As Travel facilitators, it is incumbent on us to alert customers and travellers on the possible risks of flight disruptions and delays and therefore, take appropriate actions and preparations to be able to counter any eventuality.
An excellent report has been published on this topic by Amadeus, the topic of delays and disruptions. The report is titled, Shaping the Future of Airline Disruption Management, and helps us understand better, what causes delay and flight disruptions and what are some the best strategies to respond to such outcomes. TTN understands, the estimated cost to the airline industry as a direct result of disruptions is a whopping $60 billion per year. Flight delays and cancellations are not only troubling for passengers, but also for airlines and airport stakeholders.
As travel facilitators, it is incumbent on us to alert customers and travellers on the possible risks of flight disruptions and delays and therefore, take appropriate actions and preparations to be able to counter any eventuality.
What are some of the most common causes of flight disruption?
Weather: Fog, ice, snow, or heat can negatively impact infrastructure
Strike action: Staff from the airline, airport ground handling company or local public demonstrations
Third-party issues: Problems with local transport networks connecting to the airport, for example, can lead to a build-up of late passengers in departures
Crew logistics: Legal measures to protect staff can prevent them from working overtime to tackle disruption. Flight crews have duty limitations that must be observed
Natural disasters: Strain on operations involving mass evacuation during treacherous weather conditions
Civil unrest: Any threat to passenger safety will bring operations to a halt, including rioting and terrorism
Local anomalies: Regional problems – for example, animals obstructing runways
Mechanical and technical problems: Technical issues with aircraft or support systems that take time to resolve
Operational issues: Incidents affecting the airport or airline operation systems
Health: Passengers being taken ill can cause delays or the spread of a major viral infection can isolate a country or region
While understanding the factors of delay and flight disruption is helpful for taking precautionary action, insurance coverage, parallel arrangement for example, it is equally important for us in the industry to be able to communicate with customers in the most efficient manner. The Amadeus report spells out the best practices in communication should passengers be held up due to flight delay.
Facts: We need to drill down, and get the facts about what happened and decide who needs to know them.
Discreet: There will always be things we can share, and information we must hold back – whether that’s because it’s market-sensitive or security-sensitive. What we say must be truthful and accurate. Write two lists: one of things you can say, and the other of questions that may well be asked.
Speed: The companies that are proactive in telling what they know immediately are the companies that start to win back trust.
Prioritise: Put the things most important to each audience at the top of each category. How are they going to be affected, and how is their problem going to be solved?
Apologise: Some corporate lawyers say that saying sorry means admitting liability. What we’re doing is empathizing with people. The repercussions will come if we fail to say sorry.
Positive: By staying optimistic, we help people to look for the possibility of positive solutions.
Clear: Avoid vague words like 'Hopefully' and use words that cue certainty, like, 'We are…'
Update: Having a team of people who are constantly checking that the correct information is being passed on through the correct channels is essential. We need to keep on telling people what we do know, and keep updating them with the latest information, remaining calm, friendly and apologetic.
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
Published monthly by Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group, the region’s foremost trade publisher, TTN is aimed at professionals in the industry, from travel agents to airline and hotel personnel.
TTN provides in-depth and extensive coverage of relevant issues in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in other parts of the world. Travel related news, analysis, and new appointments together with information on up-coming exhibitions, marketing and promotional campaigns are presented in an innovative and striking colour tabloid.
Every issue also contains a collation of international and regional news and topical features of interest to readers.