Bumped, delayed or just (plane) stressed

Going back only a few years, if your flight was delayed by even an hour or two the airline, if it was half decent, would have a snack voucher for you and be ready to help out with any questions. Overnight delays were promptly taken care of, in most circumstances, and quite soon you would be on your way.
Oh how times have changed.

We fly more now, on average, than any time in the past. Cheap airlines have meant that getting on a plane to an exotic destination is not just the birthright of a few, but now the expectation of the masses. With the advent of these budget carriers old airports have been expanded and new regional airports have been created all over Europe and much of the world. This has led to a crunch in both time and space, airlines are cutting frills and shortening turnaround times, staff are expected to deal with the flying public less and less – online check in and bag drops are becoming the norm.

The number of aircraft in this equation is critical, a big organisation like British Airways, or Lufthansa, United or American Airlines can more easily bring online a spare aircraft or reroute existing flights to cope with any timetable disruption. Smaller operators simply do not have the flexibility to do this and lacking an interline agreement, where operators accept one another’s passengers in an operational necessity, will quite often have their passengers waiting a long time for a rescheduled flight.

Which brings us to the point of the matter, what do we do with ourselves during these enforced delays, and what recourse do we have?

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24 hours in Amsterdam

amsterdam

Wham, bam and thank you ma’am! Amsterdam can pick you up, throw you around like a rag doll and spit you out like yesterday’s old news in a heartbeat, never mind twenty four hours.

I had come to the capital of the Netherlands for some good old fashioned rest and recreation and, knowing the old lady a bit, got just the rewards I was looking for. Stop that you dirty minded reader! I didn’t mean the red light district (more on that later) or the ubiquitous coffee shops, although I have a few tips for the uninitiated. I meant sampling the delights of a great liberal minded capital city with so much to offer the casual tourist and taking advantage of the beautiful weather to amble about its historic waterways.

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Risk management for travellers

It’s a tough subject, when we travel abroad we often suspend our normal routines and embrace the moment. Obviously reading guidebooks, getting vaccinations and listening to government advice on the countries we visit is important but other factors can come into play that both affect our judgement on situations and also in the way we make decisions.

Understanding and acknowledging risk management may seem like too serious a topic to embrace when embarking upon a trip but it can make the difference between having a great time and averting a tragedy. How often have you read a story about an incident abroad involving backpackers or other travellers that has made you think about how you would have reacted in that situation should it have been you making the decisions?

As a professional scuba instructor with responsibility for students under my supervision I have a legal and moral duty of care to ensure that the risks they take are both acceptable and understood. As professionals we are also expected to make decisions based upon the prevailing conditions and exercise good judgment where the situation is marginal.

That is not to say we always get it right, weather conditions can deteriorate and other unforeseen events may compromise safety. The point is to manage the risk, enjoying the frisson of excitement that comes with trying a new sport or activity while remaining inside the envelope of acceptable hazards. That is the goal.

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