Here are 6 problems (and my solutions) you may face if traveling this summer
As we round the corner of Memorial Day this weekend, we are heading straight into the busy summer travel season. Here are the six things that will be different this summer than last summer.
Problem #1 – Airlines will see record flight cancellations and schedule changes this summer – We are already seeing it across the board. Almost every airline is struggling to find the staff to run their regular schedules. What we are seeing is many airlines are proactively canceling flights way in advance because of the staffing shortage. Unfortunately, even with the airlines proactively canceling flights, I continue to see lots of flights canceled and a massive number of schedule changes because of lack of crews. Unfortunately, It will get worse and worse every day this summer. Solution #1 – Work with a professional travel advisor who can assist you by finding alternative flights when your airline leaves you high and dry. Don’t always accept the alternative flights the airlines suggest. There are usually other options that might be better. Also, take non-stop flights so instead of having four flight segments where something can go wrong you only have two.
Problem #2 – You haven’t got a prayer if Southwest Airlines cancels your flight this summer – Airplanes are full this summer. This means that if you are flying an airline that does not have a reciprocating agreement with another airline to accept passengers when a flight cancels (like Southwest) you are out of luck and have to wait until they find a seat for you. This means you might have to wait up to 3 days to get home. Solution #2 – Fly on the major airlines like United, Delta or American who will often rebook you on another airline if they don’t have any seats left. Using a friendly travel advisor will also be a big help in negotiating on your behalf.
Problem #3 – Airports will see long lines and full parking garages – Let’s face it. Many people have not been flying for over two years. They have saved up and are ready to take to the skies. They have forgotten the standard protocol and processes for traveling. There are also a lot of newbies that don’t know how the process works with airport security and bag check that will muck up and slow things down. Solution #3 – Apply for TSA Pre-check and Global Entry (international travelers) and speed by everyone standing in line. Also, arrive at the airport at least 90 minutes early or on busy travel days, make it two hours in advance.
Problem #4 – Travel prices for airline tickets, hotels, and car rentals are sky high – Last year, everything was on sale. This summer, the travel industry is in the catbird seat, and they are booked solid and are squeezing every last dollar they can get out of airline seats, hotels, and car rentals. This last week I saw tickets to Ohio and Florida that were over $1100 each. Hotel room rates are surpassing those charged pre-COVID and car rental companies know they don’t have to discount to fill their limited number of cars. Solution #4 – Book your reservations as early as possible as prices rise as supply becomes limited. Some airline tickets are so high your only alternative may be to drive. However, $5 gas even makes that painful. If you don’t want to play travel agent yourself, using a friendly travel advisor can also point out alternative flights and travel options for good value.
Problem #5 – You may get skunked finding a car rental – The car rental companies can’t buy enough cars to meet the demand. I have heard many stories of people arriving at a location expecting to be able to rent a car when they arrive only to find that everyone is “sold out.” Solution #5 – If you need a car this summer, you better be sure to rent it before you go. Work with a travel advisor to get you enrolled in a car rental company club membership program that provides car rental upgrades and availability based on status. I personally recommend always using National Car Rental. They always come through.
Problem #6 – Hotel service will stink this summer – Once again, COVID had a giant impact on the hotel industry, and many hotels were forced to lay off staff to address the downturn. Now they are having a hard time finding people to fill those positions. You can expect many hotels to deal with the shortage by limiting cleaning rooms and in some cases charging for room cleaning, Many hotels only have one person at the reception desk and are pushing for self-check-in. Many hotel restaurants will be closed. Even 5-star hotels will see a dramatic decline in service. Ironically, the hospitality industry (or so it is called) will be anything but hospitable this summer. Solution #6 – This may be a situation where you might have to grin and bear it. Hotels simply don’t have the staff to provide good service. Unfortunately, having a clean room with clean sheets and towels when you arrive may be the most you can expect this year.
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