11: That Time AirFrance was on Strike
Updated: Sep 27
Howdy! Back in September of 2014ish my SO and I went to Paris. We flew from JFK (John F. Kennedy International Airport) in NYC to an airport in Moscow (which had zero signs in English/Spanish/French and where we could not find an English speaking employee! We caught our connecting flight by following a pack of blonde women from flight to flight.)(Sorry! Can't remember which airport we cut through. Moscow has 5 International Airports.) where we transferred and flew to DeGaulle Airport in France. DeGaulle was already on strike then but as we were arriving, that didn't really affect us. Sure, the airport was swarming with soldiers but I'm from NY and so is the LIRR (Long Island Railroad) ever since 9/11. No big deal.
Well, after a super fun week and a half in Paris, we were ready to fly home. We were scheduled for one of the earliest flights back that day and were heading out the same way we came, by which I mean, we anticipated transferring in Moscow. I say anticipated because that's not what happened.
The night before our flight, we let our concierge know about our early check out, and he hooked us up with a taxi to get us to the airport early. There was nobody at the airport. We checked all those big flight list screens for our flight and didn't see it. Employees trickled in. Cleaning staff first, and then some customer service personnel. We asked around to figure out why our flight isn't listed anywhere and were passed along from desk to desk, terminal to terminal, until finally an AirFrance employee informed us our flight was one of many that were cancelled. By now, we'd been there over an hour and a half and hadn't been able to so much as check our baggage in.
This agent sent us to yet another area for those whose flights had been cancelled. Somehow, we were the first people on line but during the half hour we stood there being actively assisted, that line lengthened quickly. Finally, after much typing an many phone calls, the agent assured us she could get us on a flight to Edinburgh Scotland and from there to New Jersey. It was the best she could do.
With new tickets, we raced through security and just caught the flight to Edinburgh. Upon landing, we learned there was no way possible for us to catch the connecting flight as it was leaving in 15 minutes and boarding had already begun. Customer service listened to our plight, made some ensuring the next plane wouldn't leave without us, and put us on another flight. This one went to London where we would transfer to JFK in NY. That trek went as planned and we arrived where our journey began. I think from leaving our hotel to arriving in JFK, a full 24 hours had passed because we got home late.
I hope the strikers succeeded and got AirFrance to meet their terms. Workers rights are human rights. I can’t blame them for demanding what they were owed. However, that whole day was stressful for us. We had regular jobs that we needed to return to and our bosses would've had very little sympathy for us had we been stranded in Europe.
TL;DR: Upon leaving Paris France, we arrived at DeGaulle airport as they opened for the day, to see our returning flights to JFK airport, in NY, were canceled due to a strike with AirFrance. After an hour of wandering an empty airport, we got customer service to help us which took another hour. We flew to Edinburgh Scotland to make an impossible connection to NJ instead of to JFK in NY, where we had family who originally planned to pick us up. Missed that connection. Then flew to London England and transferred onto a flight to JFK. Took a full 24 hours to get back to NY from Paris France. Much Stress was had.
TL;DR: Advice?: Idk. Double check if the airline is going on strike before flying out? Maybe book a few days off between returning from the trip and returning to work afterwards? Good luck.