August saw an increased level of chaos brought to international travellers from all walks of life, as the threat of on-going industrial disputes by transport workers and unions across the UK continued. Heathrow was thrown into turmoil on what was one of the busiest travel weeks of the year, with thousands of travellers jetting off on their summer holidays thanks to threatened walkouts by members of the UNITE workers union. Unite had previously threatened walkouts, some of which went ahead, while others were called off at the last minute. This type of action creates travel mayhem as passengers compete to make alternative arrangements. The balance between supply and demand weighs massively in favour of the latter sending last-minute transport prices rocketing on an upwards trajectory – that’s if you can even find an alternative.
For sports clubs and organisations travelling in groups, finding a spare seat here or there isn’t an option – your team needs to arrive on schedule and in unison. Several of last month’s strikes were called off at the last minute and many travellers who had paid for alternative flights discovered their original flight did in fact operate as planned, however no refunds or compensation was offered. In many cases travellers found themselves with two flight tickets, neither of which could be refunded. There were calls by outraged passengers for compensation and the reimbursement of additional expenses incurred. However, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) stated that passengers are not automatically entitled to compensation as industrial action carried out by airport workers is considered to be out of the control of airlines. The Telegraph reported that passengers who had paid more than £6,500 for their flight from Heathrow were being advised to travel to Manchester and switch to an alternative, however neither the airline or Heathrow would actually confirm if the original London flight would be reinstated.
When you are travelling to compete at an international event it is imperative that your key athletes and people are exactly where you need them to be. Failure to attend can lead to automatic disqualification. So how does a club or sports organisation prepare for such an eventuality?
The simple answer is it can’t. However, by delegating the management of its travel to a professional sports travel provider it can take advantage of the full protection industry licensing and bonding offers.
Travel industry suppliers are kept informed via bulletins and updates of upcoming and proposed strike action, long before the general public tend to know about such things. This enables them to hold alternate seats with other carriers or from airports that won’t be affected. They will constantly monitor the situation and keep you informed. Should the proposed action be cancelled they will ensure you travel on your original flight, releasing the contingency seats they have on hold – ensuring no additional costs are incurred by your organisation.
Should the strike action go ahead they will already have measure in place to ensure you arrive as planned. They will also process all refunds due for the cancelled flights on your behalf, so the money returns back to your club or organisation. This doesn’t just apply to international travel and flights; rail workers go on strike, union members include station workers and rail staff, both of which can impact on your travel arrangements. If protests or demonstrations are planned in cities where your people are staying a professional travel management company will provide you with safer accommodation options. Finding alternative travel arrangements for individual travellers can be an arduous task at short notice – try doing it for an entire squad or team.
With more strike action predicted to follow in the coming months what precautions is your club taking to ensure you don’t end up relegated due to industrial action?
We are offering visitors to our website a free 30 minute no-obligation review of their travel procurement process, redeemable by calling Elaine Holmes or Eric Edwards on 0113 242 2202 quoting Ref: 2019TravelReview.
Traveleads also provides access to state of the art technology enabling you to keep track of all your current and future travel projects at the touch of a button, along with access to net fares, reduced rates and other travel industry discounts that can significantly reduce the cost of all your sports and group travel.