From full day ques at Sydney airport to board Qantas, to no business class lounges outside of the UK for British Airways, and Singapore using Scoot to code share , our airlines are in a mess.
Travelling right now is challenging and full of uncertainty, and some of the airline industries biggest names are falling so short of the mark for their clients. The world of flying has never been so fraught.
It is best to book flights with eyes wide open and to be prepared for the worst from the airlines before you leave home.
Travel right now is not what it used to be, and frankly, it is hard work. I am currently on my first trip to Europe in 2 years.
The Australian government locked its citizens into the country during the pandemic -so you can only imagine the excitement and hopes of anyone leaving that country coming to Europe this summer for all the the UK and Europe have to offer.
But travelling in this new world is challenging and hard work. The European governments might on the whole be putting covid to one side and moving on, but that doesn’t erase the myriad of challenges travellers are facing, especially from the airlines.
The best thing for tourists to do is read the fine print, plan ahead, and expect delays and changes. And don’t be in a hurry.
I just paid for my two children to fly to Singapore on the Singapore airlines site, and they ended up on a Scoot aircraft with the lights on flying through the night – and I paid Singapore airlines prices. Had I booked the exact same flights on Scoot, I would have paid less than half. I was shocked that Singapore airlines would stoop this low.
It took over three hours for them to check into the flight at Sydney airport which was the fate of everyone travelling on every airlines. And Qantas CEO Alan Joyce had the audacity to blame travellers saying they are not “match fit”.
A week later he came out calling for pilots to apply to work for the company admitting the company didn’t have enough after so many were dismissed during the pandemic. From what I have experienced first hand, the passengers are not the ones who are not “match fit” at all.
Last week it took me 9 hours to fly door to door to fly from Lyon to London in business class on British Airways. It was one of the worst travel experiences of my life. There was no business lounge open in Lyon, so BA gave us a £13 pound voucher for food and drinks, except there was nowhere to use it.
There was no restaurant, and no bar once we got past customs, and there was literally no way to get food apart from a vending machine for water and soft drinks, which only took cash. And we sat in the airport for more than 5 hours.
Even the automated coffee machine was not working unless you had cash but there was nowhere to get cash.
The French security at the airport were unfriendly and fastidious. And British Airways gave us multiple conflicting messages as to why the flight was delayed, and delayed and delayed.
When it finally was time to board, they let us on only to realise the plane was not in fact ready and sent us all off again. If it was Fawlty Towers, we would have been in hysterics, but this was real life travelling in Europe.
Once we were on the plane, the captain told us the delay had actually been because they had no crew and had to call in the crew. If that was indeed the case, why didn’t they tell us before we left for the airport? That way we could have done something with our time rather than sit in an airport?
Once on board, the crew were flustered and as frustrated as we were. To add insult to injury, when we finally landed in London, 9 engineers were called to the plane one after the other for the next 40 minutes whilst they tried to fit the stairs to the aircraft.
My luggage was literally the last to come off at the carousel. Never mind my status as a Platinum Frequent Flyer or my Business Class Ticket.
It meant I missed a dinner with friends, I came off the flight exhausted – and hungry. And a glance at any European newspaper this week clearly shows this is a widespread problem across multiple airlines, routes and countries.
So how do you get around this? Well you can’t. European newspapers are reporting the issue is multi faceted- and one of the problems is covid. The boarders are open and masks are off, but people including pilots are still getting it, and there are simply not enough pilots or crew to go around.
I suspect so many airline staff were fired that there are also not enough staff to contact passengers when things go wrong or replace crew or help out.
Yes – it is absolutely still worth travelling, just factor in more time, and be ready for changes to your program. Is it worth the upgrade right now? Quite possibly not. If only you could pack your own bubbly in your hand luggage.