5 Travel dramas to learn from for 2018

2018-01-02 18:00 - Kavitha Pillay
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Cape Town – The year 2017 saw a few travellers finding themselves in travel nightmares – all of which have taught us valuable lessons to become savvier travellers in 2018.

From flight bookings that went haywire and resulted in customers forking out even more to get to their destinations, to accommodation bookings that could make a person never want to leave their homes ever again, here are 5 local travel dramas - that happened to our readers – to learn from for smooth travel in 2018.

Flight bookings: Don’t make spelling errors

Did you ever have all your flight documents in place but failed to double-check your personal information or flight details on your ticket, resulting in extra charges or even a missing your flight?

It can be extremely frustrating when petty mistakes are made when it comes to travelling – especially when extra costs are incurred.

A Traveller24 reader was furious when she had to pay “R300” to Mango airlines just to change the spelling of her aunt’s surname, just so she could board her flight on time.

SEE: Flight bookings 101: Pensioner suffers costly mistake of spelling error on online booking

While the reader thinks “it’s absolutely ridiculous” to pay to make the name change, Mango airlines states the costs involved to make such an amendment on its website, under the “Change Booking” page.

According to its policy, the low-cost carrier could not verify the booking with the credit card number with which the ticket was booked.

Mango states on its website that flyers may use the airline’s website or mobi-app “to amend their flight details” and warns that “each booking amendment will incur an administration fee”.

“This fee is in addition to applicable fare changes and takes effect upon clicking the ‘Update Now’ button,” says the airline.

Click here to see Mango’s and other airlines’ policies regarding flight detail amendments.

Accommodation bookings: Check the grading

There's nothing worse than reaching your holiday accommodation to find a lack of basic amenities and all-round poor service.

With the abundance of accommodation options available online it's difficult to confirm which are honest in their descriptions and safe. This brings to light the importance of industry regulations and standards.

The Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA) is one of the bodies that establishes a "recognisable and credible globally benchmarked system of quality assurance" for accommodation, with online reviews also taken into account for a cohesive reflection of what the properties are really like. Share-accommodation sites like Airbnb also have strict codes of conduct that hosts need to adhere to before being accepted.

SEE:  New hospitality data grading to raise the benchmark of SA's tourism offering

Proof of how professionalism can slip when not held to any industry standard is the accommodation nightmare shared by a reader with Traveller24 who states that hospitality and service was lacking from the point of arrival.

The reader had to deal with filthy living conditions and incurred additional costs and a great deal of unhappiness before eventually finding another place to stay. Click here to read the full story.

SEE: PICS: 'Filthy' Magaliesburg stay shows why checking for accommodation grading is vital

To avoid nasty experiences that leave you with bad memories and a lower bank balance, it is imperative that holidaymakers check the grading of various accommodation options before settling on a place to stay.

And while the internet can be overwhelming with a myriad of options and fake news, it can also be helpful with reviews and various social platforms that will provide information that can assist accommodation seekers. One needs to take the time to do proper research and check with various sources and grading councils before finalising a booking.

Flight bookings: Missed a flight? Don’t lose your return ticket

Did you know that if you miss your first flight, airlines will cancel your return ticket?

One Kulula passenger found this out the hard way. After missing a flight, a reader assumed that the return flight will still be valid, however it was cancelled. He ended up having to buy a new, full-price ticket, but a simple phone call to the airline could have saved him money.

SEE: Flight booking 101: Missed a flight? Be sure you don't lose your return ticket as well

If you book a return flight or multiple flights on one booking, missing one flight will automatically cancel the rest of your trips - this is common practice among most airlines in the world.

Like most airlines, Kulula has a re-booking policy, which states that passengers who will miss their flight need to contact the airline's call centre ahead of their first flight to ensure their second flight isn't cancelled.

So ensure you know your airline's 'missed flight' policy, and make contact with its call centre as soon as you know you're going to miss your flight.

Travel insurance: Always get it

Many South African travellers pay valuable time and money for not having travel insurance in place and not familiarising themselves with their policies.

A reader on his way to Bali got stuck in Doha when flights were cancelled. He told Traveller24 that he spent three days in Doha "wearing the same clothes awaiting a flight without our baggage". His insurer says that all its policyholders are provided with emergency contact details - available 24/7 - should they require assistance.

SEE: Think your Bali festive season plans are dashed? Here's what you need to know

At the time of the initial closure of the island's airport at the end of November, Club Travel Marketing Manager Luana Visagie highlighted the importance of comprehensive travel insurance. “Even though not all policies cover travellers in the event of travel disruptions due to an ash cloud, it is crucial to know exactly what you are covered for.” 

According to Simmy Micheli, Travel Insurance Consultants (TIC) sales and marketing manager, if the scheduled transport is cancelled and/or pre-paid accommodation is damaged to an uninhabitable extent as a direct result of weather conditions, "TIC will reimburse the non-refundable portions of travel and/or accommodation arrangements paid by the traveller or for which the traveller is legally liable, as well as the reasonable additional travel and accommodation expenses (three-star accommodation and economy-class travel expenses) incurred by the traveller."

Nicky Potgieter, Flight Centre's Leisure Marketing Leader, says travellers must always check with their travel agent to assess whether they qualify for a refund in such instances.

ALSO SEE: Festive Season: Be vigilant, be safe warn travel insurers

If Bali’s volcano threatening to erupt on numerous occasions in 2017 wasn’t enough to prove how important it is to always have travel insurance, then we’re not sure what will convince you to buy insurance whenever you travel.

Volcano or not, ensuring that you have travel insurance is vital. It is also important to double-check the terms and conditions of your insurance, as insurance may be null and void if you knowingly travel to a destination with a natural disaster alert in place - even if you do happen to stay outside of the affected area.

Flight bookings: Check the T’s and C’s

Booking online through third parties is not uncommon, but travellers often forget that millions of people have access to the same deals and that booking in real time means that those excellent deals can be gone in an instant – even after payment is made in some cases.

This was the case when a reader booked an Emirates flight with an online travel bookings company, paid by credit card and received an SMS notification that the transaction was completed, but then received an email from the company saying that his request failed.

SEE: Online booking pitfalls: Ticket sales saga shows why you need to check the T&Cs

An Emirates spokesperson told Traveller24 that “The availability of such fares may change at a short notice based on the booking frequency. Agents booking such fares do it in real time and therefore fares are not guaranteed until the tickets are issued.

In this case, when the booking request could not be completed, the client was refunded and was not entitled to the flight ticket as the online bookings agency made the refund as per their T&C's.

Airlines also have their own T&C’s regulating bookings and travellers are advised to always read these to avoid cancellations and disappointment.

Share your travel experiences with us. Email info@Traveller24.com or tweet us@Traveller24_SA.  

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