American Airlines Won’t Let Employees Fly From London Heathrow July 26-27

British Airways pilots are on the verge of striking. About 90% of the airline’s pilot’s union cast a ballot and more than 90% of those favored a strike. British Airways has wearhered multiple strikes over the past decade from cabin crew, and flown through those, but pilots can cripple an airline in a way flight attendants cannot. Replacement pilots, qualified to operate the airline’s aircraft, cannot simply be conjured up the way flight attendants can be.

BA is American Airlines’ closest partner. They coordinate schedules and share revenue across the Atlantic as part of an anti-trust immunized metal neutral joint venture. American sees British Airways hub London Heathrow as their hub too.

That’s going to all get ugly in a couple of weeks. In the meantime though the London airports themselves are facing an industrial action at the end of the week, and American has restricted employees from Heathrow travel July 26 and 27. In a message to employees, American says,

LHR non-rev and business travel restricted July 26-27

With the strong possibility of a strike by certain London Heathrow (LHR) airport personnel looming, we want to be sure our airport teams have the support they need to take care of our customers. That’s why non-rev and business travel (both on American and ZED/other airlines) departing from or connecting through LHR will be restricted July 26-27.

If LHR is your final destination, you are good to travel. While not restricted, we also encouage you to avoid non-rev travel through other European gateways as we will likely need to reaccommodate passengers through these cities, making for higher than normal loads.

Should the potential strike continue beyond these dates, we’ll provide additional guidance. THanks for your help setting up our airport teams for success as they navigate a potentially challenging time.

If American won’t let its employees take flights departing from Heathrow on those days, whether for business or personal (non-rev) travel, that’s a strong indication that you shouldn’t either. We’re starting to see airlines issuing travel waivers, United has one, so reconsider your plans accordingly.

Update: In case I was insufficiently clear it is shocking that American is banning their employees from flying out of Heathrow, but has not yet issued a waiver to allow customers to avoid doing so.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Per your headline, I wouldn’t read too much into AA not letting one employee fly on those days.

  2. Heathrow ground staff on strike 26/27 and other dates in August. Earliest BA strike can be 14 days post appeal court ruling. Appeal is due to be heard this Friday or Monday so the earliest strike can be is 9 or 12 August.

  3. Telling readers they should not go is just blog hype and scare tactics. Advising that company employees can’t fly business or space available for specific cities has been routine over the years, for extraordinary circumstances. It’s nothing new. The local airport staff is needed to take care of… paying customers (Imagine that) The non-rev standby lists can be long and extremely taxing diversion from The central focus of the staff. I am having trouble understanding how that translates into a warning for confirmed space customers to avoid it, unless AA is expected to have cancellations. If so, it was not reported in this blog post.

  4. @Amapas – the AA warning applies to company business, not just nonrev, and United has a travel waiver in place. I would avoid London airports on these dates.

  5. Business travel in the airline business is a broad term. For my company that can mean deadheading flight crew members to outlying stations. Or returning them stateside to fly another flight. I can easily see that AA doesn’t want any more stranded crew members than it needs to have in LHR.

  6. Gary,
    AA is looking to reduce additional load of non-rev and internal business, on seat availability and also the airport employees. This in turn would help the making more seats available for customers, and allow the airport employees focus on customers. That is good customer focus, and AA should be appreciated for doing that. But, you turned it into something else totally. Not right.

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