabilities.
Abellio, owned by the Dutch government-owned rail firm, has promised new trains, 165 new carriages, and improved infrastructure.
East Midlands Trains will now be called East Midlands Railway (EMR).
The rail franchise had been operated by Stagecoach since 2007.
The company – owned by the state-owned operator Nederlandse Spoorwegen – already operates five other rail franchises, including Scotrail and Greater Anglia services between Norwich and London.
Part of Abellio’s investment will include a complete overhaul of the rail stock, with new high-speed Hitachi intercity rail trains.
It said £400m would be spent on 33 five-carriage trains, which will include air conditioning, wi-fi and plug sockets for passengers.
The new intercity trains will begin serving cities and towns like Sheffield, Chesterfield, Derby, Leicester, London, and Lincoln by 2022.
Abellio managing director Dominic Booth said: “[The new trains] will respond to what our passengers have told us they want with more frequent services, faster journeys between the East Midlands and London, and provide more capacity.”
‘Believe it when I see it’
Vicky Henry travels from Nottingham to London about eight times a year.
She said: “I’ll believe [the investment] it when I see it. They always talk about investing money but the whole set-up of the network means any improvements come from the state, not the individual train operators.”
One daily commuter from Burton-upon-Trent to Nottingham said: “Recently there have been a lot of delays and cancellations so I’m not particularly happy with the service.
“The investment is certainly welcome, and hopefully the delays can be either stopped or reduced so the trains can run a bit better.”
Sophie Harrison frequently travels between Nottingham and Leicestershire.
The Nottingham Trent University student said: “New trains will make the railways more user-friendly, especially if there are more services.”
A bandstand where David Bowie played soon after the release of his first hit single Space Oddity has been protected with a Grade II listing.
The singer performed from the stand to a small audience in Croydon Road Recreation Ground on 16 August 1969.
The star, who died in 2016, is thought to have penned the lyrics to Life On Mars from its steps in London.
The 1905 bandstand is in Beckenham, where Bowie lived with Mary Finnigan, his landlady-turned-lover.
Soon after Space Oddity, Bowie and his friends organised the Growth Summer Festival.
The bandstand was the centrepiece of the one-day festival, which Bowie helped to organise, compere and perform at exactly 50 years ago.
The event was designed to raise money for a permanent base for his and Finnigan’s Beckenham Arts Lab project, which began life as a folk club in the backroom of the nearby Three Tuns pub.
It later inspired Bowie to write the seven-minute song, Memory Of A Free Festival.
Historic England’s chief executive Duncan Wilson said: “It is a rare survival from an historic iron foundry in its own right.
“But its significance as a site that inspired David Bowie shows us how powerful our historic places can be and how important it is that we protect them so they will continue to inspire people for years to come.”
The first bandstands in England were built in the Royal Horticultural Society Gardens in Kensington, west London, which opened in 1861.
The Beckenham bandstand, owned by Bromley Council, has been Grade II listed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on the advice of Historic England.
It is thought to be the only surviving example from the McCallum and Hope Iron Foundry in the country.
The festival, now in its 50th year and known as Bowie’s Beckenham Oddity, takes place on Saturday.