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by Debra Kerper
Are you ready to take off?
Finally, the time is finally here to head to a beautiful beach resort with swaying palm trees and turquoise water. Or perhaps your preferred destination is a national park or Disney World. So many choices! We are all excited to finally pull our suitcases from under the bed and dust them off. After staying home for more than a year, it’s exciting to think about going somewhere fun for a new adventure.
The first stop is the airport. Remember to call ahead to confirm your plane is departing as scheduled. The post covid travel industry is not the same as it was prior to the pandemic. Airlines had massive layoffs and/or encouraged employees to take early retirement. Now with air travel returning at an unexpected pace, airlines are caught off guard and unprepared. Previous employees either found new employment or decided to stay in early retirement. New employees hired to fill the hundreds, possibly thousands of openings require extensive training before they are qualified to work. The industry needs all levels of employees from pilots and flight attendants to gate agents, mechanics and bag handlers. As airlines struggle to meet the surge in demand, many unfortunately have to cancel flights daily. They attempt to give some advance notice, but traveler beware.
Long security lines
Going through security is my least favorite aspect of air travel under the best of circumstances and I know I’m not alone. To make matters worse, TSA lines are much longer now than before the pandemic. Many agents were laid off and found other jobs. It takes extensive training to get new TSA employees ready to work. Staff also must pass an extensive and time-consuming security check before starting their employment. Those of you with TSA Global Entry, Clear, etc., should expect delays as pre-check lines may not be open. Again, the post covid travel industry is not the one you thought you knew; there are just not enough people to work these lines. I strongly recommend you incorporate extra time into your plans to make your flight.
With baggage in tow, you might face hordes of people when you head outside for transportation to your destination resort or hotel. What’s going on? The greatly reduced number of Uber and Lyft drivers now available does not meet current demands. Want to rent a car instead? If you haven’t made a reservation in advance, chances are you won’t have much luck walking up to the counter to request a vehicle. And, if you are lucky enough to secure a car, don’t faint from the exorbitant rates! The rental car industry panicked when Covid19 hit and sold most of their fleets. The shortage of vehicles, combined with the inability to find and train staff quickly, resulted in tremendous price increases.
How should travelers proceed?
The golden rule for experienced travelers was always to plan ahead, but this line of thought is more important now than ever. Equally important, especially in our current travel climate, is to have a plan B in place in case your original plans derail. If you are someone who does not do well with having to pivot when the unexpected occurs, you might consider postponing your trip for a little while. Wait until airlines, hotels, transportation companies and tourist attractions resume operating at full capacity. Once a sufficient number of employees are back on payroll to meet the needs of the traveling public, the situation should improve. Experts predict much easier travel conditions by Fall.
The bottom line
Hospitality businesses were extremely quiet, some almost non-existent, for the past 15 months, which affected everyone involved in this line of work. Hiring new employees is tough as many moved on. In fact, instead of 20 applicants for every position, we now have 20 positions for every applicant. Be patient with the staff with whom you do interact during your travels; know they want to provide good service and that they do the best they can under very difficult circumstances. Before you invest a lot of money into a vacation this summer, make sure you understand that post Covid travel is not easy. What are your choices? You can choose to go anyway with a go-with-the-flow attitude, knowing problems will likely arise, or wait to travel until the industry rebounds fully when your trip should go more more smoothly. Only you can decide if your need for an immediate vacation outweighs your concerns about stresses you may encounter along the way.
Let us know what you decide in the comment section below!
About the author
Debra Kerper, CATA, ACC, has helped people explore the world since 1993. She owns Easy Access Travel, a Cruise Planners Franchise that is part of the American Express Retail Travel Network.
The goal of Easy Access Travel is to ensure that everyone, regardless of age or physical limitations, has the opportunity to travel. Debra, an older adult, has lived with lupus since age 20 and is a bilateral lower limb amputee. She travels extensively using various types of mobility aids (scooter, wheelchair, etc.). Debra speaks nationally about “How to Travel with Special Needs” and loves to share her expertise with everyone. Learn more at easyaccesstravel.com or call Debra at 800.920.8989.