Now, more than ever, a holiday is a highlight of the year for many. Due to the pandemic and lockdown we were unable to jet off to our favourite destinations.
With the cost of living crisis also impacting many, sacrifices are increasingly being made to pull together money for a break by those able to do so.
Whether it’s the Continent, or a brief getaway across the Irish Sea, each year thousands of us travel for a break. That’s not to mention those who take flights for work purposes.
So, when someone’s travel plans are thwarted through no fault of their own, those responsible should be held to account.
The stories emerging from Belfast International Airport this week highlight just how airlines should not treat their customers.
In recent days three easyJet flights, along with their return journeys, were cancelled. It seems in some of these cases the situation was entirely preventable had there been some forward planning.
For instance, flights to Faro and Bristol were cancelled because crews reached their maximum working hours, leaving hundreds stranded at the airport.
This could have been predicted and extra staff could have been put on standby.
A TUI flight from Greece to Belfast was also cancelled twice due to “operational issues”.
We have heard tales of customers being unable to get through to their airline to reschedule their journeys, being offered no information regarding the situation, or problems getting alternative accommodation.
And that’s even before they can receive the compensation they are due, which is often a slow process.
If the airlines in question simply communicated effectively with their customers, promptly providing them with alternative flights and/or accommodation, they might be able to avoid losing clients, which incidents like this undoubtedly lead to.
Compensation can help, but there is no compensation for potentially months of planning down the plughole, loss of time, and missing out on events that will not happen again — an important birthday of a loved one living elsewhere, stag and hen trips.
The carriers’ staff at airports should also not be left holding the bag when those in senior positions fail to plan ahead and put contingencies in place when such situations arise.
In this day and age of easy communication, the least airlines could do when their faults impact people is to keep them up to speed and offer any assistance they can.