Flight Centre says international travel bookings back to 90 percent of pre-COVID levels

"We're seeing a lot of demand for Fiji, Rarotonga/Cook Islands, Aussie and Hawaii."
"We're seeing a lot of demand for Fiji, Rarotonga/Cook Islands, Aussie and Hawaii." Photo credit: Getty Images


Travel bookings are close to fully rebounding to pre-Covid-19 levels with more people heading off to holiday destinations, but there are ongoing warnings of disruption and risks.

Flight Centre, one the country's largest travel agencies, said international bookings were back to 90 percent of what they were pre-Covid-19. 

Travel group managing director David Coombes told Checkpoint the rebound had been remarkable. 

As restrictions lowered, the first waves of travel were dominated by people visiting family and friends, but more people were now heading for holiday destinations, Coombes said.

"We're seeing a lot of demand for Fiji, Rarotonga/Cook Islands, Aussie and Hawaii."

However, widespread teething problems were blighting the rebound, as travel and aviation companies tried to meet the rapid growth in demand, juggling worker scarcity and sickness and delays as new staff were trained. 

Coombes said travellers needed to keep themselves up-to-date on the problems and how to avoid them, and he warned them to make contingency plans.

"We're seeing rescheduling of airlines at short notice because there are people getting sick, there are some quite well documented issues around luggage challenges - luggage making the next flight.

"It's a matter of being prepared, getting the best advice and weighing up how much you're prepared to travel."

Coombes especially recommended getting to the airport earlier and getting up-to-date information about how much time was needed to make connecting flights.

"You really want to talk to an expert and make sure you're leaving enough time, because that's where we're seeing sometimes luggage won't make it onto the next flight."

This was one reason people should consider that booking through a travel agent had advantages, he said.

In some cases, travel agents had specialist teams to help track down the luggage and cash-backs could help cope with lost luggage.

"There's some well-known issues on how long you might wait on [an airline] call centre to get help, as opposed to talking to your local travel agent.

"We use to say if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel, and that is even more relevant right here right now."