Warning – Travel this Thanksgiving may turn into the “Perfect Storm”

Warning – Travel this Thanksgiving may turn into the “Perfect Storm”

I hate to tell you this but storm clouds are brewing on November 24 (the day before Thanksgiving) that may make your holiday travel plans very painful. Last week I learned that 40% of TSA agents (the people that operate airport security checks) are not vaccinated and have a deadline of Nov. 24 to get vaccinated or they may be terminated. Add to this over 25% of the pilots for American Airlines are not vaccinated and they also have a deadline of November 24 to get vaccinated or they risk termination. If AA and TSA go through with their threats to require vaccination or be terminated we will have the biggest air travel mess in history during Thanksgiving weekend.  I hope calmer heads will prevail, however, I would not bet the farm on that happening.

Southwest Airlines meltdown is the third leg of concern during Thanksgiving weekend – A week ago Southwest Airlines canceled thousands of flights and left hundreds of thousands of people stranded when they had a crew scheduling glitch that caused airplanes to be in places that their crews were not. Once the dominoes started to fall it caused their whole system to melt down leaving thousands stranded. One thing Southwest did not mention is they also have thousands of pilots who refuse to be vaccinated which may cause the Thanksgiving “Perfect Storm” mentioned above to reverberate for days, weeks, or even months after the November 24 vaccination deadline.

Here are 9 ways  to protect against the possibility of a Thanksgiving “Perfect Storm”

1. Make your reservations on United and Delta Air Lines – These two airlines appear to be less impacted than American and Southwest for the upcoming Thanksgiving travel window. They also have agreements that allow them to protect displaced travelers (caused by canceled or delayed flights) by rebooking travelers in empty seats on other airlines to allow for the fastest way to get travelers to their destinations. Southwest does not have a reciprocating agreement with other airlines to accept Southwest displaced travelers. AA a few weeks ago said they also were not planning to help out their displaced travelers and might only just refund their money.

2. Use a travel advisor to book your reservations – Customers are reporting that even during normal operations they have been on hold with the airlines for up to 9 hours. I can’t understand why anyone in their right mind would ever book directly with an airline when they can access a friendly Executive Travel Advisor in an average of 9 seconds.  Plus, when your flight cancels you have a friendly advisor to call to coach you in finding alternatives to get you home as fast as possible.

3. Consider making backup car rental reservations – Just in case you are stranded for days and want to get home sooner.

4. Consider making backup airline reservations – Some people will advise you to make reservations on two separate airlines with one ticket being completely refundable to allow you a backup flight if your primary flight cancels.

5. Have a backup hotel reservation so if your flight is canceled you have a place to stay – Recently I received a call from a group of people stranded on Southwest Airlines (and not booked by Executive Travel) that they were stuck in Las Vegas for three days. I advised them to ask the airline for hotel vouchers, food vouchers, and transportation to and from the hotel. That is the type of support you get when using a travel advisor.

6. Arrive at the airport at least three hours prior to your flight – I know this sounds excessive but if you indeed have 40% fewer TSA agents in service during the Thanksgiving holidays you will see lines long enough to set a new record in the Guinness Book of World Records. I hate to arrive at the airport more than an hour before my flight times but if I was traveling during Thanksgiving this year I would get there 3 hours early.

7. Try to register for a Global Entry and TSA PreCheck pass – This allows you to get in the express lane at the airport. This has been a lifesaver for me many times. While I don’t expect TSA PreCheck lines to be very short during the holidays they should take half the time or less of normal security lines.

8. This may be the time you bypass flying and simply drive to your destination – With so much uncertainty with the airlines, you might want to add a couple of days and simply drive to your destination this year and keep your fingers crossed that we don’t get an early snowstorm.9. I can’t believe I am saying this but you might want to consider simply staying home for the Thanksgiving holiday – With all the hassles of masks, social distancing, vaccinations, pilot shortages, and the possibility of long TSA lines perhaps a zoom call with loved ones this year will simplify life and allow you to set up a delayed Thanksgiving weekend in the coming months when this vaccination showdown is settled.

Ready, Reset, Go – with Women of the Midwest – With our awesome women-only travel concept, you don’t need to wait for your friends to be able to travel. Take that one step and travel solo together; you won’t regret it! Meet new friends and feel the difference when traveling in a small group of a maximum of twenty-two like-minded women. “Pair-and-Share”-program for solos (single rooms are available too), domestic- and international journeys of a lifetime. Check out all the exciting departures for 2022 HERE. The tours are filling fast; call or email our friendly group department to secure a spot on your bucket list destination journey; (402) 858-0033 / GroupDepartment@executivetravel.com. PS: This group also has a fun Facebook page – check it out!

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