When you’ve been deprived of something you love for an extended period, sometimes even “meh” or so-so beats nothing at all. To see how long-grounded travelers are enjoying their freedom to fly this summer, we interviewed a wide range of travelers to see if the summer of 2022 has been all it was cracked up to be.
Summer Travel Nirvana or Not Worth the Hassle?
Pam Howard, author of Our Adventure is Everywhere, traveled domestically from Indianapolis to both Las Vegas and Orlando in June. “On both of my recent trips, I was pleasantly surprised at how smoothly things ran. I had heard a lot of horror stories about baggage checking, delayed flights, long TSA lines, etc, but I didn’t encounter any of these issues on any of my four flights. The majority of people were not wearing masks, but there were a few small groups of people (or employees) that did.
“Both vacations were fantastic. Las Vegas felt very much like it did before COVID, except more expensive! Everything from soda to rooms was noticeably more expensive. It was also a little more challenging to get restaurant reservations, and there didn’t seem to be as many shows. However, the vibe felt very pre-COVID and it was still a fun trip.”
Amy Lyle‘s 10th-anniversary trip was canceled four times since 2021 due to: Covid, the Israel-Palestine crisis, war in the Ukraine, and just a few weeks ago, she and her husband were escorted off a cruise ship headed to Greece because the ship said their Covid vaccines were “too old”.
“We had no plan B, but we met an amazing local gentleman in Ravina, Italy, that helped us map out our two-week stay, which included planes, trains, and automobiles.
“Covid was almost a bad memory, no masks to be seen in the hotels, restaurants, or even on the Delta flight over. Mask requirements were in place on public transportation in Italy, but as meals, snacks, drinks, and coffee were served, masks were down.
“We were required to wear masks in the Vatican and in one museum in Parma, but other than that, it truly felt like the Covid epidemic had finally settled.”
“All six of my flight legs to and from Europe went smoothly in June and July,” said Tim Leffel, travel author and blogger at Cheapestdestinationsblog.com. “Apparently, that’s a minor miracle these days. In early June, I traveled Tampa-Gatwick-Malaga, Spain, then flew Malaga to Sofia, Bulgaria. On July 4th, I flew back to Malaga from Sofia, then on July 5th flew to Gatwick and Tampa. Security lines were long and the planes were at capacity, but no big delays.”
Ph.D. graduate student and travel blogger LaToyia Downs is a frequent international traveler. “My last vacation trip was my first international trip since the pandemic, and I was so excited. Being a graduate student, money is not in excess. I competed in academic competitions to gain the money I needed to bridge the financial gap. I wish I could say that after two years of no international travel, my vacation was everything I had imagined, but I cannot.
LaToyia’s trip started off with a bang when her flight was canceled while on her way to the airport. “There were no explanations or instructions, just a canceled flight. After arriving at the airport, I was rebooked on two more flights that were canceled, as well. Eventually, I was informed that I would not be able to make it to my destination until Monday morning. It was Thursday, and my return flight was Tuesday morning. I was surprised by the lack of options that were presented by the airline.
“My initial destination was Montego Bay, Jamaica. I booked a last-minute flight to Dallas to salvage the rest of my vacation. My experience in Dallas was great. The only downside is that I kept thinking about how much fun I would be having if I was in Jamaica.
“Out of the 8+ years that I have been traveling, this has been my worst travel experience. What made it so bad was the feeling of helplessness and disappointment. I had worked hard to get the money and sacrificed my annual vacation days.”
“Unlike pre-pandemic times, travel has changed,” says Mahima Tripathi, a leisure traveler and travel/tourism marketer from Canada. Here are eight key observations she noted on her recent round trip from Toronto to Boston.
- Accommodations looked cleaner, but wear and tear are more visible.
- Travel blogs pre-pandemic should not be used as a guide anymore.
- “I was looking for a place to store baggage on the last day before my flight. Greyhound hours online were till 5 or 6 pm; but to my surprise, they now close at 4 pm and this information is not available online. Be ready for surprises.”
- Long wait times for a taxi.
- “Uber is still around, but there were fewer cars. In Hanover, there were only two taxi services and maybe one Uber driver.”
- Restaurant service staff were inexperienced or under-trained.
- Tour frequencies were reduced.
- “Book ahead and don’t depend on last-minute plans.”
- Hotels are expensive.
- “Be prepared to increase your travel budget.”
- Priority airport lines may not feel like a priority at times.
- “When that happens, look at the regular lines and it will make you feel better.”
- Immigration lines in Canada were a nightmare.
Tim White, CEO and Founder of MilePro, shares his recent travel story. “As you’ve likely read about in the news, a tsunami of cancelations is hitting major U.S. and European airlines. I traveled from Detroit to Paris so I had to deal with the worst of domestic and international travel. One of my layovers was canceled, the other was delayed by an hour, and my luggage was missing for a day. It was an extremely frustrating and tiring experience.
“There are two big reasons that so many flights are being canceled. First, pilots are burned out. Delta Airlines pilots protested at airports in April to raise awareness about their exhaustion. This burnout also applies to flight staff as airlines have fewer employees and still have people calling off due to COVID. This is the main reason that flights have been canceled and/or delayed so much recently.
Inflation is also increasing operating costs for airlines. They’re struggling to attract new staff at current wages, which means that they have to increase wages in order to hire much-needed staff. Most airlines so far haven’t been able to do that and, therefore, don’t have enough people for their flights.”
ExpertFlyer Facebook Fans Weigh In
“I travel 2X weekly for work on several airlines. I’d say 50% of flights recently are problematic, but no cancellations throwing me off a whole day. Worst has been AA with 4-hour delay and mo compensation or meal voucher when requested.” — Rob Lawrence
“So far, all has been smooth. Leaving Kona for the mainland and having a couple hops and usually an overnight to stage along the way leaves room for issues. Southwest, American and United have done a great job getting me where I’ve been going. Always booking with a credit card with trip delay, etc. is important…even if just covering taxes on a rewards ticket.” — Grant Wiscour
“Been fabulous! American canceled a flight LEX-CLT (onward to JFK) but put me into first for the entire itinerary as an apology.” — Ben Schmidt
“Great trip to Munich in June. The only holdup was the long wait going through customs in Chicago when we returned. It caused us to miss the connecting flight. Then bad weather( tornado warning/thunderstorm) delayed the next flight by two hours. We finally got home and 9:30pm instead of 5pm.” — Christina Slusar
Click HERE to view input from our Facebook fans.