Have you just heard that your itinerary may be affected or cancelled due to a strike? Are you trying to find out what is the optimal way to react in order to save money and time? This post summarizes some points and guidelines that could help you find your way through and not disrupt your travel plans.
The reality is that there is no golden rule on how to deal with a strike. The reason is that a strike does not necessarily mean that all ferries are cancelled. Some operators might wait until the last minute before announcing a cancellation, while other operators might try to reschedule their itineraries and “bypass” the strike, either by pushing them on the 23:59 on the day before, or by performing only a segment of the scheduled itinerary. Abstractly, we have the following three circumstances that we are trying to deal with.
Ferry cancellation due to a strike (level: easy)
In this occasion, and following an official announcement of the cancellation by the operator, we are proceeding to a full refund of the trip cost to our customers. If passengers wish to travel on the previous or following day, they have to modify their tickets and they can do it without any extra cost at the collaborating local agency or in our offices.
However, keep in mind that the current regulation regarding ferry tickets and cancellations creates the following complication; if a customer has already collected the paper coupons for this trip, these should be returned to us in order proceed with the cancellation & refund. For this reason, by the time a strike becomes announced (or even discussed as a possibility), we send an email to our customers, suggesting them not to collect their paper coupons until their travel dates, hence allowing more flexibility for the refund process.
Schedule modification due to a strike (level: moderate)
In this case, the modification is usually announced a couple of days before, and passengers who want to travel can do so without any modification of their booking whatsoever. Since these modifications fall outside the time limitations that the operators’ policies dictate though, passengers are also entitled to a full refund, in case they prefer to cancel their tickets. It is important to note that the aforementioned implication regarding paper coupons still applies to this case.
No official announcement on behalf of the operator (level: hard)
This is the most difficult case to deal with, both for passengers and for us. The reason being, since the operator is not willing to cancel the itinerary, we are not legally allowed to proceed with a full refund. Eventually, the most probable scenario is that the company will be forced to make this announcement on the day of the strike, but this leaves passengers with almost zero alternative options, especially if they are on a tight travel schedule.
How to deal with ferry strikes in Greece?
On our side, the first thing that we can do is try to inform our customers of the upcoming strike via targeted e-mails and lay down the options that they have beforehand, in order to allow them some flexibility and make their lives easier. Generally, our guidelines are:
1. Avoid collecting your paper coupons until the day of departure. Even though you are eligible for 100% refund, coupons should be returned to the company or to the agency that issued the tickets in order for the passenger to be compensated.
2. If you learn about a possible strike contact Ferryhopper or the ferry company (or the agency that issued your tickets) as soon as possible, and begin examining the possibility of modifying your travel arrangements accordingly. Especially if you have corresponding flights or non-refundable accommodation arrangements, this plan may save you a lot of money, time and stress.
3. If you have the option of changing your travel dates, it is advisable to search for an itinerary on the day before the strike, as itineraries on the days following the strike might also be affected by the general re-scheduling.