Everyone has a horrible travel experience from time to time, and often frustration can overcome the need for a logical reaction. Things go wrong, and airlines, hotels, and tour companies make mistakes.
Although you may feel helpless in the moment, there are things you can do that while they may or may not salvage your vacation can at least result in compensation which may make it possible for you make the trip again or enjoy the attraction another day.
Cancelled or Delayed Flights
From time to time and for a variety of different reasons, an airline will delay or even cancel a flight that you are counting on. Especially if you have a connection on the other end or an event you might miss, this can be extremely frustrating.
The first step is to talk to the gate agent or airline counter person and see if there is something they can or will do for you. Ask about the possibility of other flights, even on another airline. Make it clear why you need to arrive at your destination on time, and the reasons you feel it is their responsibility.
If need be, ask to talk to a supervisor and escalate your request. If you cannot get satisfaction at that stage and get a replacement flight that works for you, you can ask to file a claim for a flight refund.
While this may take some time, you can use that anticipated refund to book a flight on another airline or arrange for alternate transportation.
In the event of a long delay, especially if the airline is at fault rather than weather or another cause out of their control, you may get a whole or partial refund and still get to keep your flight once it actually takes off.
At the least, it never hurts to ask.
It’s unfortunately not that unusual to arrive at a hotel to discover they have given your room away, or accidentally downgraded you to a room you do not want. If the hotel is sold out, and the surrounding ones are busy due to a conference or events, this can be a huge inconvenience.
Initially, talk to the person in front of you. Try to stay reasonable, but determine what they might legitimately have to offer. This may mean convincing them to upgrade you at no cost, even if the room they give you would have cost significantly more. You can even ask for free nights on this visit or future ones, or reward points.
Sometimes this is not enough: you have plans in the area, and if they have completely bumped you or lost your reservation, this can be catastrophic. Ask about other hotels in the area, an immediate refund, or alternate room choices. If there are none, ask about hotels outside the area, and having the hotel cover your transportation costs.
Again, if need be, escalate your claim to the next level. Ask to speak to a supervisor or call the corporate phone number. There is almost always some way to resolve your situation, or at least make sure you are compensated for your inconvenience.
Tour Company Issues
These are often a bit trickier. An overbooked or under booked and cancelled tour may be something you cannot make up later in your trip, and it may have been a meaningful part of the reason you made the trip in the first place.
First, you need to make sure you are booking with a repeatable company. Even before you buy your tickets, check out the tour company thoroughly.
- Research online, and make sure their website it up to date. A stale site is a poor sign.
- Look at reviews on Google and travel sites. Are people pleased with their tours and service?
- Ask a local. If possible ask a local about tours and attractions. They will often know who is worthwhile and who is not.
- Use a travel agent. Travel agents not only often get better deals than you can, but they have more pull when it comes to straightening out disputes.
Once you have booked a tour, and you arrive to find an issue, check into viable options like the next available tour or alternate tours offered by the same company. While a refund may not help improve your mood much at this point, it may be your only option.
Finally, you need to write reviews of the airlines, hotels, and tours you take. If you have a poor experience, you need to share it so that other travelers are warned. If you have a great experience, you need to share that as well so that others know what to expect.
Even if you have a negative experience, and the company resolves the issue, write honestly about that. Post your review on as many sites as possible: Google, Travelocity, and Yelp to name a few. Think of how much better your experience could have been if you had known what to expect.
From time to time travel plans go wrong, and often those things are out of your hands, but what is not out of your hands is how you react to them. Try to handle the situation calmly and respectfully, searching for solutions. If a solution cannot be found or the company refuses to offer one, never be tentative to escalate your request.
When the situation is over, whether it was resolved or not, be sure to leave a review, and let others know about your experience. You’ll be helping to make the travel world a better place.