ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — News about flight cancellations and delays is no longer a surprise to anyone, but these widespread travel issues left a Roanoke family stuck on the other side of the world.
Real estate agent Curtis Burchett spoke with WFXR News, saying he and his family had flight trouble after a safari vacation in Africa.
“We took a small bush plane to Kilimanjaro and had to take a connecting flight to Dar es Salaam and that was when the problem started,” said Burchett.
Arter their arrival in the Tanzanian city, Burchett says they were supposed to stay on the plane for 45 minutes so new passengers could board.
“About an hour and a half, two hours later, they told us there was some leaking or plane repairs that were needed, so we had to disembark,” said Burchett. “At 5 a.m. in the morning, they finally told us that they were not going to be able to move forward.”
At that point, the airline made arrangements for 400 passengers to stay in a hotel.
The next day, after getting some much-needed rest and food, once again, the airline told all passengers around 5 a.m. that the plane was still not working.
The airline attempted to book new flights for all the passengers. However, Burchett’s wife, Lisa, decided to pay out of pocket and book through Ethiopian Airlines.
According to FlightAware, on Wednesday, June 29, there were a total of 639 cancellations and 5,748 delays for flights within, into, or out of the U.S.
An Abingdon travel advisor, Bonnie Webb, says they had a family of five traveling to Canada Wednesday morning and one of their flights got canceled.
According to Webb, she and her husband have not seen cancellations and delays like this in a long time.
“My husband has had this agency for over 39 years and he’s seen a lot. He has been through a lot,” said Webb. “He has seen recessions, he’s seen ups, highs, lows, and the thing that is really the most telling is just on a daily basis, we just don’t know what to expect.”
She says her best advice is to find a travel agent that has a GDS system.
This allows travel agencies to book flights for travelers. Web says the benefit of this is those specific travel advisors can help if you run into delays, cancellations, or other issues.
“We can also see what flights are available, what flights are full, what has empty seats, and we can help you almost immediately, which would prevent you from having to stand in long lines at the airport or hold times which are sometimes four to five hours,” said Webb.
Webb continues to say that one of the best practices she recommends for her clients is to use flight insurance. While she says it doesn’t cover trip cancellations for every reason, it does cover the costs if you cannot make the trip due to a health emergency.
“We are seeing more and more people purchase it. I am actually traveling next month, escorting 50 people to Europe, and I purchase it,” said Webb.
Webb says she is hopeful that things are going to turn around soon because the nature of doing business is going to prevail.
However, after Burchett’s experience traveling from Africa, he encourages you to plan your trip down to the last detail, as well as tack an extra day or two onto the trip to allow for any delays or cancellations.