Travels with Bob
Welcome to the Summer of Air Travel Discontent
The massive influx of air travelers coupled with every aspect of air travel facing severe staffing shortages – too few planes, pilots, flight attendants, ground support staff and flight control crews – combined to create chaos this summer at U.S. airports, as well as at major European gateway airports.
In fact, thousands of flight delays, cancellations and traveler frustrations may have become the norm at least for the balance of this year and we are only now getting into the summer storm season, which also can play havoc with flight schedules.
So, here’s my list of travel tips if you are even just thinking about air travel anytime soon:
- Make sure you have TSA Pre-Check for domestic flights or for international trips, Global Entry, which also includes TSA Pre-Check. Both will help speed you through airport security check-points. Call or email me for details.
- Book flights departing earlier in the day, giving yourself a better chance of getting an alternative flight the same-day should your original flight be cancelled.
- If possible, avoid connecting flights by booking only non-stop flights even if they cost more.
- If you are flying to embark on a cruise or international land vacation, plan to arrive at least day or two in advance. You will get to experience the origination city, adjust to time zone differences and avoid the agony of missed connections should your outbound flight be cancelled.
- Download your airline’s app to your smart phone to follow the progress of your upcoming flight and always make sure your “day of travel” contact information is on your flight reservation. Some airlines may even allow flight changes using their app.
- Stuff happens when you travel, so enjoy the peace of mind provided by travel insurance. In addition to a range of trip and medical insurance benefits, it also may provide a source of help when your flight gets canceled, and you want to rebook a flight with your existing airline, or with a different air carrier, before the 200 other people in line ahead of you.
- Finally, and this should be obvious, always work with a travel professional who has your back when things go wrong. They may not be able to solve the problem but can offer a professional advice and support when you need it the most.
A GOOD DEAL FOR SOLO TRAVELERS
Traveling alone offers several advantages when you want to explore on your own or simply getaway to relax by yourself on a cruise. A major barrier to such travel is the “single supplement” fare, which can be as high as 200 percent of the double occupancy fare. Based on availability, Celebrity Cruises currently offers solo travelers select Europe, Mexican Riviera, Alaska and Caribbean sailings departing through March 2023 with no supplemental charge for traveling as a single. Call or email me for a list of available sailings.
Couples thinking about a European river cruise this fall also will find travel values available from major river cruise lines. For example, a client couple recently booked a romantic Danube River cruise seeking a balcony stateroom. The fare totaled $3,100 per person including round-trip international air.
I highly recommend river cruises on the Rhine and Danube between Thanksgiving and Christmas to experience local culture and holiday customs. It’s also a terrific way to complete your Christmas gift shopping for loved ones back home.
EU BLOCK ANNOUNCES A FEE FOR INBOUND TRAVELERS
Beginning next year, travelers from the United Kingdom, United States and Canada traveling to any of the 27 European Union countries will be required to obtain an electronic travel permit ahead of arrival. This new requirement includes travelers who do not need a visa prior to travel. The European Travel Informational and Authorization System (ETIAS) permit will cost each applicant seven euros and be valid for three years.
Meanwhile, in a move designed to protect Venice’s Renaissance antiquities from over tourism, the city plans to charge day-trippers a fee of three to ten euros for access to the city beginning in January. More than 120,000 such visitors flocked to the city Easter weekend, clogging streets and damaging the city’s infrastructure, while adding little to the economy, according to local officials. Details remain to be determined, including how to charge and enforce the fees.
Furthermore, cruise ships larger than 1,000 tons have been banned from Venice canals and lagoon since last September, leaving cruise lines scrambling to find suitable docking locations, most of which are more than an hour away by bus. If Venice is on your bucket list, I recommend spending a few nights there in a four-star hotel before departing by train to other parts of Italy.
Meanwhile, the United States will no longer honor expired U.S. passports, a practice implemented in 2020 when the passport office shutdown due to COVID. Renewing a passport currently takes eight to 11 weeks and, keep in mind, most foreign destinations require at least six months remaining on your passport when you return home.
With less than six months remaining in 2022, plenty of global travel opportunities are still available for fully-vaccinated travelers. Looking beyond this year, I am already reserving vacation plans for clients as far out as mid-2024. You will find a more than dozen special travel offers highlighted on my recently updated website. Click on the “Inspirations” page. I also hope you will explore the other travel information found on the site.