Agents call for better communications after flights disruption

Travel agents have called on airlines to communicate better with the trade during crises such as the air traffic control disruption that hit hundreds of flights on bank holiday Monday.

Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of the Advantage Travel Partnership, said: “The situation with air traffic control is likely to have had a major impact on those travelling back into the UK from overseas over the next few days.

“This busy bank holiday weekend is a popular time for families to return home before the schools return, and the issues with air traffic control will just add to the stress and anxiety for Brits flying back home.

“During these times, it’s critical that airlines remain in close contact not only with their customers, but also the supply chain – both travel agents or tour operators – so they can provide further support at such a time of heightened anxiety to enable everyone to plan accordingly.”

On X, formerly Twitter, she commented: “Glad todays Air Traffic Control tech issue has been resolved but airlines must do a better job of communicating with the entire supply chain so that everyone can focus on helping the customer.”

She also praised the BA pilot on her delayed flight from Istanbul: “Great communication from BA pilot as we board our delayed flight from Istanbul. Explaining exactly what’s happened and how they are playing catch up on flights. First ‘proper’ communication we’ve had. In these complex and highly anxious situations communication matters.”

Lisa Henning, managing director at Inspire Group, said those in the trade will have had a weekend of disruption because of the ATC issues, as well as an incident with P&O Cruises, in which Britannia broke free from its mooring and collided with a freight vessel in Majorca.

“We have been inundated with calls from worried customers and the issue is we haven’t always got the right information,” she said.

“It is crucial that airlines and organisations that are implicated in issues like this communicate effectively with the trade.

“The first port of call from most travellers is their travel agent, and 99% of the time we don’t have the information available to advise customers what to do.

“Tour operators and airlines often give emergency numbers for clients to call and the lines become so busy we can’t get through. And this is further exacerbated at weekends and bank holidays, when agents don’t always have the staff available.

“With improved communication between all parties, the industry would be able to manage these unfortunate situations much more effectively and agents could more pro-actively assist.”

Westoe Travel in South Shields tweeted: “Alice and Gillian were due to have this weekend off. Instead they have been working around the clock, dealing with customers affected by the storms in Spain, P&O cruise ship Britannia incident and the Air Traffic control delays/cancellations #westoetravel #WeAreABTAMembers”

The agency also highlighted how train operator LNER is offering free standard class travel for customers affected by the ATC issues.

Go to Source...