Over the last three years, travelers have experienced a substantial increase in flight disruptions. Luckily, as a Travel Manager, with the right steps and proper precautions, you can manage flight disruptions to keep your business travelers happy while on the go.
Yes, while airports are cautiously optimistic for 2022-like disruptions — due to strikes, weather, data interruptions and more — to decrease through 2023, that doesn’t change the fact that these incidences can still occur. So you’re prepared, here are five things you can do to stop flight disruptions from spoiling your traveler experiences.
1. Tell your travelers to plan ahead for flight disruptions, if possible.
Before your travelers even get on the road (or, rather, to the airport), there are ways they can go about avoiding potential flight disruptions. It’s your job as the travel manager to help them avoid flight disruptions by incorporating a few extra items within your organization’s travel management policy.
For example, there are some airports that are just notorious for delays. If possible, make it part of your policy that travelers must book flights out of or into another airport, if they have a choice between multiple airports within a destination.
For example, as Business Traveler USA reported on an AirHelp data compilation, earlier in 2023, some of the worst-performing airports in the United States included Kahului Airport in Hawaii, Reno/Tahoe International Airport and Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas. All of these airports had around a 30% disruption rate — and do you really want to take a one in three chance of your travelers’ flights being canceled or delayed? If not, you’d want to steer them away from booking flights into or out of these airports.
Need more data on worst-performing airports?
Similarly, OAG Aviation Worldwide released its most recent airport and airline punctuality report earlier this year, looking at data from around the world, and found that, in large part, many of the world’s most punctual airports (regardless of size) are in Japan, while no North American or European airports even ranked in the Top 20 for punctuality.
The highest-ranking North American mega airport, according to the report’s data, was Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. New York City’s multiple air hubs didn’t even scratch the top 10 for mega airports.
Another way that you can avoid flight disruptions ahead of even booking or traveling? Ask travelers to avoid checking into their flights as early as possible. If they do so, it could mean an extra step on your end while you’re trying to rebook them following a delay.
2. Invest in a rebooking tool or Trip Disruption Assistance.
But let’s say that your traveler has done all the right things ahead of time. They booked a flight out of a low-disruption airport and they waited until they were on their way to the airport to check in for their flight. Now, though, they’ve ended up at the airport and their flight was disrupted.
In these instances, it can help you to manage flight disruptions more efficiently if you’ve already invested in a rebooking tool or disruption management service.
For example, our preferred partner Cirium is a satellite-based flight-tracking and aviation analytics service provider that offers a range of business-related services that help us improve your travelers’ experiences through our Trip Disruption Assistance service. Using their advanced satellite data, we can provide the most up-to-date information on your travelers’ flights and schedules, keeping both Travel Managers and Travelers aware of any potential delays.
Once a flight is determined to be at risk, we start compiling alternate travel solutions for your travelers, so decisions can be made as quickly as possible, for the least disruption possible — whether that means rebooking, finding alternative travel, et cetera. Your travelers spend less time waiting around at the airport, in line, struggling to find alternative solutions, and more time actually getting to where they need to go.
3. No Trip Disruption Assistance? Make sure your travelers still know what to do.
In the event that you don’t invest in Trip Disruption Assistance to help you manage flight disruptions, you’ll want to ensure that you make it clear (well ahead of time) what your travelers should do if they’re at the airport and a disruption occurs.
For example, when should they cancel a flight and book a new one, versus waiting for a delayed flight? What should they take in terms of a refund? Should they take a proffered hotel stay from the airline? If the airline doesn’t offer such a stay, can they book one on their own? If so, where should they go and how much can they spend? Can they check into an airport lounge to wait out the delay and then expense the cost to the company?
These are all questions that can arise after a flight disruption and you should have the answers to all of them, prepared and ready, so you can easily help your travelers manage flight disruptions with as few headaches as possible.
4. Stay in communication with your travelers during a flight disruptions.
That said, while you should have all your answers for your travelers’ flight disruption questions at the ready and that info already provided to them ahead of travel, you should still make sure you’re available to them as needed. Stay in contact and ensure the traveler’s safety and location.
One great thing about partnering with a TMC like JTB Business Travel for your Trip Disruption Assistance is that we’re available for travelers and their needs 24 hours a day. Since you travel outside of regular business hours, and across different time zones, we don’t limit our availability to typical business hours. Even if it’s well after midnight and you’ve already turned in for the evening, your travelers can still reach us for all the disruption assistance that they may need.
5. Keep tabs on your travelers.
Lastly, after you’ve established communication with your travelers, following a disruption, make sure you stay in contact and monitor the situation and your traveler’s location until they do make that needed flight and they arrive at their destination. It’s all too common for an initial disruption to roll into larger, later disruptions, so it’s very likely that this is a situation you’ll need to keep an eye on and address, for hours or days to come.
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