Summer Travel Disruption: What You Need to Know and How to Protect Yourself

It’s not exactly the triumphant return of international travel everyone was hoping for. After two summer seasons wiped out by COVID-19, the world had its fingers and everything else crossed that 2022 would see everything get back to normal so we could all enjoy a long overdue holiday abroad again.

Well that has happened in part. International travel is now allowed. There aren’t all the restrictions and hoops to jump through that travellers faced a year ago, especially if you are fully vaccinated.

But like some vengeful evil spirit from a horror movie, COVID has still found a way to haunt the 2022 peak holiday season. Because, as you’ve no doubt seen reported, the airline industry is struggling to cope with demand. Flights are being cancelled on a daily basis, leaving holidaymakers at best facing long queues at airports, and at worst having their holidays cancelled.

With fears that the chaos seen over the Easter and spring bank holidays could now extend into the school summer holidays, holidaymakers are being warned – that dream holiday you’ve been looking forward to for so long might not go as smoothly as you would have hoped. As we’ve all been so used to doing throughout the pandemic, the advice is to plan for the worst.

So what’s going on and what do you need to know?

Chaotic airport after travel has been disrupted in the summer

Why all the chaos?

As we all know, the travel industry was hit hard by the pandemic. With airlines grounded, hotels shut and all but essential travel banned, an estimated 3.2 million jobs were lost in the European tourist industry alone. That includes airport workers and airline staff.

The tourism industry has only been opened up to full capacity again for a few months. In that time, businesses have had to try to re-recruit to replace all those workers lost. Many have found that difficult to do in such a short space of time.

At the same time, understaffed airlines and airports have had to try to cope with a sudden surge in demand, caused not just by people desperate to take their first trip abroad in three years, but also by people looking to cash in refund vouchers from holidays cancelled because of COVID-19.

Looking at scheduled flights after travel disruption

Who is affected?

Worryingly for holidaymakers, the trouble seems to be spreading. At Easter, the worst of the problems seemed to be confined to a couple or airlines and a handful of airports. EasyJet and British Airways continue to be at the centre of the storm, with the former already announcing the cancellation of up to 40 flights a day throughout June .

But while the initial disruption was mostly seen at the UK’s main airport hubs – Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester – over the jubilee bank holiday, thousands of British holidaymakers were stranded abroad trying to get home when their flights were cancelled.

Not only that, but the UK’s largest package holiday operator TUI has also started axing flights, meaning it is having to postpone or cancel holidays, too.

So the message is, whether you have booked your own flights or bought a package holiday, you could be equally vulnerable. And the risks extend from missing out on your holiday full stop to being stranded at your destination waiting for a flight to get you home.

Stress after your travel plans have been disrupted

What can you do to protect yourself?

The UK’s transport minister Grant Schapps has said that every passenger should automatically get a refund and compensation for flight cancellations and severe delays. But saying that and making it happen are two different things, especially when the airline industry is already in such a bad place financially in the wake of the pandemic.

The truth is that the legal framework for reimbursing passengers when their flights are cancelled is complicated. Under UK law, if an airline cancels a flight, all passengers should be able to choose between a full refund or choosing an alternative flight. If the cancellation is made up to 14 days before departure, passengers may also be entitled to compensation.

However, given the huge volume of cancellations currently taking place, passengers are likely to face a very long wait getting their money back. Airlines are likely to push people to accepts rebooking or flight vouchers rather than a cash refund, which may not suit some people. Compensation claims have to be investigated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), so delays there are likely to be even longer.

There is also an ‘expectation’ that airlines will provide accommodation, food etc if you face long delays at an airport. Passengers are often advised to pay for things themselves and then keep receipts to make a claim later. But again, this is likely to be a long-winded process.

There are circumstances where any of the above consumer protections enshrined in law may not be suitable for your circumstances. For example, if your return flight is cancelled but you need to get home in a hurry, you could decide to pay for an alternative rather than wait for the replacement offered by your airline. You wouldn’t be able to claim that cost back from your original airline and would have to rely on any compensation you were awarded being enough to cover the expenses.

Likewise, if an outbound flight cancellation leads to you missing the departure of a connecting flight in another country, you probably wouldn’t be able to claim back the cost of a new flight from the first operator (unless they happen to be the same).

Plus more simply, if you have booked flights and accommodation separately, while you may be able to get a refund on cancelled flights, that doesn’t do anything to reimburse you for anything you’ve paid up front for a hotel or apartment.

For all of these reasons, now more than ever it makes sense to take out a comprehensive travel insurance policy which offers a robust level of financial protection for cancellations. With payout limits on cancellations typically extending to five figures, you get the peace of mind of knowing that your whole holiday is covered should the worst happen with your flight, plus any additional costs like having to book new flights home, or accommodation if you get stuck at the airport.

Tranquility and calm out by the water

Tips On How To Stay Composed When Travel Is Disrupted

When faced with travel disruptions, it’s essential to remain calm and composed. Take a deep breath and try to stay positive. Remember that the situation is temporary, and you will get to your destination eventually.

One of the first steps to take is to familiarize yourself with your airline or travel company’s policy regarding disrupted travel. This will help you know what to expect and what options are available to you. Keep in mind that each company may have different policies, so it’s essential to read the fine print carefully.

Once you understand your rights, reach out to the airline or travel company as soon as possible to let them know about the disruption. Many companies have dedicated customer service teams that can assist you. If you’re struggling to get through on the phone, try reaching out to them on social media. Many companies have social media teams that can respond to queries quickly.

