Travel is back in a big way … and so are delays due to staffing that hasn’t recovered as quickly as traveler interest.
The airports are getting busy again, a sure sign of recovery for the travel industry. More and more people are getting back in the air and making up for lost time, and tourism is bouncing back faster than anticipated. This is great news for all of us … until you realize that airline staffing hasn’t come back at a proportionate rate to demand. Because as surely as travel is back, so are flight delays, and grumpy customers who are eager not to waste yet another minute after a too-long hiatus.
So what do you tell your customers when they’re at the airport facing unexpected delays? And what should you do, if anything at all? Here’s ALG Vacations’® best advice for this all-too-common situation.
Avoid worry—offer Travel Protection Plus from the get-go.
Cancel for Any Reason is often the primary reason people add Travel Protection Plus to their vacation package. Since the edict requiring a negative COVID-19 test was released, our expanded quarantine stay coverage, offered at the highest reimbursement levels of anyone in the industry, plus already generous medical care and evacuation plan has been a close second. But did you know Travel Protection Plus also offers up to $500 for missed connections due to flight delays, up to $300 on luggage delays of longer than 8 hours, and that the $3,000 travel delay cap also covers you for Common Carrier Delays?
Make sure to fill in customer contact info in your VAX booking.
If severe weather is on the horizon, you can be sure delays will follow. This is a given during the winter months, but as we roll into fall, hurricane squalls are also something to consider. Staying connected and on top of airline updates can help you get ahead of it, though, which is why we added a field for customer contact information in our VAX booking forms! This makes it so that if the option to change the flight at no charge due to weather pops up, they’ll get alerted to it. You and your customers can also check with the carrier on their websites, but it’s a nice convenience to have the notification proactively pop up.
Know your Fly Rights and carrier delay amenity policies.
There aren’t many, to be honest. U.S. airlines aren’t even held responsible for keeping to their own schedules; they are not guaranteed. And in the U.S., reasons you would think are under the purview of the airline are actually considered out of their control, even strikes and mechanical issues. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, if a flight delay occurs, you are susceptible to the individual policies of the airline, some of which are more generous than others. Compensation/refunds are only required when the flight is oversold and a passenger is bumped off their flight. Most of the time, though, on non-budget airlines, you may be eligible for a drink ticket, meal(s), or even an overnight stay at an airport hotel of their choice if necessary.
Keep an eye on other options.
If a flight is outright canceled, most airlines will work with you to rebook you on their first flight out at no additional charge. If the delay between originally scheduled departure and the next one is significant, passengers can ask that their ticket be endorsed to another carrier, which they may do at their discretion. This is logistically more challenging for the airlines in question, so it’s not a common solution, but if you can present proof of availability with codeshare partners, you may have a better chance. And keep an open mind and broaden the geographic range—a nearby local airport may end up having a more amenable option, too. The most important thing to remember, however, is that no airline is obligated to provide these considerations, which is why it pays to be nice and of course, to have a travel advisor on your side.
Being in the know and having tips like these in your back pocket are part of what differentiates the service and TLC a travel professional can provide a vacationer versus when they book on their own and are left to fend for themselves. ALG Vacations® is committed to continuing to provide references and resources that develop the expertise of travel advisors like yourself, including with our Know. Grow. GO! educational webinar series. Sign up for one of our many rotating topics or watch one on demand now!