Why is Tri Travel a Nightmare Today? – Triathlete

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It’s every triathlete’s nightmare. You can only get into baggage claim to discover that your item did not arrive at your destination. Whether it’s your wetsuit, helmet, and shoes, or worse your bike, nothing puts the brakes on a race like lost equipment.

When Sarah Latonas flew from Ontario to Idaho for the 70.3 Coeur D’Alene a few weeks ago, she was horrified when she discovered her racing gear was not in the baggage claim. “When my bike bag didn’t arrive, and United couldn’t tell me where it was, I started to panic,” he said. “At that point, I was worried that the bag was gone, and I couldn’t fight back. I had never experienced anything like this.”

In desperation, he posted about his dilemma on the career Facebook group and, almost immediately, received responses from 13 different people willing to lend him his bicycle, shoes, helmet, and wetsuit.

“I was surprised at how many people immediately offered help, no strings attached,” he said. “In my experience, the Ironman community has been very strong and supportive, but the response I received was more than what I dared to expect.”

Luckily, at 9pm the night before the race, Latonas ’belongings arrived, and he didn’t have to rely on the kindness of strangers, but not everyone has been so lucky lately. Even Olympic champ Flora Duffy has found herself the victim of recent airline problems. Although he flew directly from Denver to Montreal, his bike did not get on the plane for the 70.3 Mont Tremblant. Unfortunately, he eventually unable to racebut he was not alone. Olympic silver medalist Georgia Taylor-Brown’s equipment never returned from the Montreal race in the UKand some pros trying to fly to Edmonton for the PTO Canadian Open at the end of the month said their flights had been canceled or changed.

What is the problem with airlines today?

Flights are overbooked and airlines are lacking. Thousands of flights were delayed or canceled, and there were not enough pilots, crew, and ground personnel to operate the rest. Oil prices are rising and fares are also rising.

These problems are a result of a severe lack of supply-demand. Since the pandemic began in 2020, thousands of workers have left the industry due to layoffs, employee purchases, and early retirement. The companies sold their planes and equipment to recoup costs. Now that travel restrictions have been lifted, travelers are ready again, but airlines have yet to return to full capacity at the same speed.

In June, 23% of flights were late and nearly 3% were canceled.

“Major carriers, especially the big three — United, Delta, and American — take as many pilots as they can from their regional partners, leaving regional flights without enough pilots to work, ”said CP, a flight attendant. “We don’t have enough people to work on these flights — from the pilots, to the flight attendants, to the gate agents, to the crews on the grounds. Everyone is overworked. ”

Combine these issues with the increased incidence of turbulent summer weather, and this is literally the perfect storm.

What can you do to get to your career (with all your equipment)?

After months, and even years, training for a big career, the last thing you want is for a delayed flight or missing bag to derail your plans. While most of these are out of your control, there are a few tips to increase your chances of success.

1. Learn how, and where, to book the right fare.

If a flight is oversold, and no one volunteers to give up their seat, the first people to crash are the ones who save a little money by booking on a website like Expedia, instead of booking directly through of an airline. “Never, and I mean NO, buy from a third party website,” CP said. “When you make a mistake, your airline can’t or won’t help.”

Also, purchasing travel insurance or booking with a credit card that offers similar purchase protection can help reduce financial damages if you need to rebook.

2. Check on-time statistics for your flight.

This information is available upon request, by phone, for larger airlines, or online at the Department of Travels website of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. For example, the highest arrival rates on time through April 2022 are: Delta-81.9%, United-80.9%, and Hawaiian-80.8%and the lowest are Jet Blue-53.3%, Frontier-58.4%, and Spirit-58.5% .

3. Book the first flight out in the morning (or within a few days before needing to be there).

Over the days, the likelihood of delays and cancellations increases significantly. Also, summer storms build up in the afternoon, which can cause rerouting.

“Morning flights rarely have issues,” CP said. “Also, try to fly the day before, so you give yourself plenty of time in case you make a mistake.”

4. Schedule a longer layover and limit connections.

The standard one -hour layover is no longer enough, because if there is a delay and luggage personnel are lacking, your equipment may not be able to connect. CP says a three -hour layover is the best bet to ensure your luggage arrives on your connecting flight.

“When a flight is canceled, passengers will show up on other flights, but the grounds crew doesn’t have any connection to what’s going on inside the terminal, so your bag is waiting to board your original flight, or on the next available flight, ”CP said.

Also, direct flying reduces the likelihood of losing your transit gear. Another way to help ensure your luggage arrives at your final destination is to check in early. At last minute check-in, you can fly, but your bags may not.

5. Download the airline app.

Not only can you get a virtual boarding pass and view the status of an upcoming plane, you can also track bags and make flight changes. Usually, the app will update you of a delay or cancellation before the gate agents announce, so you can get a quick on making other adjustments.

6. Get the airline to exchange (or pay for) your bags.

Under DOT regulations for domestic travel, airlines are required to pay a fee to passengers if bags are damaged, delayed, or lost. However, it won’t help if your luggage is a $ 5,000 triathlon bike, and your race is in 24 hours. If your bag has not yet arrived, file a claim as soon as possible with the airline, keep records of the employee you spoke to, keep baggage receipts, and stay in close communication. Also, ask for a phone number you can call to follow up on the status of the claim. According to the US Dept. of Transportation Fly Rightsan airline may be required to pay for the rental of replacement sports equipment if that is the case.

If a bag is lost, an airline is responsible for paying you for the contents of the bag and refunding any fees for transporting the bag. For domestic flights, the maximum amount of liability is $ 3,800, and they will likely require proof of contents.

7. Pack, and fly, smart

If you plan to use a bike box to ship your rig, consider putting items such as your wetsuit, bike shoes, and helmet in a separate bag to increase the likelihood that some of your equipment will arrive. to your destination.

Of course, always label the outside, and inside, of your bags with contact information. Consider placing a Apple AirTag, Tile, or similar tracker on your valuable luggage. Although these devices rely on Bluetooth technology for short-range tracking, there is a way to locate the device if it is farther away. For an AirTag, mark it as lost within the Apple Find My app. For a Tile, use the Notify When Found or Latest Location feature.

“Because of the chaos after COVID that is currently affecting the airline industry, I will fly three days before a race, instead of two, to give myself more buffer in case there are issues like missing bags, delays of flights, or cancellations, ”Latonas said. “I’ll also try to have more direct flights and longer layovers. I might even start carrying my wetsuit, shoes, and helmet as carry-ons, just in case.”

CONNECTION: A Pro’s Guide to Packing and Traveling With Your Bike