From the editor
Airports…they’re like that old uncle that turns up once a year to a family gathering. Sometimes you love them…sometimes you despise them. It’s often a big enough struggle just getting through an airport and on to your flight…how am I getting there? How early should I get there? Then there are the queues, customs and getting to the correct gate in time.
So, imagine being stranded there, with no place to lay your head for two days and a measly $20 food and beverage voucher. A friend of mine (along with her partner and two kids) experienced that a couple of weeks ago at Auckland Airport…hotels all full, thanks to some concert being very popular, and they were being given sporadic (to say the least) updates on when the flight might leave, thus making it unwise for them to return to their home several hours drive away.
What airlines do, on the whole, is phenomenal when you think about it. Many years ago a cabin crew member, recognising my restlessness as we were heading through some rough turbulence, told me some sage advice…”At any one time the population of Australia is flying above the planet – so your odds are pretty good Mr. Dickson.”
But, communication (or severe lack of it) as experienced by my friend and her family, is not unusual for many, many airlines. So why? Surely they train staff to cope with this…and the answer is ‘Yes…of course’ – but we read and hear regularly that airlines need to work on their communication when there is a problem or a delay.
I went through a similar experience to that of my friend a few years ago (with my family) at Bangkok Airport and it taught me a few things I never want to have to re-enact. • Take notes on what the airline staff are telling you (better still record the updates on your phone) • Get the contact details for as many fellow passengers as possible (in my case we ended up with around 200 email addresses). Some of us were being told different things to others • If practical appoint a ‘middleman’, or a small group, who can get all updates and convey to everyone – that’s if the airline don’t • Make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance BEFORE you go • Don’t accept the meager offerings that many airlines will throw at you e.g the much vaunted food and beverage voucher – stay as a group and insist on better service whilst you are in limbo. One woman in our group couldn’t even get baby milk formula for her toddler • Stay calm…it will all work out in the end If all that doesn’t work do what I did and threaten to take them to Fair Go. Rant over! In this bumper issue Shane Boocock checks out one of his favourite destinations, Fiji; Gayle Dickson espouses the luxury at Eratap Resort in Vanuatu; Tim Roxoborgh takes us through a remote region of The Solomon Islands; and I get wined and dined in Monaco.