Avoid December 'flightmares': An overview of holiday air-travel from Czechia

Travelers should stay alert, as airlines and airports expect their busiest Christmas period since pre-pandemic times, including some planned strikes.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 06.12.2022 11:30:00 (updated on 05.12.2022) Reading time: 6 minutes

Christmas is around the corner, and the next few weeks will see millions of people across Czechia gearing up for holiday travel.

Given the aviation chaos in Europe over the summer, brought about by a huge post-Covid demand for travel and airport staff shortages, it makes sense that holidaymakers could fear similar disruptions this winter. 

Here's what you need to know about airfares, potential delays, or disruptions to and from popular European and trans-Atlantic destinations, as you plan your holiday travel from the Czech Republic.

Airfares and ticket demand are at pre-pandemic levels

According to Prague Airport spokesperson Klára Divíšková, 1.5 million Czechs are expected to travel by air during this winter season, catching up with levels seen before the pandemic.

A spokesperson for Czech travel agency Čedok, Kateřina Pavlíková, confirmed to Expats.cz that "travel demand for [Czech] consumers was higher than in the pre-pandemic year 2019."

In addition to this winter shaping up to be the busiest air travel season since 2019, Josef Trejbal, Chief Executive of travel company Letuska.cz, told Expats.cz that air-fare prices to European destinations from the Czech Republic increased by about 15 percent, and to Asian destinations by 25 percent. 

While fares are up, there are still deals to be had: Secretflying (which alerts you to mistake fares), Kayak, and Farecompare are worthy sites to find cheap flight deals other than the popular Skyscanner.

Despite the increased demand, some European airlines are reportedly reducing the number of flights while also anticipating industry-wide strikes during the festive period.

Euronews notes that the reductions reflect "economic pressure" following the summer months, leading carriers such as Lufthansa and Wizz Air to reduce their numbers of flights going into the Christmas season.

Similar disruptions are anticipated to take place across Europe, the UK, and the U.S.

In the Czech Republic, including at Prague Airport, no staff-related strikes or bottlenecks are yet expected, but delays in other countries may well affect flights leaving, or arriving at the Czech Republic.

Winter air travel 2022: Destination watch


At Heathrow Aiport, one of Europe's busiest hubs, “hundreds of baggage handlers” are planning a mass walk-out in mid-December. They plan to strike for 72 hours from Dec. 16, which the trade union behind the protest says will “cause some disruption for passengers in the run-up to the busy festive period,” Euronews reports

According to the BBC, airlines likely to be affected by the three-day strike are Air Canada, American Airlines, Lufthansa, Swiss Air, Air Portugal, Austrian Airlines, Qantas, Egypt Air, Aer Lingus, and Finnair.

Staff from the UK Border Force and Passport Office, who deal with immigration and customs at the UK’s airports, have also voted in the thousands to hold a strike during the Christmas period. No dates have yet been confirmed, but it will likely cause queues and disruption at the UK’s busiest airports (such as Heathrow, Stansted Airport, and Manchester Airport).

Heathrow last month released a statement reported by the Guardian that promised no daily cap on passenger departures this winter (introduced during the summer following airport-staff shortages), though it admits that the airport still “requires a further 25,000 staff” to be able to cope with peak demand.


Cabin crew at Air France, the largest air carrier in the country, have filed a provisional strike notice in demand for greater pay. Should the staff’s requests not be met, some Air France cabin crew will walk out between Dec. 22 and Jan. 2, 2023, according to The Local. 

Similarly, the SNPNC-FO union, which represents all cabin crew working in France, is threatening a Christmas strike. Demanding pay rises for France’s Easyjet staff, it states that there will be “a very high risk” of strikes if no wage-increase agreement is reached. No strike dates have yet been published. 


Ryanair cabin crew based in Spain have been on strike for five months; their walk-out will continue through Christmas until early January. According to Euronews, the strikes have taken place from Monday to Thursday every week in Madrid, Barcelona, Malaga, and Alicante.

Ryanair, however, has said that the strike will cause only limited disruption to passengers.

Strikes by staff of Vueling, a Spanish low-cost carrier, have been ongoing since Nov. 1 and will continue until Dec. 31. Tens of flights have been canceled since the beginning of the strike, which takes place on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays, and public holidays. Vueling offers refunds or rebookings on canceled fights on its website.


Travelers flying to Portugal at the end of this week should look out for potential disruption. On Dec. 8 and Dec. 9, cabin crew for TAP Air, Portugal’s national carrier, will strike over staff shortages and poor working conditions. 

TAP Air has canceled over 350 flights thus far and the strike will affect about 50,000 passengers in the country. Although unlikely, the strike may yet be averted: “TAP is still in talks with the cabin crew union and hopes that an agreement can be reached to avoid a strike,” the airline said, as reported in The Connexion


Expats planning to return to the U.S. for Christmas should be aware of potential strikes by pilots and staff of United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and American Airlines, the country’s biggest carriers. No concrete plans have yet been announced, though talks between unions such as the Air Line Pilots Association and the companies over pay and working hours are continuing.

Last month, more than 15,000 Delta pilots voted in favor of a strike owing to complaints over their work-life balance, as per National Public Radio. Delta Air Lines Chief Executive Ed Bastian, however, assuaged concerns by saying last month there was “no possibility” pilots could strike at “Christmas or anytime," as The Hill reported last month.

Compensation for cancelation and delays

Those traveling within the EU, or on airlines owned by an EU country are entitled to compensation should their flights be delayed or canceled and airlines inform them of disruption fewer than 14 days in advance.

Passengers on canceled flights will also get a reimbursement for a return flight, if there is one. However, compensation does not apply to delays caused by external “extraordinary” circumstances, such as weather-related factors. A calculator developed by the Norweigan Consumer Council can help you see how much you may be owed.

Passengers on EU flights with delayed or canceled flights can receive up to:

  • EUR 250 for flights up to 1,500 kilometers.
  • EUR 400 for flights between 1,500 and 3,500 kilometers.
  • EUR 600 for flights beyond 3,500 kilometers.

EU airlines are legally required to provide passengers with a meal and refreshments

  • A delay of two-plus hours for flights up to 1,500 kilometers.
  • A delay over three hours for intra-EU flights between 1,500 and 3,000 kilometers.
  • A delay of four or more hours for all other flights.

According to the EU's passenger rights directive, travelers are not entitled to compensation for canceled flights – even with less than 14 days' notice – "if the airline offers a new flight that departs and arrives within a sufficiently similar timeframe." A two to four-hour delay after an airline reroute will mean that you will get 50 percent less compensation.

There is usually a multi-year time frame in which you can claim compensation after a disrupted flight (three years for Czech Airlines, for example), and so you may even be able to claim money back on delayed or canceled flights from the past. You can find more detailed information about compensation on Flightright or AirHelp and also read about EU-wide flight compensation on the official EU website.

Tips for flying from Czechia this holiday season

Prague Airport's website advises passengers to arrive at the airport "well ahead of time." For people needing to check in their baggage, the airport recommends arriving "at least two hours prior to the scheduled departure" of the flight. People with only hand baggage can arrive later, but are still advised to get to the airport "well in advance."

Sites Flightaware and Flightstats are great tools to stay updated with any last-minute delays or cancellations, with notification-sending options.

You can also follow Prague Airport's Twitter account, @PragueAirport, for the latest breaking news and updates.

Would you like us to write about your business? Find out more