Bangkok, We Have a Problem

4 12 2008

 

Watching the recent news of the demonstrations at Bangkok’s airports, it’s hard not to feel sorry for those stranded and desperately trying to get home. Although most of us dream of forever lying beneath a palm tree without any plan to return home, the reality is a great deal of stress and frustration and probably a lot of unexpected cost.lax3-mw

 

The recent events in Thailand were unusual. People are occasionally delayed because of inclement weather, industrial action or disasters but rarely for as long as Thailand’s recent interruption. However, if it happens to you, what can you do?

 

When an airline’s flights are cancelled, they generally re-book you on their first available flight whether that’s later the same day, the next morning or a week later. If you’re lucky, they may re-book you on a partner airline that will get you home or to your destination a bit quicker. However, when thousands of people are affected across several airlines, it takes a long time for the back-log to be cleared by which time you’re likely sick of Pina Coladas and completely over the smell of coconut oil.

 

Contacting your airline just to find out what’s happening can be an ordeal in itself, especially in another language or in a country with a limited infrastructure. Of course, if the cause of your frustration is labour strife, there won’t be anyone for you to speak to at all! And, given the number of people in the same situation as yourself, you may well find yourself sleeping on the airport floor for a few days because hotel rooms will be precious commodities…especially affordable ones.

 

It is in situations like this that travel agents come into their own. Agents can check availability with all airlines, via indirect routes or from all airports within a reasonable distance – not just that from which you were originally scheduled to travel. They can advise you of your airline’s re-protection or refund policy or start to investigate your insurance coverage…they can also assist you with hotel reservations or transport to other airports. In some cases they may have a local contact who can help you on the ground, or they themselves may have first-hand experience of the city and be able to offer you some useful advice.

 

Although major disruptions of the magnitude of Thailand’s are very unusual, being able to actually speak to a calm, concerned and helpful friend at home can go a long way to relieving your burden of stress and help you feel less alone if ever similarly stuck. Of course, your agent may demand a box of chocolate-covered macadamias or a snow-globe of a frolicking dolphin, but that’s a small price to pay for a friend-in-need!

 

 

Photo and post by: Simon Vaughan

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