Holidaymakers remain nervous about flying this summer, say agents

Travel agents say consumers remain nervous about flying this summer amid fears staff shortages and airline cancellations will continue into this summer, with some reporting booking alterations and shifting demand.

Agents said airline cancellations during half-term, and continuing schedule changes and cancellations since then, have given some customers cold feet about travel this summer.

Stephanie Slark, director of membership services at The Travel Network Group, said flight disruptions and airport queues was one of the main topics of conversations currently between agents and their clients.

“Some customers due to travel in the summer are expressing nervousness and some are changing their holidays to avoid disruption,” she said.

Concerns about passport validity also continue to be raised by customers while call wait times to speak to suppliers remain an issue for members, she said.

Polka Dot Travel director Mark Johnson admitted: “Customers travelling this summer are phoning up and asking if their flights are safe. It is in people’s minds.”

Gary Gillespie, managing director of homeworking group Independent Travel Experts, said the group had begun to see clients cancel and change their holiday departure dates.

”There’s been a noticeable shift towards winter 2022 and 2023 bookings over the last few weeks and an increase in queries from customers concerned their holiday is going to be affected,” he said, adding that the cost of living crisis was also causing some clients to downgrade from long-haul to more affordable short-haul holidays.

Miles Morgan Travel chairman Miles Morgan said customers were “most definitely worried and concerned” but he was confident the situation would be resolved by the core summer holiday period.

He said: “I am hopeful we will be in better shape by the summer. My view is that the situation can only improve.”

The situation also continued to play into the hands of travel agents, he said. “All this mess means people increasingly need a travel agent to help them. This will be another year when moving to your travel agent will yet again be the smart move.”

Barrhead Travel president Jacqueline Dobson agreed: “Now is the perfect time to demonstrate why to book with a reputable travel agent as we have teams in place to support any clients impacted by cancelled or delayed flights.

“Referrals are on the rise because of this and, although there are some tricky conversations to be had with customers when holidays are cancelled, it’s about transparency and good communication.”

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