When travel plans go awry

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.


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 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.


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."


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."

This article was first published on January 16, 2016.
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