Leave it to the media to cause panic among travelers. The most recent “scare” is the TSA delays being reported at airports throughout the US. We are hearing horror stories of passengers missing their flights because of the long lines at the TSA check points. And it’s not just one or two passengers missing flights, but up to hundreds a day that are affected by these delays.
The potential impact on cruise clients can be enormous. We all have those clients that insist on flying in the day the cruise departs. If they miss their flight, they can miss their cruise, even if the airlines can reasonably accommodate them on a flight later in the day. If they bought travel insurance before this problem became a “known issue”, then travel insurance might bail them out, covering the costs to catch up with the ship. But now that this is a known problem, going out and buying travel insurance for an upcoming cruise may or may not save the day if your clients miss their cruise due to TSA delays.
What To Tell Your Cruise Clients
If you have any clients sailing in the near future (I’d say between now and July 1st at the very least), urge them to consider flying in the day before their cruise departure. That hotel cost will be reasonable compared to the stress of missing their flight and possibly their cruise.
Also prepare them for the worst case scenarios they may face at the airport. Instead of advising them to arrive 2 hours before departure, considering 4 hours instead. To paraphrase Dondra Ritzenthaler from Celebrity Cruises, I would rather be bored sitting at the gate compared to stressing out in the TSA line. If clients are flying with only carry-on luggage (highly unlikely for cruisers), they can arrive at the airport even earlier than 4 hours before departure. But when checking luggage, most airlines do not allow passengers to check their luggage any earlier than 4 hours before the scheduled departure time. Arriving much more than 4 hours early will not help them get a jump start on the TSA line debacle.
How About Future Cruisers?
This will fit well into your arsenal of stories, even for future cruisers. Use these stories of TSA delays as an example of:
(1) why passengers should always fly in the day before the cruise departs,
(2) why passengers should purchase travel insurance before a problem arises (and insurance then won’t cover the problem under new policies), and
(3) why arriving at the airport 2 to 4 hours early is not unrealistic.
Hopefully the long lines and delays at TSA check points will evaporate and we will resume normal delays and lines soon. In the meantime, be a hero and help your clients avoid these problems as much as possible. Then in the future use this as a teaching opportunity for clients.
Susan Schaefer is the owner of Ships ‘N’ Trips Travel located in Tennessee, and specializes in leisure travel with a focus on group travel and charity fundraisers. Through their division Kick Butt Vacations, she focuses on travel for 18 to 23-year-olds. Susan can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (888) 221-1209.