Border Force staff at Glasgow Airport are among those taking part in strike action next week as airlines have been urged by the aviation regulator to “look after their passengers”.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said travellers should be given food, drinks and overnight accommodation as required if flights are delayed or cancelled, but warned that customers are unlikely to be entitled to compensation.
Around 1,000 Border Force staff who are members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union at Heathrow, Birmingham, Cardiff, Gatwick, Glasgow and Manchester airports will strike every day from December 23 to the end of the year, except December 27.
The action is part of a bitter dispute over pay, pensions and jobs.
There are fears that delays in checking the passports of arriving passengers could lead to long queues and even people being held on planes, disrupting subsequent departures.
CAA consumer director Paul Smith said: “We anticipate UK Border Force strikes may lead to longer queues and wait times than normal when arriving at the UK border, as well as possible flight disruption.
“In the event of delays and cancellations, airlines have an obligation to look after their passengers.
“Where a flight is cancelled, airlines also have an obligation to help passengers find an alternative flight or to provide a refund, although, given the circumstances, passengers may be unable to get to their destinations as quickly as we or airlines would like.
“We expect airlines to do what they can to minimise the overall disruption to passengers, and this includes proactively providing passengers with updates and information about their rights when flights are disrupted.
“Border Force strikes are outside of the control of airlines so it is unlikely that customers will be entitled to compensation for any delays and cancellations arising from these strikes.”
Military personnel are being trained to step in at airports if required during the strikes.
The Home Office has warned passengers to “be prepared to face longer wait times at UK border control”.