Queensland travel agent warns of staff shortages as quarantine-free travel opens

A veteran Queensland travel agent is warning of a looming “supply crunch” as agents struggle to meet the demand from the high number of people planning an overseas holiday.

From 1am today, quarantine-free international travel into Queensland for fully vaccinated people resumed.

Travellers will not have to quarantine, provided they are fully vaccinated and have a negative COVID-19 rapid antigen test (RAT) result within 24 hours of entering the country.

The principal of Main Beach Travel on the Gold Coast, Mike Dwyer, said one in three travel agencies had closed since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020.

“We’re already struggling to service existing demand which is really just the tip of the iceberg.”

The industry veteran said people who wanted to travel overseas needed to start thinking about it sooner rather than later. 

“About half of our incoming calls are from travellers who are stranded overseas needing help to reorganise their flights home,” Mr Dwyer said.  

Great haired man wearing a white shirt and black jacket.
Mike Dwyer is concerned there’s a looming shortage of agents to service overseas travellers.(Supplied: Mike Dwyer)

“I am really concerned about our industry and the lack of travel agencies and the lack of support for the industry.

“As the demand ramps up, we are going to hit a supply crunch, because there’s not enough agents to help people make their plans.” 

Mr Dwyer opened his business in 2000 and said his focus is on servicing outbound travellers.

“Aussies have always been great travellers and many people have had their plans cancelled over the last two years.

“There’s lots of people with family in Europe who they haven’t seen for two years.”

The travel business owner said quarantine-free travel would now give more people the confidence to book a holiday.

a closed travel agency displays closed signs on its doors
Mr Dwyer says one in three agencies closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.(AAP: Mick Tsikas)

“One of the biggest impediments for travelling overseas has been the fear of coming home and quarantining for two weeks,” he said.

“Removing that restriction makes it a lot better for people wanting to get overseas.

“I think people have lost faith in the consistency of the rules so there will be a lot of nervousness still.”

Logistical challenges

Mr Dwyer said COVID-related challenges meant more people were choosing to book through a travel agent rather than handle the bookings themselves.

“Every country has its own set of rules and regulations.

“On top of that, the airlines have specific requirements about being tested either 24 or 48 hours before a flight.”

Passangers wearing face masks exit an airport tunnel
Chris Mills says it could take months for airlines to restore international connections. (AAP: James Ross)

Inbound travel 

When it comes to inbound travel, the chief executive of Queensland Airports, Chris Mills, said he was expecting a trickle, and not a flood, of international travellers to arrive in tourist destinations including the Gold Coast.

“What we’re expecting [is] from February onwards; we’re working with the airlines to get them back on restoring connections with countries that are in pretty good shape.”

Mr Mills said countries including New Zealand, Singapore, Japan and South Korea would be prioritised.  

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Men’s Basketball Heads To Rhode Island Wednesday

Saint Joseph’s (7-6, 1-1 A-10) at Rhode Island (9-4, 0-1 A-10)
Wednesday, January 12 | 7:00 p.m. | Ryan Center
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Saint Joseph’s: Roster | Schedule | Stats
Rhode Island: Roster | Schedule | Stats


• Saint Joseph’s returns to the road as the Hawks travel to Rhode Island on Wednesday for the first of two meetings this season with the Rams.

• The Hawks and Rhode Island cap the regular season with an afternoon matchup at Hagan Arena on March 5.

• The last time out, the Hawks fell to Davidson, as the Wildcats pulled away for an 88-73 decision last Wednesday.

Dahmir Bishop is coming off a 17-point performance versus Davidson.

• Bishop finished three points shy of his career-high (20 points) as he went 6-of-12 from the field, including 3-of-6 from distance, to go with six rebounds.

Jack Forrest went 5-of-7 from the floor, and 3-of-4 from three-point range, for a season-high 13 points against Davidson.

Jordan Hall added 16 points, six assists and four rebounds last Wednesday.

• Hall currently ranks third in the A-10, and ninth nationally, in assists per game (6.5).

• Saint Joseph’s 32 bench points against the Wildcats were a season-high.

• St. Joe’s was scheduled to play at George Mason this past Saturday, but the game was postponed due to health and safety protocols affecting the Patriots.

