Flight cancellations are an unavoidable and unpredictable part of business travel. A cancelled or delayed flight can disrupt schedules, derail important meetings, and serve as a source of traveller stress and frustration. It is not a matter of if they will occur—it’s simply a matter of when.
Most recently, travellers witnessed the havoc and domino effect flight schedule changes can cause when a severe winter storm swept across the country resulting in Southwest Airlines alone canceling 60% of their flights over a two day period. Just weeks later, an FAA outage grounded flights and brought a sudden halt to all domestic departures in the U.S.
These wide-scale cancellation events demonstrate the importance of preparing your corporate travel program for the unexpected with a trusted travel management company (TMC) to implement policies and safeguards. Below, we break down why flight schedule changes pose a disruption to your business goals and how to avoid the turbulence.
Build Strong Policies to Avoid Frustrations
The best route for protecting your travellers from trip disruptions on the front end is to fully understand the stipulations and assurances a supplier may offer in case of extenuating circumstances. Cancellation and change fees vary among airlines and fare types, which is why it is important to evaluate how a supplier measures up with the goals and policies of your own corporate travel program.
A great resource for a base level, side-by-side comparison between airline policies is the U.S. Department of Transportation’s airline customer service dashboard. This one-stop shop compares important standards, such as airline customer service plans along with vital cancellation and delay information.
Once you have selected preferred travel suppliers whose policies align with your business goals, a key next step is to encourage employees to book directly through your organization’s TMC and online booking tool (OBT). This ensures that when flights are unexpectedly cancelled or delayed, employees can count on responsive support from travel advisors who understand the challenges at hand and are able to provide a solution quickly and efficiently. Furthermore, a TMC can offer tools like text alerts and mobile notifications that keep travellers informed of itinerary changes as they occur.
Track Your Unused Tickets and Credits
While a strong travel policy and TMC services can help you stay abreast of delays and cancellations, wide-scale disruptions are still unavoidable. For example, a major cause of interrupted travel is outdated technology and air traffic monitoring systems, such as the FAA outage mentioned earlier. In these scenarios, your best course of action is to work with your TMC to rebook travellers and recoup costs.
One way to do this is through having an efficient system in place for accessing and utilizing unused tickets and travel credits. As the industry saw at the onset of the pandemic when organizations faced the prospect of dealing with an unending queue of cancelled flights and altered schedules, tracking unused tickets requires both automation and an experienced team. Unused tickets that are lost, or not stored efficiently, can cost companies thousands of dollars annually.
At Direct Travel, we take the hassle out of monitoring and utilizing unused tickets. Our system automatically refunds unused tickets or stores it in a database for future travels depending on the change policies and voucher guidelines of the carrier. Through automation, we can monitor across more than 400 airlines and apply the relevant layers of policy and fee stipulations to ensure maximization of funds. This provides travel managers with more time to dedicate towards other projects without having to worry about travel credits slipping through the cracks.
Rely on Trusted Travel Services
As airlines continue ramping up to meet ongoing demand in a post-pandemic travel landscape, more challenges are expected to occur in 2023. United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby pointed to several factors causing this turbulence, including staffing shortages, vulnerable technology, and a strain on the FAA.
Rather than taking a reactive approach and waiting for flight disruptions to affect your travel program, your business can avoid frustrations with a TMC partner that understands your company’s size, scope, and goals. Notably, 79% of business travel managers reported that a partnership with a travel company yields improved processes and increased savings.
At Direct Travel, we are committed to delivering high-touch service around the clock on a global scale. Regardless of travel obstacles, your employees can move forward with confidence knowing that we are here to help through every step of the journey. Learn more about Direct Travel’s “Whatever It Takes” commitment to responsive service for your business.