MANKATO — You can’t go too early.
“If you can get onto my Facebook page, you’ll see I shared what a flight attendant recommended,” said Amber Pietan of North Mankato’s Amber Pietan Travel Agency. “If your trip is under eight hours, she recommends you drive.”
Pietan said she hasn’t seen a downturn in people traveling because of travel hassles. But she does advise her clients about how to reduce the headaches encountered while on a trip.
And with 23 years experience as a travel agent, Pietan knows the ins and outs of travel.
Avoid New York City altogether is one expert tip for travelers, as airports there are short on employees. “The hard part is they’ve had quite a few people retire with COVID, or let people go, and now they’re trying to rehire and train,” Pietan said. “And it’s just taking time.”
The old rule of arriving at your airport three hours ahead of boarding time for an international flight and two hours ahead for a domestic flight still holds true, she said.
However, some travelers have followed those rules and have still encountered delays.
Ann Clark, of rural St. Peter, arrived to the Minneapolis airport 2½ hours ahead of her flight on June 15, but with the extensive lines she barely boarded her plane in time.
“I feel really sorry for the staff at MSP who were there,” Clark said. “A tour group of 20 handicapped people showed up, and one poor clerk was handling everybody else.”
Jim and Nancy Armbruster, of Mankato, took a European trip in May and experienced “flight delays, missed connections and rerouting, which was typical for many of us on the tour,” Nancy said. “We were fortunate that our luggage arrived in Budapest along with us. On our trip home, one suitcase was delayed and was delivered a day later.
“We have traveled extensively over the years, and we generally respond to unexpected events with a sense of humor and a belief that things will work out,” Nancy said. “And so far, that has been the case. While we will continue to travel, we will likely postpone any further international travel until the COVID situation and current airline disruptions have improved.”
Clark has future trips planned and said she’s paying special attention to having plenty of time to make connecting flights. She said she and a friend agreed they would rather spend aimless hours at an airport, reading and people watching than running to catch a plane.
Other tips from traveling experts are to log onto your travel vendors’ websites ahead of time to check in. If you’re flying and then going on a cruise, Pietan said to check each vendor’s app and log in.
“You’re pre-registering, you’re checking in,” Pietan said. “You’re giving them your passport information, your emergency contact information. It’s saving time. There’s quite a bit of stuff you can get typed in ahead of time and be ready to go for your trip.”
People are still eager to travel, especially after COVID halted travel plans in recent years. Many people have travel credits from 2020 to use yet, Pietan said.
“And there’s a couple of airlines I recommend they don’t go on,” she said, adding she wouldn’t name for this story but would share the information with her clients.
She also recommends people build in a cushion if they’re traveling to take a cruise. Even if you’re only headed to a port in Florida, go a day or two ahead of boarding, Pietan said.
And if you’re going on a European cruise, definitely build in a longer cushion, she said. In fact, she’s so strict about this rule that if clients dismiss her advice, she has them sign a waiver so she’s not held liable if they then miss their departure time on a cruise ship.
“It’s heartbreaking,” she said. “They didn’t make the ship, and the ship will leave without you.”