Series vs. Rhode Island: Saint Joseph’s leads 56-34
First Meeting: 12/1/51, Saint Joseph’s, 66-61
Last Meeting: 1/3/21, Rhode Island, 85-77 OT
Coach Lange All-Time vs. Rhode Island: 0-3


• Wednesday marks the 91st meeting between Saint Joseph’s and Rhode Island, with the Hawks holding a 56-34 edge in the all-time series.

• Last year, the Hawks and Rams met in an overtime thriller in which Rhode Island prevailed, 85-77.

Taylor Funk finished with 29 points and Cameron Brown had a season-high 21 points at Rhode Island a season ago.

• The Hawks enter Wednesday with a 23-20 record versus the Rams in Rhode Island.

• Saint Joseph’s 56 victories over Rhode Island rank third-most against any opponent, trailing only La Salle (72) and Temple (70) .


Saint Joseph’s head coach Billy Lange announced on Monday that Lynn Greer III has enrolled on Hawk Hill for the spring 2022 semester. A four-year starter at Roman Catholic High School, Greer III returns to Philadelphia after transferring to Saint Joseph’s from Dayton. While with the Flyers, the 6-foot-3 guard averaged 2.7 points, 1.4 rebounds and 9.0 minutes per game over 10 contests.  A three-time First Team All-Catholic honoree, Greer III led the Cahillites to two Catholic League titles and a PIAA Class 4A championship. Averaging 5.0 assists per game for his career, he finished eighth all-time in scoring at Roman with 1,392 career points. The son of Temple’s second all-time leading scorer and Big 5 Hall of Famer Lynn Greer, Jr., and grandson of Virginia State Hall of Famer Lynn Greer, Sr., Greer III spent a post-graduate year at nationally-ranked IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, before attending Dayton.


The Hawks return home to host La Salle on Monday, January 17 as part of a Martin Luther King Day doubleheader with the St. Joe’s women’s basketball team. The Hawks’ women’s team take on the Explorers at noon, while the Saint Joseph’s men’s squad and La Salle tip at 4 p.m., with both games nationally televised on CBS Sports Network.

Follow the Saint Joseph’s men’s basketball team on Instagram and Twitter and like the Hawks on Facebook.

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What should I do if my flight has been canceled or delayed?

(CNN) — It has been a tough slog for some air travelers here at the winter holidays rush — and it may not be over soon.

Citing the spike in Omicron variant cases and in some cases bad weather, airlines have been canceling and delaying thousands of flights since December 23.

While most flights are still proceeding, what if you’re one of the unlucky passengers? Here are some tips to help travelers navigate the system when flights are delayed or canceled:

Avoid getting trapped at the airport

As bad as it is to find out your flight has been delayed for a long time, or worse, canceled, it’s better to find out from the comfort of home or a hotel room and make new arrangements from there.

“Check your flight status before you go the airport. Most of these notifications are not happening at the last minute,” said Scott Keyes, the founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights. “Save yourself the drive to the airport.”
Keyes told CNN Travel in an interview on Monday that you should sign up for airlines’ free text alerts on the status of flights when you buy your ticket. You should also download your carrier’s app.

You can also put your airline and flight number directly into a Google search bar to retrieve the status that way. That’s also handy for friends or family who are on standby to pick you up.

Keyes also suggested checking the website FlightAware to track larger flight trends across country.

If you’re at the airport already

A flight information display system shows departure times at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, on Monday, December 27.

A flight information display system shows departure times at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, on Monday, December 27.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Sometimes, the delays and cancellations happen after you’ve arrived at the airport. Once the bad news has been delivered, what should you do?

Keyes said to head fast as you can to the airline agents’ desk — and get ready to multitask while you’re in line.

Fast is a key word here. “It’s going to make a difference who arrives first. It’s first-come, first-serve. Positioning yourself close to the desk can pay off,” Keyes said.

Then call up your carrier while you’re waiting. Depending on your spot in line, it might be faster to get through to a call center. “Whatever happens first, great,” he said.

Calls to US domestic numbers might have really long waits. Keyes suggested trying an international call center for your carrier instead.

