WACO, Texas — It's the busiest time of the year for traveling, but those on the move have been hit with chaos from canceled flights, lost luggage and high prices.
Bambi Eskew, the general manager of Allen Samuels House of Travel in Waco, has been in the travel agency industry for 38 years. She says this isn't the first time she has seen this many troubles but it's for different reasons. This time around she believes limited staffing in all departments and areas of travel is one of the prime reasons driving the chaos.
"Probably the biggest thing we find right now is that people are not prepared for the fact that they're gonna have long lines," she explained.
Eskew says as airports become more busy -- there is a lot of stress from travelers, especially when problems arise.
"There's less people there to help you check-in, less people who may even have the knowledge of what needs to be done if there is a problem so that's become a big issue for a lot of our customers," she said.
She believes that is when travel agents can be a huge help for not just planning your trip but also dealing with any problems.
The most common issues across the country is thousands of canceled flights. This past holiday weekend there was more than 3,000 canceled flights. Memorial Day weekend saw the same scenario and it's likely the upcoming Fourth of July weekend could see the same.
"It seems to be when they have a heavier load to those cities and the flights are not all being filled or they don't have the crew to maintain them, that's where we see most of those at," Eskew said.
The experienced travel agent says typically the airlines try hard to cancel weeks and months in advance and not day of.
"When you have a last minute day of cancellation, it's usually mechanical, or if somebody didn't show up for work, or there's some kind of last minute issue that you can't control," she said.
She says the COVID-19 pandemic taught a lot of people to pay the extra money for trip insurance.
"Whether it's a trip to Vegas, whether it's a trip to Mexico in the caribbean, whether it's a big european vacation -- insurance is always going to be there to back you up and help you," Eskew explained. "I mean whether it's the fact that you get sick with COVID, whether you've got a child who's sick, something at work that happens, an elderly parent -- insurance at least gives you the peace of mind to know that you have coverage if you need to get out of that trip."
She said you can get future trip credit or possibly your money back. Her office, Allen Samuels House of Travel in Waco, highly recommends.
Some of Eskew's tips:
- Plan a trip early
- Download airlines apps
- Arrive to airports three hours early
- Have longer layovers
- Pack patience
- Check all required documents in advance
"Cross your T's, dot your I's, be prepared, plan things out," she said.
Eskew said airline prices are up and it's hard to avoid the pocket pinch. She also says the tricks of buying airline tickets on certain days of the week or a certain time before your trip are a thing of the past.
"There's not those last minute deals that we've seen in the past," she added. "Everything in the future is going up and higher, so the better off you are to make a decision now and get something done so that you are protected and get the dates and the prices you want."
She says traveling is fun and it should be but it takes a lot of moving parts to get where you need to be.
Another bonus tip she recommends is cross-packing with someone you are traveling with in case luggage gets lost. If it does get lost, at least you'll have some items with you.