But, if you think you can buy a flight and just get on a plane, think again.
I don’t mean to be direct, but I’m worried. It seems like travellers heading to or from Covid-free destinations haven’t been schooled in the nature of travel now.
It doesn’t matter where you are flying to, or where you are coming from, if you haven’t completed the new necessary documents for your trip, you will not be allowed to board your flight. And if you aren’t working with a travel agent, you’ll need to do your research.
Here’s what has changed:
- A negative covid-19 departure or entry test is now required for almost every transit or entry point globally
- Health documentation is required for almost every transit or entry globally. Each country has its own unique form.
- To transit, there are requirements: Not all passport holders are allowed to transit in all countries. Not all airlines are allowed to transit in all countries. Not all flight numbers are eligible for transit. Not all stop-over durations are eligible for transit.
A lot can go wrong. Especially because when you book online, the computer does not know your eligibility. In fact, the computer simply doesn’t know you.
Schedule Changes & Cancellations
Before Covid, the advertised flight schedule was almost certainly the same schedule that would depart on the day, aside from the odd delay. That’s no longer the case.
Now airlines tend to reduce and consolidate their passengers closer to departure day. Often flights will be cancelled too, especially as government restrictions happen frequently.
When you book yourself online, you are a number in the queue against the other passengers. Expect long delays in speaking to a person on the phone; they have many people to get through and you’re just one of them.
Before Booking Your Flight
Before booking your flight, meticulously check your eligibility against every transit and entry country’s requirements. If you need a Covid test, check the type, timeframe prior to entry or departure that you need it. Don’t forget to check that you won’t need one en-route if you are travelling long-haul too.
What About Accommodation
What do you do when you want to go on holiday to a place you’re eligible to visit, but things change and you can’t travel anymore? You hope you didn’t book through an accommodation portal, that’s what.
If I Had a Penny…
…For every time I’ve heard someone gasp at a travel agent charging $50 more than the online price for airfares or accommodation. Give me a break.
Times have changed. The volume of work that goes into every booking is much more than it was before, especially with all the flight schedule changes and cancellations agents have to deal with. Without an agent, you’re not immune to a bucket load of tedious work either.
As a customer, you’ve just paid to relieve yourself from endless phone tag and being put on hold with an airline. Or challenging an accommodation portal who has no intention of reimbursing you for a trip you never made.
Travel agents are worth their weight in gold. Especially when using the services of one means you don’t need to research your travel requirements, nor put in the hard labour of obtaining refunds or credits. You also don’t need to sit in phone queue for relentless periods of time waiting to hear the status and outcome of your disrupted trip.
Here’s What You Didn’t Know…
Before Covid, travel agents were pretty keen to grab your business. Back then, agents earnt commission from the airline, hotel or supplier, for each booking. Happy Days!
Now though, the relationship has reversed. Traveller’s desperately need the services of a travel agent, but agents must select which customers they work with. That’s because the effort of a booking is relentless, challenging and ever changing. To add insult to injury, airlines have reduced agent commission. The end result: more work, more stress, less return.
We love what we do. We wholeheartedly adore supporting our customers to get where they want to go; be it the necessity of returning home or visiting family during Covid, or for a well deserved holiday. But we think traveller’s around the world might need to rethink the traveller/agent relationship.
Right when you shop around a few agents or online portals, scrutinising the final invoices of each before selecting who you buy from, you might just teeter on a precarious position of being forced to brave it all alone.
Always work with a travel agent.