Local travel impacted by airline trouble
HARLAN — In recent weeks the airline industry has faced several challenges. Between weather delays and an FAA groundstop caused by a corrupt file on Wednesday, many have experienced untold travel woes.
4 Seasons Travel of Harlan has seen this impact its own customers. In the last three or four days they had a couple hundred customers, and in the coming days.
“We got really lucky that we had a slow day Wednesday,” said Steve Ineson about the latest FAA snafu, with only four people traveling that day.
The Southwest Airlines debacle was another story. The trouble started with weather delays and it appears the systems are outdated and lost ability to track where luggage, pilots and staff were, said Ineson, who spent Christmas week on hold with the airline trying to help their customers.
“We had a lot of people traveling during that time – a lot of delays, missed connections, cancellations,” he said. “Southwest Airlines has responded pretty quickly with refunds. They’ve sent refunds, as well as codes for Rapid Rewards points.”
Despite the travel challenges, Ineson said demand is really high.
“Prices on average are at least $100 higher to go to Caribbean but we are not seeing a slow down yet. People are booking like crazy,” he said. “We are doing a lot of Caribbean destinations and more cruises in the last year and a half.”
Ineson said European destinations are very popular right now.
“Everyone of the staff has multiple European trips they are working to fulfill now,” he said. “There’s a pent up demand. People who didn’t spend their money the last few years and want to see the world are doing it now.”
Ineson said airline troubles include pilot shortages.
“A lot of people ask if Southwest Airlines is going to make it through this,” he said. “The demand will be there. The airlines that came out of the pandemic received a lot of funds.”
As people continue to fly, Ineson provided some tips for people to be aware of.
“Even if I wasn’t a travel agent I would say book through an agent,” he said. “We’ve had so many calls from people booking through Kayak/Expedia and others. Frontier Airlines now has computer-based help.”
Ineson also said insurance is really important.
“There are a few different kinds of insurance depending on what you’re buying,” he said. “Especially if you’re traveling overseas I encourage people to get it.”
Another tip is to monitor your flights.
“Always check in 24 hours ahead of time, Ineson said. “If there’s a problem that’s where you’ll find out about it and you will have more time to do something about it.”
Despite the hiccups, Ineson is positive about the future.
“It should still be a good year for traveling,” he said. “It may be a slow down from the record year but still good.”