It’s getting wild!
Summer travel of 2022 is following Murphy’s law: anything that can go wrong will go wrong. The surge in travel demand and shortage in staff have broken the bones of the industry, which was already on the brink of collapse after the pandemic. Europe and the U.S. are severely affected this summer. Flight delays and cancellations, lost luggage, pricey flights and rental cars, lack of cabs and transportation, and extremely unresponsive airlines have made travel an obstacle course. There is no other word to describe it—it’s a nightmare.
But after two years of downs (and more downs) of COVID-19, the urge to travel is urgent, and the demand is unlikely to subside. If you’re also thinking about braving it all, then you will serve yourself better by being realistic and prepared. It may be the perfect storm, but you can equip yourself with products and services that will make it slightly more bearable should you get caught in it.
Nothing is a guarantee this travel season, so here’s hoping that your airline takes you (and your luggage) to your destination without exhausting delays. But just in case they don’t, maybe you should invest in these products and services.
Top Picks for You
Amex Platinum Card
The American Express Platinum Card comes with a hefty annual fee of $695. It’s a significant price to pay for a credit card, but the benefits outweigh the steep cost. For one, you get access to the Centurion Lounge Network and the Delta Sky Club, which can save you a pretty penny if you fly frequently. Plus, with flights getting delayed so much this summer, it may be something that will help you be comfortable during the long wait at the airport. You also get a $200 hotel credit, a $200 airline credit, and $200 in Uber cash per year, and you also have coverage for trip delays and cancelations–which, if you use, will offset the fee. And the best part? Platinum cardholders have access to travel advisors and concierges who can help you get you a hard-to-snag restaurant reservation or the rare ticket to a sold-out event.
Travel insurance is a must-have now. It is recommended that you think ahead in case you lose your luggage, miss your flight, or have to cancel for any reason. But you should get more than just travel insurance in these strange, challenging times.
COVID-19 has proved that travelers are vulnerable. If you get sick or get into an accident while traveling, your health insurance won’t help much. Your travel insurance might assist in getting treatment locally, but if you have to be repatriated back home, it can get very, very, very expensive. That’s where Medjet comes in. The membership pays for medical transportation to bring you back home to get you treated in your home country/city. It’s a hospital-to-hospital air ambulance, so if you’re not getting the care you need or if you decide you want to recover at home, it can do that for you without paperwork or insurance claims.
Medjet has two tiers of membership—Medjet Assist offers medical evacuation for those hospitalized over 150 miles away from home; Medjet Horizon offers Assist’s features and also includes crisis response and evacuation if your life is threatened due to terrorism, natural disaster, kidnapping, wrongful detention, and crimes.
This is something you should consider, especially if you are going on an adventure trip. The short-term plans start at $99 for an individual, and you need to be a member before you set off on your trip.
Currently, there is no joy in flying. Flights are getting delayed and canceled because airlines and airports can’t meet the demands. The result? Hundreds of customers are calling their airlines for information, rebooking, and refunds. It’s not a pretty picture.
One way to feel at ease is to let someone else do the legwork for you. Cranky Concierge is a service that can assist you if the airline delays or cancels. Depending on the package type, they will monitor your flights, give you options when things go awry, help you get refunds, and even file a complaint for you if the experience has been unsatisfactory.
The basic international travel planning pack starts at $60 per person, and you can also sign up for urgent assistance in case of a delayed or canceled flight for $175 per person per incident.
Amassing points on your credit card and airline loyalty programs can come in handy. But redeeming them for flight tickets is increasingly tricky, and you often don’t get the best value. Points.me is working to change that.
Launched earlier this year (it used to be branded as Juicy Miles), Points.me is a search engine that combs through the internet to find reward flights and then gives you a step-by-step guide on how to book. Once you pick a flight that meets your requirements, you may need to transfer your credit card points to the airline program and go to the airline website to book it. You can use multiple cards to consolidate the points you need to book—another hack that Points.me will take you through.
Unlike Google Flights, this isn’t a free service. The pricing starts at $129 per year for a self-serve subscription with unlimited searches. However, you can pay for a concierge to handle everything for you for $200 per passenger–which will make the process considerably easier, especially if you’re a points and miles novice, and for those hoping to book business class.
Apple launched AirTags to help users track their wallets, keys, or other everyday items. But passengers are now using this nifty product to track their check-in luggage, which can go missing between destinations. The Bluetooth device sends wireless signals to nearby Apple products, and your iPhone uses the “Find My” app to find its location as it would with your AirPods or Apple Watch.
Airlines are losing and misplacing luggage more than ever this summer—a sea of bags were sitting ownerless at London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle, and Toronto Pearson recently. So, fliers have been tracing their possessions using quarter-sized AirTags (these have a year-long battery life, and you don’t have to charge them, so they can track your bags for however many days the airlines take to return them). You can leave one in your suitcase pocket after setting it up and keep an eye on your luggage wherever you are. However, these are also being used for nefarious purposes, and if you think you are being tracked with them, read this guide from Apple.