Those who have been reading my column know that I am a consummate traveler and always have a suitcase packed and ready for my next trip.
Though I often write of destinations to which I have traveled or some of the wonderful trips being offered by the Carson City Chamber Travel Club, it is not often that I write about how impressed I am by those who make travel possible. Many do not realize the business of travel is a 24/7 industry and most travel industry personnel are highly trained to make your travel experience a good one and to safely get you to your destination.
We often hear the grumbles — and I have been known to grumble a bit — about the airline industry: how uncomfortable the seats are, how the food is less than adequate, how the trip delays can cause havoc and other lesser complaints. When taking stock, however, transportation is the most important part of the trip. One expects to arrive safely and sometimes that takes some doing!
On my recent trip to Vietnam, I was met with travel delays caused by the weather in San Francisco. I was stuck at the Reno Airport all day and because of the unavoidable delay, missed my international connection resulting in an overnight stay at the airport and being rebooked the next day. I admit I almost cancelled my trip. I missed the whole first day of the tour and arrived very jet lagged.
This same scenario just occurred with the travelers who left on Feb. 13 to Cairo. They, too, were delayed due to weather in SFO, missed their international connection and were rebooked for a later evening flight that caused a misconnection in Frankfurt resulting in rebooking through Istanbul. What should have been an 18-hour trip turned into 48 hours with no sleep. At least I was able to overnight in a comfortable hotel.
But, they arrived at their destination safely, and so did I. We shook off our fatigue and enjoyed the rest of the trip. There are just some things airlines cannot control. Mother Nature is unpredictable causing delays and cancellations. Mechanical issues, too, can cause delays. I’d rather they fix the plane than crash.
We demand the lowest fares for the most important part of our trip. We will pay more for a one-night stay at a hotel than for a flight. There is something amiss here. Back in the day, airline travel was a privilege and comfortable. Fares were consistent and then the low cost carriers came on the scene, thanks to deregulation. People decided they didn’t care about consistency and comfort, preferring the casualness, cramped seats, and peanuts offered by the low cost airlines who continue to make passengers line up or pay extra to line up closer to the front.
Major carriers decided that if the traveling public loved those cattle-car carriers offering no frills, they could follow suit. But, somehow, that change was not accepted, and the grumbling began. During weather or mechanical delays, the airline staff are overwhelmed by passengers wanting to get to their destination. Computers make is so much easier to rebook and, when traveling on one of the major carriers with interline agreement with other major carriers, you can get to where you are going — eventually. With low cost carriers, you are stuck until “their” next flight goes, thus tour operators prefer working with the major airlines.
When you book a tour package and are delayed, the wonderful news is that the Chamber staff and tour operator staff work hard to make sure you get where you are going. As with the case of the Egypt travelers, Chamber staff worked with Collette Vacations who worked with the airlines. With me, they talked me into continuing my trip and booked my overnight stay in SFO, and I am glad they did. And, no matter the arrival time, a tour company representative is at the airport to transport the weary traveler to luxury accommodations. Yes, it is frustrating, but soon forgotten when you meet the friendly people and the incredible adventures awaiting at your destination.
I so appreciate all the effort tour operators and airlines must endure to assure trips go as smoothly as possible. Come check out the many wonderful tour offerings available by Collette Vacations and Mayflower Cruises and Tours at the Chamber office at 1900 S. Carson St., or call 882-1565
Marilyn’s next trip is to the Blue Grass Country and Blue Ridge Mountains in early May.