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Stranded overseas during COVID

July 22, 2020

Here’s why my travel agent was priceless...

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit travel agents hard. From the moment that COVID-19 began to impede the movement of people around the world, Australian travel agents started repatriating their clients, as well as rescheduling, rebooking, cancelling, amending and postponing their travel arrangements. Amid all of that, they've also been chasing refunds, credits and monies owed to their clients and suppliers.

It has been, without a doubt, the most challenging time in the industry's history. But crises bring out the very best in people like travel agent Briony Thomas, Director at ATAS accredited travel agency in Victoria, Tailored Travel & Cruise.

Image: Tailored Travel & Cruise’s Briony Thomas at home and abroad.Image: Tailored Travel & Cruise’s - Briony Thomas at home and abroad.


According to her clients, Jeanette and Paul, “Briony is the travel agent that everyone wishes they had. Besides booking a personalised, seamless holiday she excelled in a crisis."

Jeanette and Paul were on an Antarctic cruise in March 2020 when the first announcements about border closures were made. Briony's insightful and rapid response and attention to details proved to be decisive. "Jeanette and Paul were referred to me as clients because they wanted first-hand advice, expertise and support. I think it's safe to say they got that and a whole lot more!" says Briony.
 Image: Briony’s clients were drawn to her own personal experiences in Antarctica.Image: Briony’s clients were drawn to her own personal experiences in Antarctica.

Image: Briony’s clients were drawn to her own personal experiences in Antarctica.

The arrangements Briony made for Jeanette and Paul originally had them exploring the wonders of Argentina for a few weeks at the conclusion of their Antarctic adventure. But with increasing talk of border closures and travel disruptions, Briony contacted them aboard their cruise ship and recommended that they return home to Australia as soon as they berthed in Ushuaia, Argentina.

Even though they were immensely disappointed about the disruption to their trip of a lifetime, Jeanette and Paul agreed that a swift return home was the most prudent course of action. "By acting quickly, and making a relatively simple change to their flights, I could bring them home swiftly and safely before borders closed," says Briony. 

Or so she thought.
 Image: Jeanette and Paul happy in Antarctica before COVID-19 impacted their adventure.

Image: Jeanette and Paul happy in Antarctica before COVID-19 impacted their adventure.

Almost immediately, there was significant uncertainty around when and where their ship would dock in Argentina. Then their airline cancelled Jeanette and Paul's flights and withdrew from Buenos Aires entirely, leaving them stranded.

Briony set to work.

She quickly booked them new, one-way tickets home from Buenos Aires with LATAM via Santiago, Chile. LATAM then unexpectedly and without notifying either the passengers or their determined travel agent, cancelled the Buenos Aires-to-Santiago portion of that flight. It was the first of multiple cancellations. Once again, Jeanette and Paul were stranded.

"I was monitoring the status of their flights regularly and, at 10.00pm Melbourne time, I spotted the cancellation and set to work once more," Briony recalls.
It was early morning in Buenos Aires when Briony called Paul to tell him she had booked them on a flight departing at 2.00pm that day. She had secured the last two seats on the aircraft for them, and within an hour they had their new confirmed tickets, were packed and ready to go.

As Jeanette and Paul describe the events, "Briony constantly monitored the rapidly evolving situation, kept in contact with us and was available 24/7. We didn't need to call her as she was the one calling us with updates and alternatives. She even tracked us down in Buenos Aires, getting through to us determinedly on the hotel phone when we missed her calls to our mobile."

Jeanette and Paul made it home safely, and note that Briony's hard work and relentless attention to resolving their predicament wasn't the end of the story.
"Briony got us out of a very difficult situation. On our return, we rang to thank her for her excellent service. As well as being pleased that we were home, Briony had already started the refund process for our cancelled excursions, hotels and flights. That is fabulous service,” says Jeanette.

ATAS accredited travel agents like Briony and the team at Tailored Travel & Cruise deliver great value, professional advice and the support you need before, during and after your travels. Only the very best travel agencies in Australia bear the ATAS insignia.

Attaining ATAS accreditation is a significant achievement for any Australian travel agent. ATAS accredited travel agents have successfully completed a rigorous application process, and must meet the strictest criteria. Furthermore, they must maintain these standards of professionalism to retain their ATAS accreditation. 

ATAS accredited travel agents are required to comply with Australian Consumer Law and operate their business in accordance with the ATAS Charter and Code of Conduct.

That's experience, expertise and service you can trust.

Looking for insights from ATAS-accredited travel agents, traveller information and all things travel? Read our posts on travel books to lift your spirits, 4 reasons we love travel, and glamping: what's it all about.

Don't miss our information for travellers, for tips and advice on what to do before you depart on your holiday.

ATAS travel agents recommend that Australia passport holders register for travel alerts before they travel.
Categories - Leisure Travel 'Antarctica'

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