Expert tips for travelling right when things go wrong
How to move forward when holidays turn sour
Over the New Year, reports of Singaporean holidaymakers stuck in foreign countries due to travel disruptions surfaced.
Some were inconvenienced due to unexpected weather conditions, and others were stuck when travel plans met a bump in the road.
The New Paper spoke to travel agents and insurance companies who gave advice on what travellers can do when they meet a delay or disruption.
BOOK THROUGH AN AGENCY
Booking your holiday through an agency has its benefits, and travellers should choose a reliable agency, said Global Travel's general manager Simon Er.
He said: "People might choose to book directly online because it can be cheaper. But when you book through an agency, you are paying extra for the service, especially in times of need or emergency."
Chan Brothers Travel's marketing communications executive Rebecca Chia said that because tour agencies have long-standing relationships with airlines, they might have more influence to make arrangements in the event of unforeseen circumstances.
"This means that in times of need, we are completely assured that these partners will go above and beyond to support us," she said.
BUY TRAVEL INSURANCE
Buy travel insurance because nobody can predict what will happen and accidents do happen, said Mr Chen Yanhan, a financial adviser at a local insurance company.
Mr Chen said: "When you travel overseas, you expose yourself to a greater magnitude of risk, whether it be the different food or the unfamiliar terrain.
"You can lower that risk by purchasing travel insurance."
Travel insurance provides one with the peace of mind, knowing you are able to claim for those unplanned expenses, said Mr Geoffrey Dickman, head of marketing at insurance company DirectAsia.
He added: "(Travel insurance) can alleviate the stress of having to pay for additional personal items because of lost baggage, or an extra night's accommodation due to a delayed flight."
Ms Chia also said travellers are encouraged to register with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs when they go overseas to facilitate contact in the event of an emergency.
APPROACH TRAVEL OPERATORS FIRST
In the event of a travel disruption, approach the airline or travel operator first because they are the best people to advise you on what will happen next, said Mr Er.
He said: "They should be your first point of contact and depending on the operator, they might have alternatives for you straight away.
"(At the airports) try to get to the airline staff whichever way is faster, either at the counter or over the phone. Whatever gets you in contact with them."
DON'T BE CHOOSY
When you are given an option to get out of the delay, take it, do not be choosy, said Mr Er.
He said if other airlines or modes of transport are available - even if it requires a longer transit or a longer route - travellers "might as well take it" or continue being stuck in the delay.
Ms Chia said tour members should remain calm during disruptions and wait to receive instructions from their tour leaders or managers.
Customers on Chan Brothers' free-and-easy holidays can contact its 24-hour hotline for emergency support or to make alternative travel arrangements.
Mr Er also advised travellers to be polite when dealing with airport and airline staff.
Said Mr Er: "Who knows, they might choose to bump you up to the next flight just because you were nice to them."
Ruined holidays: From no-shows to delays
NO BUS: Mrs Geraldine Wee, her husband and their year-old son (pictured) were not picked up from their hotel in Malacca.-- PHOTO COURTESY OF GERALDINE WEE
It was a sour end to an otherwise perfect trip to Malacca for Mrs Geraldine Wee, 35, and her family.
The bus that was supposed to pick them up from their hotel lobby and take them to Singapore did not show up.
The housewife said her husband contacted the bus company, but the coach attendant disputed the family's claim and said they had not been in the lobby when she went to look for them.
The Wees, who had their year-old child with them, decided to make their own way home.
They took a taxi to the local bus terminal to find their way back to Singapore and finally reached home at around midnight on Jan 1, almost four hours later than they had initially planned.
Fortunately, after contacting the coach company's Singapore branch a few days after the incident, the Wees managed to find an amicable resolution - reimbursement for their tickets and extra costs incurred and a pair of complimentary return tickets for future trips to Malacca.
Over the holiday season, the Wees were not the only Singaporeans who encountered problems while on their trips.
Twenty-six Singaporeans who were travelling with tour agency CS Travel were stuck in Munich, Germany, and Turkey for more than three days due to flight delays caused by a snow storm in Istanbul.
The group, which consisted of six families and a guide, was scheduled to fly from Munich to Singapore on New Year's Eve, with a transit in Turkey, but the Turkish Airlines flights were delayed due to the weather.
Eventually, the tour group managed to get on a flight from Munich to Istanbul.
They returned to Singapore on SIA in two batches - 15 of them arrived on Jan 3 and the rest arrived on Jan 5.
Their check-in luggage arrived in Singapore the day after.
When contacted, Dr Ali Genc, Turkish Airlines' senior vice-president of media relations, said extraordinary weather conditions in Istanbul caused flight cancellations and diversions and there were some problems with connecting flights.
Said Dr Genc: "In accordance with relevant procedures, all the required announcements, information, instructions and accommodations have been done (for) our passengers and our staff (have) worked hard to prevent any inconvenience."
Responding to queries from The New Paper, Ms Ruth Lim, public relations director for CS Travel, said the agency worked with Turkish Airlines to get the group of 26 out of Istanbul airport as soon as flight clearance was given.