There are few more frustrating experiences for business travelers than getting stranded because of a cancelled or heavily delayed flight.

Industry statics reveal the problem is growing more acute, and the number of flight delays and cancellations is consistently rising every year for a whole variety of reasons, from strikes and a higher number of extreme weather events to harder-to-foresee incidents, such as the drone-related stoppage at Gatwick Airport in London in 2018. According to delay compensation specialists AirHelp, an average of 115 flights were disrupted every day in the UK this year. That equates to nearly 20% of all services.

And that’s just one country. On a global basis, there were more than 4,000 flight cancellations and 568,000 delays across the world during a 30-day period between mid-August and mid-September 2019.

Negative impact on travelers

While this demonstrates the enormous scale of the problem of flight disruption, what about the immediate impact it has on business travelers and their organizations?

There’s the natural frustration when a traveler suddenly realizes their plans are going to be seriously disrupted. That quickly moves on to thoughts about what happens next and what they need to do to get their journey back on track.

Unfortunately, there is often a lack of communication from the airline or airport. Think of any major aviation disruption in the past few years and one of the major complaints from passengers is the lack of available staff to ask about what is going on.

This is partly the legacy of airlines moving toward a “self-service” model with fewer employees on the ground at airports. And even if passengers do find someone from the airline or airport, they often don’t possess the flight information or updates that the traveler really needs.

Being stranded has a potential myriad of negative consequences for the traveler, from the stress of not being able to go on their trip and missing an important meeting or event to potentially being unable to get home in time for an important personal occasion or family celebration.

Meanwhile, organizations are faced with the costs of having an employee stranded at an airport. This often results in lost productivity, having to give them extra time off when they return and potentially missing a crucial meeting that costs the company sales and revenue down the line.

The problem can be even worse for those infrequent travelers who are not fully aware of what they should do if they are left stranded by a delay or cancellation. “Can I book another flight?” “Do I need to arrange a night in a hotel? “Is this covered by my travel policy? These are just some of the questions they face when their journey is disrupted.

A proactive solution

Finding a better way to solve these problems and reducing stress for business travelers is the guiding principle behind American Express Global Business Travel’s Proactive Traveler Care™, which has been specifically designed to make life easier for travelers when a disruption occurs.

Proactive Traveler Care automatically identifies travelers who are facing disruption to their trips and reaches out to them proactively to see if they need assistance before they even have to think about contacting us themselves.

We are constantly monitoring flights for potential disruptions. If an airline has a delay of more than one hour, or a cancellation, we receive an immediate notification and a data feed of Passenger Name Records (PNR) showing us which passengers are impacted.

Once an affected traveler is identified, they or their travel booker will be automatically contacted through an email or a text message by one of our experienced staff to determine whether the traveler requires assistance to book another flight or make other arrangements.

This means they don’t have the stress of having to queue for hours at an airport travel desk or sort out an alternative flight. It’s all taken care of, and they are often going to be rebooked straight away on the very next available flight.

This is all part of our commitment to make sure we do everything we can to assist and look after your travelers in these difficult and often very stressful circumstances.

This service works particularly well when we are able to predict forthcoming potential disruptions, such as an incoming hurricane or scheduled industrial action. In these circumstances, we can plan in advance and use Proactive Traveler Care to rebook travelers well ahead of their journeys.

Proactive Traveler Care service is also perfect for dealing with more typical day-to-day cancellations by rebooking flights for affected passengers with the minimum fuss and input from travelers themselves.

Delays and cancellations are a fact of life these days, but we can help take some of the inconvenience out of the experience with Proactive Traveler Care. Perhaps most importantly, the traveler can be assured that we have got their back and they are going to be looked after.