Lisa Russell, who runs Wanderluxe by Lisa, said she has several schedule changes every day. “It’s not just flights that are affected by the changes,” she said. “It’s also the parking and lounges – it’s so bad it’s like having to cancel the whole package and in some cases start over.”
Russell said she only had three or four changes a week before the pandemic, but now they’ve been daily. She estimated that around half of the bookings made in the past eight to 12 months have since been impacted by schedule changes.
Ruth de Avila, who runs Blue Skies and Sunnies and is a HolidaysPlease domestic worker, said she’s lent an extra pair of hands to help verify bookings given the amount of extra work from double-checking schedules .
“Every time the timetable changes, it takes at least two hours until everything is settled,” she says TTG. De Avila added that airlines need to take “a little more responsibility” for the amount of “heartache” caused to trade by last-minute changes.
Ocean Map’s Freddy Magdalani said April 2022 had been “messy”. “Some customers join pre-booked tours that don’t have enough space to move the arrival day back and forth, and sometimes you can’t get a same-day replacement for the canceled flight,” he said.
Magdalani estimated that two to three dozen of its customers have been affected by schedule changes and cancellations in recent months, mostly those flying on British Airways. Last month BA said it had “slightly reduced” its schedule until the end of May “as a precaution”.
Jeanne Lally, co-chief executive of travel agency Gosforth, said her agency had seen many flight cancellations and it was now “common to come in and find flights changed”. “It lengthens the booking process, adds complexity and erodes customer trust,” she said TTG.
Lally said the changes impacted the agency’s ability to reassure clients and ensure they are comfortable when travelling, which she described as “an essential part” of the process. “You want customers to be able to book knowing it’s going to happen — they’re nervous anyway,” she said.
“The problem is industry wide, so there must be multiple issues causing this. It’s not limited to one route or departure point, it’s nationwide.”
Lally added the travel agency is set for a “bumpy year” as the industry emerges from the pandemic. “We expected problems and we just have to deal with them. There will be some semblance of normality by the end of the year, but then again, what is normal when it comes to travelling?”