BEHIND A TMC:
Access to seats in a crisis
2020 saw disruptions to travel plans like never before. Many regular travellers found themselves grounded for longer periods than they ever expected, hampered by border closures and quarantine restrictions. However, for many businesses, international travel never actually came to a standstill - flights are still operational and many travellers are still on the road. This may seem shocking, but essential industries like mining, manufacturing and humanitarian work still require international travel to function.
Is it easy to get a seat?
Not only have flights have been cancelled internationally; the flights that are still operational are running with limited seat numbers. Planes that are still in the air are conscious to support social distancing as much as possible and therefore aren’t running at full capacity. If you do need to travel it can be a minefield to get a seat on a desired flight. Even when travel begins to pick up, it won't return to multiple flights a day and full planes.
On top of accessibility to seats, you must also navigate government regulations, border and airspace closures, as well as forced quarantine zones. Each country’s new and evolving entry regulations are changing daily and require research before booking. Previously, where booking in advance as much as possible was encouraged, it’s now more advantageous to book within a week of travel to fully understand the situation.
What does this mean?
Due to lockdowns slowly being lifted in various countries and businesses itching to get back to normal, the demand for travel will steadily pick up. Where you plan to go and the route you choose can have a huge impact on whether you can actually book and even get there. This is a time where expertise and understanding of the industry really begins to shine. There has always been value in having a TMC, but taking aside the benefits of time and money savings, duty of care, traveller tracking and simply someone else to do it for you, it’s a TMC’s resources and experience that will be crucial to getting people moving again.
Why use a Travel Management Company?
There’s a lot to look into at this time. A LOT. If it’s not your full time job to understand the travel industry and know where to look when you have questions, it can be nearly impossible to get the right things booked.
Using a TMC, you have a Travel Expert who has access to a GDS (Global Distribution System ) which links through to the airline’s system directly. They are able to use this to see when flights are scheduled, availability on those flights and any changes or delays that come through. Our Travel Experts are encouraged to check in with IATA (International Air Transport Association)’s database, which houses the most up to date official travel policies from each country. They also know how to check in with the airlines and other credible sources to ensure the routes are operational. On top of that there are also the rules and regulations for each country. It’s possible that countries have suspended previously issued visas during this time, or have banned entry to travellers coming from high coronavirus affected areas. So even if a flight is operating to a location and it is bookable, this doesn’t mean a traveller will be allowed entry.
There is even more to consider when travelling on a flight that has connections or layovers. With certain routes having only one or two flights a day they may be stuck with an overnight connection. And then there’s then a risk of forced quarantine in the transit city. So having an understanding of the end destination and any connecting destinations is vital. To add another layer, location-specific information is changing daily.
Making a booking at this time is completely possible BUT it is highly advised that you use a true expert with the understanding and resilience to ensure it is a manageable trip.