I wrote last month about the chaos in airports particularly throughout Europe. In case you missed it I said, “A disturbing but predictable picture of the ensuing chaos has been painted this week in the local news which blames the pandemic and the necessity for Airports to have to cut staff, like baggage handlers, security, and check-in services, during COVID’s height, resulting in Airports across Europe being left in chaos with flight delays, cancellations, and lost luggage leaving thousands of travellers stranded”. I also gave some general advice on what we all, as leisure or business travellers, can do to try to make our travel experience less disrupted by these issues.
The Chaos extends
What was not expected however was that this would extend for such a long period, and whereas I suggested at the time that one might look at postponing their travel until September, we are now in September and the problems at airports are no better than they were now, and possibly even worse. Airport executives are being asked to get their hands dirty and assist with baggage handling just to try to alleviate the massive backlog and potential luggage mis- directions, something that is happening frequently. For this reason, I thought a little more advice, which could help travellers right now, would be pertinent and hopefully useful to you.
Plan further ahead
I would now suggest that travel plans should be made far more in advance. New people are going to have to be onboarded at airports and still trained so we could be in for the long haul. I would say safely you should be looking at December at the earliest before this is less of an issue, and then we have to remember the holiday travel can exacerbate the situation so maybe if you have a business trip to plan right now even try to defer it until around January.
In the interim, what I suggest is to take as much hand luggage as possible and airlines and airports are encouraging this so make the most of it. Even the inconvenience of having to travel with less is better than the very real prospect of your luggage not arriving at your destination. If you are travelling on holiday, rather pack in or buy an extra bag at your destination and just pay for excess baggage on the return flight. Hopefully by the time you return the situation will have improved! Another useful tip is that you should remember there are bagless flight options which are generally cheaper, so if you are going to carry only hand luggage anyway, opt for these and save some money.
Research and documentation
I previously mentioned researching alternate flights and travel options but I would take this a step further and remind you that fairly extensive research needs to be done when travelling abroad right now. For instance, look for alternate means of transport wherever you go, like taking a train or going to bordering destinations by bus or car. Wherever you travel be aware of potential delays and strikes – for example, if you normally ride the underground to your business appointments check that they are running normally and there are no disruptions. Build yourself some extra transit time if you have multiple sectors to allow for these issues. These are difficult times for the entire travel industry as we struggle to return to normality following a couple of years of having to make trained people redundant.
Regarding documentation, as we all know the delays in obtaining Visas have been pretty bad. Different countries are processing at different speeds for visas and although the EU is back to 6 weeks after a 2 months waiting period the best message I can convey is that for all documentation, passports, visas etc. forward planning is also essential.
TMCs will help
In summary, planning, thorough research and adopting a few interim solutions will get us through this unusually difficult time in the travel industry and always remember that your TMCs are your go-to people to help you with all of this. The main thing is to work closely with them as they are the trained professionals, able to give all the kind of advice I have given now and assist you to ensure that your travel plans and experiences are as seamless as ever. We understand how important travel is to businesses and to those for whom the wanderlust is simply a way of life – so together, let us keep it alive!LIDIA FOLLI
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER