Need Help Finding Flights Home? We Can (Try To) Help!

Filed Under: Advice, Travel

It’s been a complicated few weeks for air travel, to put it mildly, and we’re hearing a lot of stories from people who are in the middle of a trip, or otherwise trying to get home, and are being stymied by the constantly changing flight schedules and entry restrictions.

Our colleague Jimmy helped my niece’s boyfriend get his ticket home to Australia changed last week, and it was shocking how much of a hassle it was to fix things that would have been easy a month ago, and I can’t imagine how difficult this is getting for casual or less-informed travelers.

As Ben mentioned earlier this week, we’re continuing to pay our people at PointsPros even as new bookings have ceased, and are giving them blog projects and other things to work on during this uncertain time.

But they’d like to do more to help in the current circumstances than sell Cameos, and there are honestly very few groups of people who have greater expertise at “figuring out complicated commercial travel scenarios.”

So there are a couple of things we can do right now, with the first one being the most important.

Repatriation flights

We are firmly on team stay home right now, and recommend that if you can stay put, you should stay put. We simultaneously recognize that this situation has caught many people worldwide unawares, and you may not be in a situation where it is safe or realistic for you to shelter-in-place for the next month or more.

If that describes your circumstances, or those of a friend/family member, we are happy to offer assistance in helping you get home, with no charge for our services (the airlines may have a fee, but we’ll communicate those to you as we work through options). To get started:

  • Go to the request form on PointsPros.com
  • Add “REPATRIATION” to the last name field (e.g., I would enter FUNK – REPATRIATION)
  • Please include the passenger names, airline, and record locator number in the comment field

To avoid any confusion, and as much as we’d like to launch OMAAT Airways, this is necessarily limited to helping you find commercial flights that may be able to get you where you need to go (or at least closer).

If you are somewhere that has closed all commercial traffic, you’ll need to work with your embassy. But otherwise we are happy to help with award flights, paid flights, finding a rental car, helping find an Airbnb to ride it out — whatever is needed to get you to a safe location.

Changing or canceling other tickets

The entire travel industry is up in the air right now, and schedules and itineraries are changing by the minute. We’re keeping a current list of operational issues, waivers, and other hotel and airline policies, and you can use that as a resource to manage and modify your own itineraries.

If, however, you have tickets booked in the next 30 days, and don’t feel like waiting on hold for two or more hours, and would rather we did, we can help with that even if we didn’t book the original ticket for a $100/ticket fee. To get started:

  • Go to the request form on PointsPros.com
  • Add “CANCELATION to the last name field (e.g., I would enter FUNK – CANCELATION)
  • Please include the passenger names, airline, and record locator number in the comment field

To be clear, most OMAAT readers should be able to adjust their own tickets using the guide linked to above. And we typically don’t like to touch itineraries we didn’t originally book, but we recognize that some people may just want to have someone else take care of things right now, and we have the bandwidth.

Most importantly, and we can’t reiterate this enough, please don’t plan to travel in the coming weeks unless it is truly essential. Just cancel it, and we can all regroup and reevaluate once the world slows down a bit. And take care of yourselves in the meantime — and we’ll keep providing Virtual Happy Hours for social and comic relief while we’re all staying home.

Comments
  1. How nice of you to offer this. A seemingly unrelated question: Is there any indication of when LIFEMILES will be on sale next? Would really appreciate a response. Best wishes David

  2. That’s very decent of you — and also makes a truly stark contrast with the approach being taken by BA’s chief exec to his salary…

  3. Lol. So you charge $100 on top of the airline cancellation fee just to be on hold to the airline.

  4. @Emily that $100 hopefully comes with the added value of someone who has loads of experience in speaking to airlines and using the right vocabulary to sway a better outcome. I would pay for that!

  5. Emily – I would assume that this would only appeal to those that either can’t be bothered or are earning in excess of $100 in the time they are not on hold. If, however you are offering a similar service for free then please do let us know.

  6. For Australians in South America contact Chimmu adventures. They are working with DFAT and LATAM to bring Australians home. I read it was cost 5000 per person. I think there are 2 flights being arranged. Flight ex Lima is almost full. Other flight is from buenos Aires. https://www.chimuadventures.com/en-au/repatriation

    They are a well known agency specialising in SA.

    For other countries, My advice if you can’t change your ticket then buy another one and ask at the airport for a refund. That’s what I did.

    For Australians in trouble smart traveller on Facebook are very responsive. Read the DFAT website for advice on what to do. Good luck.

  7. @Emily also helping someone who’s responsibilities have shifted to a new position. Supporting small businesses in this time is highly recommended.

  8. People like Emily remind you of two things. 1) no good deed goes unpunished. 2) gotta ignore them and keep moving forward.

  9. I’m going to offer my help.

    If you guys are going to do it pro bono, and opening the flood gates overwhelm you, let me know.

    I’m sure many readers here are willing to help out. Isn’t it great to spread the joy of getting stuck at home to people who isn’t home yet.

  10. A-freaking-mazing.

    You people are freaking amzaing.

    I’ve used (and paid for) the award booking service several times now (Hi Jimmy!) and could have never been more pleased.

    When my circumstances change and I can travel again, I’ll be back! I’d be back anyway, but this has made me even more loyal to your team and the fact that you’re looking out for many in the community (as well as complete strangers) for free because you *can*( says a lot about the integrity and decency of your team.

    What’s her face needs to shut up about the $100 – I’m one of those people who don’t have time, and if I needed to cancel I’d have your team do it, $100 is a drop in the bucket for those with zero time.

  11. Happy to cover that $100 to avoid staying on hold and to keep you guys working. Good initiative!

  12. Why don’t people just hire a private jet and get yourself home.
    4 of us stuck in senegal after having come out of Mauritania did so and got ourselves to Dubai. From there we negotiated to get ourselves to respective countries.
    It was costly but well worth it.
    Cheers
    Safe travels everyone

  13. This is really awesome! I’m glad to see something being done to help people. My parents are stuck on the NCL Spirit which was just allowed to dock. I found the last mileage seats on South African Airways in Business from CPT-JNB-IAD-ORD. Four hours later South African Airways grounds all intercontinental flights. It’s stressful and time consuming to find new flights.

    Again, thank you very much for offering your help!

  14. As a snarky s.o.b. that throwaway Cameo line was excellent. I’ve heard some bosses out there make their employees run all kinds of (late night) errands to earn the other half of their checks…
    For anyone stuck overseas, stay safe & get home when you can.

  15. Excellent move ! For those who crib over 100 bucks remember this can be peanuts and mean nothing for a person who is stranded and desperate to be back home with the family….

  16. We really need a like button on this page. What a great service you are offering to those in need. Thank you.

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