Who you gonna call?
" If there is something strange in your neighborhood, Who you gonna call?.... If there is something weird and it don't look good, Who you gonna call? …." Ghostbusters??? No. When weather goes awry, you want to have a travel agent on your side.
Now that I have that song stuck in your head, let me explain it's relevance. I couldn't resist as I watched the new 2016 release of Ghostbusters with Melissa McCarthy this snowy weekend. Which of course as you know takes place in NYC and is practically my backyard now. Anyway, unexpected resurgence of winter wreaked havoc on the northeast particularly for those flying.
Let me share a personal story, as the VIP client that I had to get out of here on Friday was my very own daughter who needed to be in Memphis by end of night in order to make a 6am flight out of Memphis on Saturday. She had plans to travel with some other very important clients aka friends of mine for Spring Break to Punta Cana. Here is how the 24hrs prior to her departure played out…
As is customary with the impending threat of weather of this nature, the airlines will often issue a waiver to passengers allowing them to make flight changes without any extra fees to fly in a specified date window either before or after the weather event. Such a notice arrived by email on the evening of the 8th. While I did look at options and considered changing her, she had a prior acting commitment that really was not an event she needed to miss. Anyway, I continued to monitor the weather conditions and flight statuses with the airlines because as it so happened, I happened to have several clients departing over the weekend for their vacations. The forecasters weren't predicting much and just expected some slushy road conditions for the morning commute Friday. Then it happened, 8pm Thursday night I got an update on my mobile app that traffic control decided to cancel the flight. We were on the NJ Transit when the alert came through. I didn't want to waste any time and I immediately got on my cell to United to get her on another flight. The evening direct flight that I wanted her on was fully booked, so oddly enough I had to go with a morning flight. Surprisingly, it was nearly at the same time as her original flight, but now required a connection. I found this to be strange until the United employee said the cancellation had come from traffic control and had to do with where the inbound plane for the flight was coming from not the snow coming to our area. I had her rebooked before our train arrived home. All was good.
Thursday evening, I was sure to set my volume up for any air alerts as besides my daughter I had other clients departing. We become like a doctor on call, especially on the days are clients are flying. I woke several times checking my phone just to make sure nothing had come through. We were up at 5am and the roads were dry. The preceding rain before snow had not come and snow was still not expected until later in the morning. I breathed a small sigh of relief.
We made our way to the airport with relatively no traffic and flight was still scheduled on-time. The airport was a bustle of people and the TSA security line stretched the length of the terminal. My daughter had pre-check and was good to go, but I had to get a gate pass and go through the regular line in order to meet her on the other side. (her first time flying alone out of Newark) It had begun snowing by now, yet other than flights that had been cancelled the night before by traffic control, all seemed to be moving along as scheduled…until she was on the plane.
The snow decided to increase its pace and visibility dropped significantly. I didn't dare leave the airport until I knew her plane was in the air. I sat by a screen with phone in hand and waited. They had pulled from the gate, but then a delay came up of 15mins. I wasn't worried yet, but knew now her connection in Houston was going to be tight. My app finally said departed and just as I was about to breathe a sigh of relief, my daughter sent a text. "We haven't taken off. We are still sitting." I continued to wait and wait. Now knowing that any further delay would make her miss her connection in Houston. She text in panic "Mom, what do I do? I'm going to miss my flight." I told her not to worry. Once I knew the flight was in the air, I would take care of it. Of course at this point, I was praying please don't come back to the gate. The flight took off 50 minutes late and I immediately got on the phone with United once again. I had already checked the schedule of Houston to Memphis flights for Friday afternoon and got her rebooked while she was in transit. Once the agent was done handling my request it immediately uploaded the new information into the United mobile app. I had my daughter download it on her phone as well before flying. Once she arrived in Houston, her new schedule and mobile boarding pass were ready and waiting for her.
6:30pm my time I got the notice flight had landed in Memphis. As mom and travel agent I could finally relax as she and her bags had reached their destination. The remainder of my passengers departing were spared the delays that we had here in the northeast and I can report everyone is happily in destination. You see as your travel agent, I am only a call away. I am already monitoring the situation and thinking of possible solutions before the events occur. And while, I can't spare you the inconvenience, I can help you keep the stress at bay. You are never alone with an agent on your side. So, who you gonna call?
Lisa Rossmeissl is the owner of Boomerang Escapes, a home-based agency located in Old Bridge, New Jersey with agents in TN, and WI. She has been a professional travel consultant since 2008 and specializes in Australia and the South Pacific. Australia, Tahiti, Fiji, and Cook Islands are among the specialist certificates she holds. Her agency’s focus is on creating itineraries with their client’s wants, desires, and budgets in mind. She and her planners believe in getting to know the traveler to ensure they have a vacation to remember. With each planner specializing in a different market area, Boomerang Escapes can offer a wide ride of leisure vacation planning.