The story of how travel was disrupted in Europe because of the erupting Icelandic volcano is almost a thing of the past now. Most travelers have made it home and transatlantic air travel is pretty much back to normal.
Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal posed the question, “Is Travel Insurance Worth the Cost?” ( read more here )
This is a timely question, as American travelers are now assessing the unexpected additional costs they incurred. If they were traveling with a group, they are also assessing how their tour provider cared for them while they waited in limbo for the skies to clear and the runways to reopen.
For its part, Academic Travel Abroad kept its tour staff in place in two countries to ride out the delay with travelers, even though the tours had ended. ATA and its partners picked up the cost of some additional hotel nights, meals and additional activities. Travelers, understanding that they would also need to contribute to the costs, made the most of their additional days in London and Amsterdam.
Izabella Van Raalte, a long time ATA tour manager, summed up her feelings in a recent e-mail to Senior Program Manager Emma Impavido, who coordinated the company’s response and efforts to re-book travelers quickly with the help of Whitney Kulesz, Director of Travel Services:
“Thank you very much for being such a wonderful support on my recent tour. At all times I felt that I could bank on you 100 % and that you would come through which indeed you did. I looked forward to your daily “check in” phone call. ATA’s response to my request for help in getting hotel rooms at the eleventh hour was amazing. As I already told you it gave me great pleasure to be able to announce that ATA had managed to procure hotel rooms so quickly.
Emma, could you please also thank the whole team involved in back stopping for the great job they did. It takes a team to make a tour a success and I certainly felt as part of one and a great one at that.”
Academic Travel Abroad and its partner organizations actively promote the benefits of travel insurance to customers to protect their investment when the unexpected happens. Those travelers who purchased trip cancellation and delay coverage for their tours will be able to make substantial claims for reimbursement.
While none of us ever imagines ourselves the victim of a travel delay or mishap, the volcanic ash situation has reminded travelers how important it is to pick all of their travel partners wisely—from the tour company that makes the safety and well being of it customers its top priority, to the insurance company that stands by its coverage, and to the travel agent who swiftly and efficiently re-books passengers while airline websites and help lines crash through overuse.