So, the holidays are upon us – many folk will be travelling (more than usual), some to visit family and friends, and some just to find a break and respite from Northern Europe’s chilly winter. And with the crowds come delays – it seems some days, just the tiniest little problem can set off a whole chain reaction of issues.
With that, I’d like to share five wee tips, or reminders, that you should keep in mind when dealing with the inevitable delays this holiday season.
You might think this is negative wishful thinking, but I think it’s just good common sense to have a few things with you in case you get delayed/stuck somewhere. I always have more reading material than I think I’ll need (so I can avoid overpriced airport magazine racks), and I always have an empty water bottle and snacks. Better safe than sorry I say. Dipping into a good book or watching a DVD on your laptop can help you stop stressing out.
Queues can quickly turn from long to nightmarish. One trick is to try and call the customer service centre for the airline or railway when this happens; only so many agents are at the station or airport, but companies often shift call centres when stuff really goes haywire to take extra calls, so you can often talk to someone more quickly. While sometimes they can’t always fix your problems, they can tell you what you need to know, and do things like secure seats for you an alternate flights. This has saved me on a couple of occasions – once a phone agent actually rebooked me on a different flight, sent me to the gate, and called the gate to tell them to print out my rail voucher to get me all the way home.
When delays happen, misinformation is rife. So, don’t decide on what you should do by what you overhead in the lounge – find a staff member and ask. (Sometimes easier said than done.) This is when a smartphone is invaluable – most transport providers are now providing delay updates on their websites as well as Twitter, and you can look at airport and rail websites to find out about any network wide issues.
Few realise that you have quite a few rights to vouchers and compensation when transport providers have significant delays and travel issues. EU Regulation 261/2004 is the specific policy that was enacted to cover you, and most airlines try to protect themselves by not mentioning it. Your Travel Rights has some great information about how to determine whether you are due compensation, and how to get it.
When you are dealing with a customer service agent, let’s all remind ourselves that it’s never their fault – engine parts break on their own, and front line agents are just doing their best to fix what’s happened. I’ve seen so many people lose their temper with rail or airline staff, which really doesn’t help anybody! Keep your cool and if you feel you’re due a refund or something else that most agents just don’t have the power to do, deal with it via a customer service letter when you get home. It’s just not worth the hassle en route.
Posted : Tuesday, December 14th, 2010 at 11:57
Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Seattle, Washington. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he is spending time hanging out on his own travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.