The global problem sometimes requires a local solution Leisure / Life

Stopping in Chiang Mai is not the way our 20-year-old daughter, Piper, planned to end her study abroad experience.

He left with 20 other LSU students in May to experience the LSU Global Leadership Program, which was a huge success. The problem started last week when Piper had to return home to Bangkok for the trip home. Although she felt good, she and another student tested positive for COVID. Thankfully, Ozzie Crocco, LSU’s Assistant Professor of Leadership and Human Resource Development, helped us in ways we didn’t know we needed.

He helped set up two students in a new quarantine hotel and brought them their sweets, snacks, medicines and more. She has spoken to her parents and helped them navigate the drama and trauma of the situation. We are grateful that he has gone above and beyond his teaching duties.

On the other hand, the airlines have not been helpful. Although the requirements for COVID testing were removed on Friday, the unexpected $ 975 expense of changing Piper’s return home card further complicates the card process. At this time, we still do not know for sure when he will go home, according to various international factors.

It was more difficult to take our daughter home from Thailand because of a decision I made as a parent. Over the years, we have traveled extensively in the family. It has been a priority. I handle all the logistics. I decided that, as a 20-year-old girl and that she was a mature and responsible girl, I would give her money and allow her to make travel arrangements for a foreign study experience based on her university career.

He used a third-party online travel service to book a ticket. Big mistake. First of all, the class of the reserved card has made everything a lot more difficult. Secondly, there is no online service to help you. Third, the airlines have helped, but it has been more difficult and ultimately more expensive to get their support because of the initial purchase through the third.

Corollary: We will never, ever, book airline tickets through a third-party online travel service. I spoke to two travel consultants in Baton Rouge, Cheree Scardina and Sierra Lytle, at the House of Travel, to learn more about avoiding similar problems in the future.

“If they go away from home, we recommend sponsoring the trip,” Scardina said. “A minimum policy is usually only $ 25 to $ 40 per person, and covers $ 25,000 in medical expenses.”

Lytle said she has encountered many cases of people with as many problems this week as trying to do the best thing to get our daughter back home.

“Some airlines have been more flexible and easier to operate with,” Lytle said.

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Lytle explained that the “basic economy” card (which my daughter bought) is “the lowest entry rate and offers no flexibility.”

The main cabin or economy tickets are called various things depending on the airline and mean that changes can be made and full flight credits will be granted, according to Lytle.

“So you won’t lose your investment,” Scardina said. “You can’t get a return, but you can use the investment. From COVID, they have given more maturity credits. “

Scardina explained that there was no flexible change before COVID.

“You always had to pay a $ 200 change fee,” he said. “Now, they have different classes. If you purchase a basic economy card, you do not accept any changes. We recommend that you obtain a cab ticket to allow for flexibility. Usually the price difference is less than $ 100. “

With the recent rise in COVID’s travel restrictions, who knows what will happen with greater flexibility, but here’s what I know: The next time I give my kids money to buy an international travel ticket, I recommend working with it. to buy a ticket with a local travel agent or directly with the airline.

“We like to tell our customers that we are here for them when they call us. There is nothing worse than being in a foreign country and not being able to help with the steps and working with the airlines properly, “Scardina said.” A couple of days ago, I received a message at 3am saying that someone’s train had been delayed; that’s the benefit of working with someone local. “

Lytle added that when everything is up and running well, third-party and online tickets seem to be fine.

“But when problems arise, a travel consultant comes in handy,” he said.

Despite the global nature of our daughter’s program, journey, and difficulties, having a local contact to help with logistics, drama, and trauma would have been a victory.

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