Heading for Europe Soon? Expect Flight Delays

Starting tomorrow (Tuesday), air traffic controllers in France plan to go on strike. And unions in other countries may join the strike in coming days.

Although European airlines may have to cancel lots of flights, they'll probably drop mostly short-haul trips, so your flight to Europe is likely to operate with a minimal delay. But if you're going to fly on beyond your arrival hub, you'd better start thinking about a Plan B.

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The strike is a double affront to air travelers. First, of course, is the delay and confusion over the few days of the actual strike. But what the workers are striking about is a grave long-term problem: They are opposed to the plan to modernize Europe's fragmented air-traffic-control system into much more efficient multicountry operations.

The current system costs airlines some five billion euros a year in inefficiencies and delays, and just about everybody except the strikers believes that upgrading is vital to the future of the region's air travel. No matter what your politics, this is one strike you should hope the controllers lose.

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