Travel is picking up & we’re heading into what is set to be the busiest holiday/summer season in years. And, the truth is that airlines are not prepared for the surge, but you can be. Avoid & manage stressful travel scenarios this summer with these helpful tips.
- Give yourself the gift of time. If you haven’t booked your next trip, consider flying out a day early to account for unexpected delays. Also, plan to arrive at the airport earlier than usual to leave time for longer security lines – 3 hours at the bare minimum.
- Purchase travel insurance. We strongly recommend Comprehensive Travel Insurance so you have coverage for trip cancellation/delay, baggage loss & medical issues that are so prevalent these days. FTI customers can learn about our Travel Insurance Options on www.fellowship.com.
- Re-check all your travel requirements in detail. Review your itinerary on the airline’s website, they often have a link to trip requirements & you can upload required forms and also fill out emergency contact section. Make sure you know the latest on COVID testing (to the hour) & document requirements. And, if traveling internationally, check the validity of your passport to make sure it’s valid for at least 6 months after your return date; many countries will not allow entry otherwise. Starting May 3, 2023, your license must have a STAR indicating it is a REAL ID or you must use your passport to travel domestically.
- Minimize luggage. Lost baggage is becoming more prevalent. Use carry-ons if you can & make sure your name & address are on your bag.
- Be ready for delays. Bring plenty of snacks & toys/games to entertain the kids in case you’re delayed.
- Don’t forget emergency contact info. Make sure you bring:
- Travel insurance policy number & phone number
- After-hours emergency number (FTI’s is 804-550-0121.)
- Emergency numbers for ground service providers
- Emergency contacts for all travelers
Before You Travel
- Put the airline app on your phone. You’ll receive real-time notifications – gate changes, delays, etc.
- Check flight schedule. And, re-check it the night before & morning of travel. Changes happen frequently. If your itinerary no longer works, you may be able to correct it by phone with the airline or FTI customers can reach an advisor 24 hours a day.
- Plan for change. Airlines have fewer flights on the schedule. If yours gets cancelled, there may not be another available until the next day. If traveling as part of a group, be prepared to split up (and decide who should travel with who) in order for everyone to be re-accommodated.
- Check-in online 24 hours prior to departure. Choose your seat if not in place already, pay baggage fees, print or save your boarding pass to your phone. (This may not be allowed for groups, depending on the airline).
If your flight gets cancelled, what do you do?
- Get in an Airline Customer Service line immediately. (Look for another gate with a short line.) Alternate flights will fill up FAST.
- Check your phone (if you are signed up for flight alerts) for an offer to accommodate you on another flight.
- Exercise your patience. Maintain a positive attitude & you’ll find people are much more willing to help when you need it.
When should you expect Airline Travel Disruption Vouchers?
Airlines have the ability to provide vouchers for meals & free or discounted hotel stays, in addition to arranging alternative flights.
- Flight cancelled or delayed due to mechanical issues? Airlines are obligated to take care of you if the delay or cancellation is due to a problem with the aircraft. Always ask.
- Flight cancelled & can’t fly until tomorrow? Ask to be booked on an alternate airline if your airline does not have another same day flight. If you have to spend an overnight, ask for a hotel voucher if it’s due to a mechanical issue. If it’s weather, ask for special discounted hotel rates.
- Weather-related delay? Do not expect vouchers. But … you can ask.
- Flight crew didn’t show? The airline may say this is weather related, but politely appeal to them to provide assistance.
Did the airline lose your bag?
If a bag is lost, DO NOT leave the airport without filing a claim. You can check the claim number on the airline’s websites to see an update on where your bag is and when to expect delivery.
What if you have a travel emergency during a tour?
If you book your tour with FTI, use the emergency contact information for our in-country contacts to get the help you need right away. We also advise that you call your travel insurance company so they can assist you & advise you regarding your coverages.
FTI After-Hours Services
Over the past few months, our efforts have continued to be challenged by airport/airline cancellations, delays, and staffing shortages. Additionally, our agents are spending hours on hold with airline, car, and hotel vendors, addressing ancillary requests by travelers, which further exacerbates hold time issues. In an effort to minimize those wait times for everyone, we are temporarily suspending after-hours service for the following requests, effective July 1, 2022:
- Paid seat assignments / Special airline requests
- Luggage concerns
- Check-in status release
- Vendor Booking Authorizations: Agents will book lowest available comparable options based on availability.
We hope you found these tips helpful & that your travel will all go smoothly.
Have a safe & happy 4th of July weekend!