Just when you thought airlines couldn’t give customers any more grief this year, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have stopped selling new tickets.

Border Force Staff Strike

Specifically, all customers looking to purchase inbound flights to London’s Heathrow airport cannot do so because of an upcoming Christmas Border Force staff strike.

The BBC reports that as a heads up, Border Force has requested that all airports expect passenger numbers on strike days to be above 70-80% of 2019 levels to “suppress demand” and stop selling tickets.

This comes after the government denied 75% of Border Force’s union members a 2% pay raise increase. This rejection was followed by the union’s warning for airlines to suppress demand to wallow for better management of the flow of people through border control when workers execute the first walkout on Friday, 23 December.

All UK Airports Affected

According to a source at Heathrow airport, British Airlines and Virgin have taken heed to the Border Force warning and agreed to the restriction request considering around 1,000 Border Force staff who work in passport control will walk out on Dec 23-26th  and 28-31st.

Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester airports, and the Port of Newhaven will all be affected by the halt in ticket sales. The Home offices of these two British-based airlines have advised passengers not to fret.

Although the Home Offices are  “extremely disappointed” with the Border Force union’s decision to strike and acknowledge that this would cause a “significant inconvenience” to travelers over the Christmas period, they are confident that the show will go on.

Military Involved

London Heathrow Airport
Frank Augstein | AP

Those who have already purchased tickets can expect to see military personnel, civil servants, and volunteers checking their passports through the holidays so that most passengers can feel unaffected by the strike action.

“Those intending to travel into the UK over strike days should keep up-to-date with the latest advice from operators to check how the proposed strike action will affect their journey,” a spokesperson said.

“Our priority is to ensure passengers get through the border safely and as quickly as possible,” an airport spokesperson continued.

Adding, ”We are working closely with airlines and Border Force on mitigation plans…We encourage all parties to resolve this dispute quickly.”

According to the BBC, Virgin Atlantic restricts ticket sales only on the 23rd, 28th, 29th, and 30th of December. At the same time, British Airways has stopped selling inbound flights on all eight strike days mentioned above.

Both airlines have not commented on the ticket restrictions.