If your flight or train has been canceled, consider alternative modes of transport, such as buses or rental cars. Keep in mind that availability and cost can vary, so be sure to check before making any decisions.

It’s also essential to keep important documents, such as passports and tickets, with you at all times. This will help you to move quickly if you need to make alternative arrangements.

To stay informed about the situation, check the airline or travel company’s website, social media pages, or news outlets regularly. This will help you to make informed decisions and know what to expect.

Having a backup plan is always a good idea. Consider booking refundable hotel rooms or having alternative travel options ready, just in case.

Remember to stay patient throughout the process. Disrupted travel can be stressful, but try to keep a positive attitude. Who knows, you may even find unexpected adventures and experiences along the way.

Calm area of the modern airport which is not busy

Tips For Staying Calm During Stress Travel Experiences

When travel plans are canceled, it can be a frustrating and stressful experience that can put a damper on your trip. However, as a seasoned traveler, there are ways to stay calm and make the most of the situation.

Firstly, it’s essential to take a deep breath and remain calm. Rather than becoming upset, try to approach the situation with a level head. Remind yourself that there is always a solution, and the situation is temporary.

One way to stay positive is to focus on the opportunities that the situation presents. Perhaps your canceled flight means you have more time to explore the city you’re currently in. Or maybe it’s an opportunity to discover a hidden gem nearby that you may not have otherwise had the chance to visit.

Being flexible is key when travel plans are canceled. Consider alternative travel arrangements, such as taking a bus or renting a car, or even changing your itinerary altogether. Check out local tourist information centers or ask locals for recommendations on what to do in the area.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, take a break. Find a quiet spot to sit and relax, have a cup of tea or coffee, or read a book. Alternatively, try out a yoga or meditation class, which can be a great way to clear your mind and refocus.

It’s also important to stay positive throughout the process. Remember, the situation is temporary, and there is always a solution. Try to keep a positive attitude, even when things aren’t going according to plan.

If you’re traveling with friends or family, it can be helpful to reach out for support. Talking to someone who can offer a different perspective or provide emotional support can be comforting and help you to see the situation in a different light.

Finally, keeping yourself busy can help take your mind off the situation. Consider exploring the local area, visiting a museum or art gallery, or trying out a new restaurant. Who knows, you may even discover a new favorite spot!

In summary, staying calm when travel plans are canceled is crucial to making the most of your trip. By focusing on the opportunities, being flexible, taking breaks when needed, staying positive, reaching out for support, and keeping yourself busy, you can turn a setback into an adventure.

Relax at the airport on your computer while watching planes take off

How To Relax At The Airport When Stressful Situations Happen

Airports are often bustling hubs of activity, with crowds of people rushing to and fro, and the constant buzz of announcements and conversations filling the air. Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, the airport experience can be a stressful one, with long lines, delays, and cancellations adding to the tension. However, there are ways to relax and unwind while waiting for your flight, and by doing so, you can make the most of your time at the airport.

One of the best ways to relax at the airport is to find a quiet spot. Many airports have designated quiet areas or lounges where you can escape the noise and crowds. These areas are often equipped with comfortable seating, charging stations, and free Wi-Fi, allowing you to recharge your devices and your mind. If you’re unable to find a designated quiet area, try to find a less crowded corner of the airport where you can sit and read, meditate, or simply enjoy some quiet time.

Stretching is another great way to relax at the airport. Sitting for long periods can be uncomfortable and make you feel stiff. Take a few minutes to stretch your legs and arms. You can do simple yoga poses or stretching exercises to ease tension and promote relaxation. If you’re not sure how to stretch, there are plenty of instructional videos available online that can guide you through a simple routine.

Listening to music is also a great way to relax at the airport. Bring along your favorite playlist or download a meditation app to help you relax. Noise-canceling headphones can also help to block out any unwanted noise and create a more peaceful environment. Alternatively, you could listen to some calming sounds, such as nature sounds or white noise, to help you relax and unwind.

Reading is a great way to pass the time and take your mind off any stress or anxiety. Pick up a book or magazine, or download an e-book onto your device. Many airports have bookstores or newsstands where you can purchase reading material. Alternatively, you could bring your own reading material from home.

Enjoying a meal is another way to relax at the airport. Treat yourself to a meal at a restaurant or grab a snack from one of the airport’s many cafes or food stands. Eating something you enjoy can help to boost your mood and make you feel more relaxed. If you have time, try to find a restaurant with a view of the runway, where you can watch the planes take off and land while you eat.

If you have a long layover or an early morning flight, taking a nap can be a great way to recharge. Look for a quiet area or a designated sleep pod where you can rest without interruption. Some airports even have dedicated sleeping areas with comfortable beds and bedding available for rent. If you’re unable to find a sleep pod or designated sleeping area, you could try using an eye mask and earplugs to help block out any light and noise.

Walking around the airport can be a great way to get some exercise and relieve stress. Many airports have walking paths or designated walking areas where you can stretch your legs. Walking can help to improve circulation, reduce stress, and boost your mood. If you’re traveling with a companion, walking around the airport can also be a fun and enjoyable way to pass the time.

Finally, some airports have spas or massage services where you can relax and unwind. Treat yourself to a massage or other relaxing treatment to help ease tension and promote relaxation. These services can be a bit pricey, but they can be worth it if you’re feeling particularly stressed or tense.

In summary, there are many ways to relax at the airport, from finding a quiet spot to stretching, listening to music, reading, enjoying a meal, taking a nap, walking around, and getting a massage. Take the time to relax and unwind.

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