“Most US-based travelers aren’t thinking to call the Canadian help line for Delta. You might get through to an agent much quicker. They can all handle your reservations just the same.”

You can also use a self-serve kiosk, American Airlines says. “Scan your boarding pass or enter your record locator to see your updated trip details. From there you can also switch your flight and print your new boarding passes.”

Attitude and research matter

Passengers wait in line to check in for their flights at the Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia, on Monday, December 27.

Passengers wait in line to check in for their flights at the Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia, on Monday, December 27.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Whether you’re dealing with an agent in person or over the phone, how you approach things can make a big difference. That starts with attitude.

“Honey attracts more flies than vinegar,” Keyes said. “Look at this from the airline agents’ perspective. They’ve been dealing with irate customers really since the pandemic began. The agent is the one who has the most ability to help you.

“Asking nicely and sympathetically is far more likely to get what you want than being a jerk about it.”

He had another tip when it’s your turn to talk to an agent about making new arrangements: “Come prepared to offer your own options already. Doing your own research is absolutely helpful.”

Your agent can expedite things if you’ve already looked up new routes and possible suggestions while you’ve been waiting. Be ready to explain what you want.

If you’ve booked through Expedia or another third-party site, you’ll have to deal through them when there’s a cancellation.

If price is the same, Keyes suggested you book directly with the airline. In case something goes wrong, “it makes it much more complicated with multiple sets of policies” when you booked via a third party.

US PIRG, a consumer advocacy group, suggests you avoid layovers when booking if possible. The more times you stop, the more chances for something to go wrong.

The group also backs up the advice from Keyes to be nice and polite to agents but also says consumers should be persistent in trying to get the situation resolved satisfactorily.

Trapped for the night

A woman and child wait for their flight alongside another traveler at Miami International Airport on Monday, December 27.

A woman and child wait for their flight alongside another traveler at Miami International Airport on Monday, December 27.

Rebecca Blackwell/AP

What do you do if it looks like you’re not going to be able to fly out until the next day and you’re not in your home city?

“Ask the airline to put you up in a hotel or give you a hotel voucher. They might do it; they might not. It’s not required by law,” Keyes said.

They’re less likely to do it if it’s weather related, he said, than if the problem is a mechanical issue with the plane or staffing issues.

Get to know policies. For instance, Delta Air Lines says it will provide a hotel voucher in some circumstances if travel is interrupted for more than four hours after the scheduled departure time when the delay is between 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Whatever you do, at least ask, Keyes said. A voucher for hotels and even ground transport and meals aren’t likely to just be offered.

You should also look up your credit card information. Keyes said your card might have passenger protections, including free hotel rooms if you’re stranded and perhaps even cover your food and taxi to the hotel. Look up what do you need to do to get reimbursed.

If your flight is delayed instead of outright canceled, you might want to weigh whether to wait at the airport. Depending your personal circumstances, hunkering down there for five or six hours might be easier than going to and from a hotel. Also, Keyes said, check whether there is a hotel within the airport.

The Points Guy advises trying to get into an airport lounge if you can, where you can recharge your phone and rest more easily.

Cancel your trip and fly later

“If you are scheduled to fly in the next week and worried about Omicron, airlines are offering free changes to your flight,” Keyes said. “If you’d like to switch your travel dates, you can change without penalty.”

He also noted that if the new travel dates are cheaper, you can get a travel credit. (Conversely, you’ll pay more if the flight is more expensive.)

“By switching a flight from the holidays to February, you’re less likely to encounter this Omicron situation. You might save yourself a couple of hundred of bucks.”

Refund entitlements for your flight

The US Department of Transportation says you are entitled to a refund of your ticket cost because of a cancellation or “significant delay” and you choose not to travel.

This is the policy regardless of the reason the airlines cancels or delays the flight. However, what “significant delay” remains open to interpretation.

According to the DOT website, “it has not specifically defined what constitutes a ‘significant delay.’ Whether you are entitled to a refund depends on many factors — including the length of the delay, the length of the flight, and your particular circumstances. DOT determines whether you are entitled to a refund following a significant delay on a case-by-case basis.”

CNN’s Gregory Wallace, Jordan Valinsky, Chris Liakos and Sonnet Swire contributed to this report.

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