Cancelled Flights, Delays, Frustration and Chaos
Not So Easy Traveling These Days
The pandemic denied both the pleasures and tribulations of travel. The urge to make up for missed holidays and reunions, both personal and professional, has brought the sort of airport chaos that travellers avoided while covid-19 suspended everyone’s plans. Passengers queued for hours at airports from Barcelona to Los Angeles as flights were delayed or cancelled. Americans were furious after nearly 3,000 flights were scrapped in the four days around the Memorial Day weekend in late May.
The airport experience was already a challenge before the pandemic and now travelers are faced with what most are calling the worst in history. Despite airlines’ predictions of it taking years for travel to return to what it was, vaccination efforts and the global ease of border restrictions in response to reduced public health concerns triggered a sharp increase in the number of travelers, and the industry forecasts that it’ll continue as we enter a peak season.
This unexpected disruption persists while the airports and airline industry experience difficulty in keeping up with travel appetites, staffing up, and returning to business as usual.
Navigating through what experts are qualifying as “one of the most challenging travel peak periods to date” can be arduous, the solution is to be ready for disruption and for longer resolution time. So, before making travel plans, keep in mind the following recommendations to give you the best chance to navigate in today’s traveler reality.
Encore Travel Specialized Travel Advisors suggesting what to do in time of travel disruption
Encore Travel Suggests 7 tips to reduce frustration while navigating through travel disruptions
1. Get to the airport early
Snaking long lines for security checkpoints at major international airports has been a persistent problem. Count on at least 2 hours to get through security. Those that have fast-track access such as Global Entry or Nexus will get through faster but don’t count on this. Even airline lounges are experiencing lineups of up to 40 minutes.
2. Pick direct flights
The fewer flights you take, the less risk you have of missing your connecting flight or being stranded at the airport faced with last-minute cancellations.
3. Avoid checking bags
Airlines are short of baggage handlers. Carry-on luggage will reduce the stress of searching for lost or delayed luggage. As Airlines struggle with a ground crew shortage, the probability of lost or forgotten bags becomes a very real storyline for travelers. Departure levels are currently packed with long queues at baggage check-in areas and security screening points while bag carousels upon arrival are seen overflowing with late arrival bags. Carry on your essentials!
4. Book connections in the bracket of 4-6 hours
There are of course situations where a connecting flight is unavoidable as well as having to take more than a carry-on with you, if this turns out to be the case, then make sure to book flights that have a connecting time of at least 4-6 hours. Due to long wait times and airport bottlenecks, it now takes rampies a long time to unload baggage and sort them out. With a shorter time bracket, even if you make the connecting flight, your bags might not. We strongly recommend a minimum time of 4-6hours between departures.
5. Book overnight flights if same-day connections are unavailable
If a same-day connecting window of 4-6hours is not possible, then it would be ideal to book a layover at the connecting destination. This option extends the itinerary, however, the outcome benefits the traveler by getting some sleep and a good chance of missing a disruption altogether.
6. Buy tickets on operating carriers
This one serves more as an advisory than a recommendation coming from our Specialized Travel Advisors. One of the most ambiguous airline reservations on a normal day, but worse in a severe airline disruption, is what the industry categorizes as a “code-share” flight.
This often applies when airlines form alliances to offer more connectivity and services to travelers, aka “Star Alliance” and “OneWorld”. This can be verified at time of booking indicated by “[ flight by an airline] and operated by [another airline]”.
During normal operations, this partnership offers a world of possibilities to travelers, today, a major concern by the ongoing global staff shortage in addition to airport delays creates the likelihood of important misalignment in operations. What a company chooses to do to reduce delays and cancellations may not be the same as what the operating carrier offers its passengers. Flight status, frequent flyer advantages, and other information may not be updated in real-time through multiple operating systems which could potentially lead to unfavorable resolutions for travelers. Therefore, communication between the two airlines adds a layer of risk.
7. Consult with your travel agency. We are here for you 24/7!
For whatever travel situation or issue, we are one call away. Our goal is to make your journey as easy as it gets, this is why we make sure we are by your side from the start to the end of your trip. From the moment you buy your ticket and later check-in, our agents immediately start moving mountains for you. Contact your specialized travel advisor for expert advice.
In the end, if you are planning to travel
While it may seem as though the hardships of the well-seasoned “Road-Warriors” are always around the corner led by the latest disruption, our job is to ensure that our clients are surrounded by solutions and efficient assistance. Cancelled or delayed flights, pandemics, air/ground crew strikes, and staff shortages are just a reality of the travel industry.
Utilizing what our Specialized Travel Advisors have suggested above is meant to ease the process of having to travel during such chaos. No matter the situation we are available 24/7 to take care of every situation and support our business travelers.
Some not-so-fun facts about the current situation:
- Least reliable airports: Newark, LaGuardia and Orlando
- The most-delayed major airline in recent months: JetBlue
- Qantas recorded an average on-time arrival rate of 58.7% in April and an average on-time departure rate of 57.7% as compared to Delta who got the top scores at 83.6% followed by American Airlines at 81.5% and United at 78.2%
- British Airways has taken 8,000 flights off its March-October schedule
- It took an average of four hours to get through security at Dusseldorf airport during the month of June.
- Delta offered 8 passengers $10,000 each to give up seats on an overbooked flight out of Dallas
- In the last weeks, Toronto Pearson airport, Vancouver International Airport, Ottawa International Airport, Montreal Trudeau International, and the Calgary International Airport had about 51 percent of their domestic and international flights delayed or canceled.
- Air Canada recently announced they are canceling 154 domestic flights per day on average (mainly from YUL & YYZ hubs and Canada-US routes) for July and August which is basically 10% of their daily flight.
- The London Heathrow Airport cancelled 10 percent of their flights, directly affecting about 15,000 passengers and 90 flights.
- The London Gatwick Airport has limited its flights to 825 per day this month and 850 a day in August, which is about 10.6 percent less than its pre-pandemic numbers.
- Amsterdam Airport Schiphol has adopted a 20% cut to its number of travelers
- Dublin Airport recorded over 1000 cancellations a day last month
- Irish government sends in 1000 soldiers to support Dublin airport
- With about 47.9 million travelers in the United States between Friday and Monday, more than 3,800 flights within, into or out of the United States were delayed on Saturday and more than 2,300 flights on Saturday were canceled.
- Travelers are leaving their bags unclaimed at the airport due to hours of delays and frustration.
- Amidst all this, airport staff is fighting for better working conditions: employees in Paris and Italy airports have gone on strike. British airway staff would also be going on strike during the peak summer season.