If your adventures this summer involve an airline flight, be sure and include extra time in your schedule just in case you encounter delays.
In June, Belhaven residents Rob and Virginia Farr visited Venice, a city they love, and then took a small boat cruise with just 120 passengers along the Adriatic Sea coastline to Croatia and Montenegro, two countries they viewed for the first time.
The Farrs were fortunate and experienced no flight delays but still recommend travelers build time in their schedule because airlines are cancelling flights due to a shortage of pilots.
“The airline system worked well but you need to allow time,” he said. “You can’t be in a hurry. Make sure you have time reserved in your schedule. Everything is taking a little longer than you might think.”
The Farrs followed the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and wore masks on their flights.
“Any time we were in large crowds, we masked,” he said. “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
People in Italy, Croatia and Montenegro were aware of covid concerns but it wasn’t top of the mind, he said.
“When you take public transportation in Italy, you still have to mask,” he said. “They wouldn’t let you on the vaporetto in Venice without a mask.”
A few days before the Farrs were to return to the U.S., the requirement for travelers to show a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from coronavirus before boarding a flight to the U.S. was lifted.
Vicki Greenlee, owner of For Travelers Only in Ridgeland, said business isn’t quite as strong as it was before the pandemic but it’s getting there.
“People are itching to travel,” she said. “People are saying, ‘I’m so ready to get out of town. I haven’t been anywhere in two or three years.”’
The cost of travel doesn’t seem to be an issue, Greenlee said. “People are saying, ‘It is what it is. I wish it wasn’t so high but I’m going to go ahead and do it,’” she said.
Few travelers seem worried about the pandemic that wreaked havoc on the travel industry, she said, but they may feel its effects as airlines and the rest of the travel industry face a labor shortage, which often means delays.
Airlines, tour companies and cruise lines don’t have enough employees to handle reservations because many employees retired during the covid pandemic, which makes it tough to get through to make a reservation, she said. A plus for using a travel agent is that they have access to reservations software and knowledge to share, she said.
Greenlee advises travelers to check the status of their flights the day before they depart. “Be sure and check for a time change,” she said, recalling a family that scheduled a ski trip out West but failed to check the time of their flight out of Jackson and discover it had changed, a mistake that delayed their vacation by a day.
It’s always a good idea to pack a carry-on bag with essentials such as prescription medicine, toiletries and a change of clothing should one’s luggage get delayed, she said.
If possible, book a flight that departs early in the morning instead of later in the day, Greenlee said. “If you want to fly out in the afternoon and your flight is canceled, you may not have another opportunity to fly out that day,” she said.
Travel in Europe always requires a flexible schedule, Farr said.
“Things run on time but not always,” he said. “Just don’t get excited and upset and you’ll find a way through it.”
Greenlee recommends travelers purchase travel insurance because it will provide coverage during a trip because of illness, she said. “If you get covid while you’re traveling, it will cover your expenses,” she said.
LSherie Dean, director of communications, marketing and public relations for the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority, said airline passengers are encouraged to arrive at the Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport at least two hours before their departure time.
At the Jackson Airport, parking is available in the surface lot, the parking garage and the long-term lot, she said. Shuttles at the long-term lot will be frequent, she said, arriving every 15 minutes starting at 5:30 a.m.
Passengers may check their flight status by visiting www.iFlyJackson.com or by contacting their airline for the latest updates.
While it is not required, the Centers for Disease Control recommends travelers wear face coverings while in airports and on aircrafts.
Anyone unsure about what is acceptable through TSA checkpoints may visit www.tsa.gov for all requirements and list of prohibited items.
Greenlee said she’s booked travelers on cruises, with Alaskan cruises being especially popular.
“Last year, Alaska wasn’t open to visitors due to covid restrictions,” she said. “July and August are peak times for Alaskan cruises when it’s so hot here.”
Greenlee has also arranged for travelers to cruise the Great Lakes, visit numerous countries in Europe and check out wineries in Napa Valley, California.
Her current focus is spring break 2023. “We’re already booking trips for spring break,” she said.
If you plan to drive to your destination, you may find gasoline doesn’t take quite as big a bite out of your travel budget as it would have earlier this summer.
A drop in the global price of oil helped the national average for a gallon of gas to fall to under $5 as of the last week in June, according to AAA. Economic fears of a potential global recession leading to less demand for oil dropped the price to around $107 per barrel, down from $110, according to AAA.
Mike Shay, who with his wife, Leanna, has owned the Highland Village Chevron since 2005, said the price of gasoline doesn’t seem to have stopped many of his customers from filling up.
“It seems to be the same ol’, same ol,’” he said, noting that drivers have a grin and bear it attitude when it comes to gasoline because it’s something they need.
The best advice for anyone driving to a destination, Shay said, is to make sure the tires on the vehicle are properly inflated. “That will give you better gas mileage,” he said.