This is perhaps the most difficult article I have had to write yet, and yes that includes the early months of the pandemic, but I feel I really need to explain what is going out there right now, and how we as a business are adapting to cope with what can only be described as mild chaos in almost everything travel related.
The main pain point is flights. While you may think that American or United are the main culprits, currently the airline industry worldwide is in disarray. You will read there is a pilot shortage and this is true, but there also shortages of baggage handlers, security staff, flight attendants and more roles that affect how the whole flow of an airport works including flights.
This has come to a head in the last 2 weeks and we have had cancelled flights for clients, several instances of lost baggage and very, very long security lines.
This hurts us in 2 ways. One, it disappoints our clients which can reflect on us, and two, it means our actual average work time on each trip we create is more than double what it was in 2019. We strive to help clients with any flights we book and that currently means we have been on hold with airlines on your behalf for many multiple hours. If you've been contacting us recently with new itinerary planning requests and it's taken a few days for a response this is the main reason. Dealing with these issues takes a long time to get to the right resolution for our travelers.
Similar to the airline industry, hotels, tour operators, guide services, drivers, and restaurant workers are all in short supply. When you couple this with extraordinary demand for this summer, there are naturally issues. We have connections with thousands of the absolute best travel services providers worldwide and I don't think there is one that would not admit to this problem. So while not nearly as widespread as airline issues, we have experienced a few cancelled private transfers, tours, and below par hotel service as we have started this summer.
Although this is a generalization, I will say that most service issues are in the mid-range to 4-star properties. At the true luxury level, properties are continuing to attract the staff they need to provide their superior service, and our clients have been thrilled with their stays.
I could go on at length, but will head instead to this weeks Top 5, and leave you this week by saying, please consider using a travel advisor. We have your back, we advocate for you, and while even we cannot promise a completely smooth trip, we can promise you have backup to ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible.
Top 5 - Best Tips for Traveling this Summer
Our family once traveled in SE Asia for 6 weeks with carry-on only. If there is any way you can let every member of your traveling group have their own carry-on, you remove a substantial risk this summer of losing your bags when checking them. If you have to take the larger bags then consider packing multiple persons clothes in each bag. That way if one makes it, at least everyone has some clothes until (hopefully) the rest turn up.
If you have a domestic summer trip lined up, and the drive is 8 hours or less, we suggest taking the car, despite high gas prices! Although airlines are blaming weather a lot we believe it is more the logistics of having pilots in the right places that is causing the cancellations we are seeing. There is also no pattern to it, so we can't advise if a flight is more or less likely to be cancelled. As far as we can tell it is random.
3. Booking flights
If you are still in the planning stage for 2022 and are looking at booking flights yourself, make sure to leave longer connecting times than you would usually consider, just as added protection against a long delay or cancellation. If there is a non-stop option, the extra premium is likely to be worth it. This is true for domestic and international flights.
4. The Airport
Current advice for international travel is to arrive at the airport 4 hours before departure. My local hub CLT has had several days recently with multiple hours queues for security. That is not to say, if the day and timing is right, you won't sail through in 20 minutes. It's just not worth the risk of missing your flight which potentially can derail a whole trip. Many airports have a live feed on security line wait times. Charlotte's info can be found HERE.
5. PPP - Pack your Patience and Politeness
If you're traveling this summer you will almost certainly at some point have to face up to at least a minor issue, whether that be a long queue or a local guide who is running a few minutes late. Please remember that many in the industry were without employment for 2020 and a lot of 2021, and suddenly they are overwhelmed with the demand that's erupted in 2022. A deep breath, a little patience and an understanding of the locals wherever you are will go a long way to making your trip special, and you can take this from someone who has just shared 9 hours of driving from Washington DC to Charlotte due to multiple cancelled flights!
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I love travel and I love travel planning just as much and I am proud to be building a team as passionate about exploring the world as myself. It took me a very long time to align my career with my undeniable passion for exploring, but now I and the team are here for you. Your personal travel tailors - award reservation and luxury custom itinerary experts. We provide a bespoke service, imagining and creating itineraries for independent minded families and groups.
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