Using a Travel Agent

At risk of upsetting hotelcomparez.com, chooseflightchooser.com and doyouwannacheapholidayornot.com and the four million other hotel and flight booking websites out there, I enlist a travel agent to book my flights and accommodation. I know! Next I¹ll probably be using a fax or riding a penny-farthing.

Of course, for zippy direct flights or domestic accommodation, yes, I do it online like everyone else, but for overseas jaunts with several connecting flights and many accommodations, perhaps even in several countries, (not uncommon in my marriage) I use a magical genie called Sandra. Sandra knows:

A) Which flights will be cheapest on which days
B) If I have any hope of upgrading with points (³no²)
C) How to avoid a 9-hour stopover in Munich en route to LA
D) The luggage restriction (0.03 Kg per person) and cost ($100 per extra milligram) on Ryanair
E) How to snaffle us a room upgrade and breakfast
F) How to prevent me from losing my money/mind when flights have been cancelled or connections missed mid-trip,
G) Which diseases I might die from/should have shots for when heading to remote places,
H) How to get special favours plebs like you and I can only dream of from her hook-ups at airlines, hotels and family-owned Greek ferry companies.
The fact that I got to H) should indicate how useful she is, but on top of that ­ she costs nothing. Travel agents don¹t cost a dang thing! Their commission comes from the travel suppliers! It sounds too good to be true, but it IS true and it¹s NOT too good, it¹s just the right amount. And for some reason, we forget that that as we sit there for hours schlepping through site after site trying to be a Self-sufficient Kings of Travel.

I gave that up after booking accommodation on a travel site called Flurp or Crumg or Swipple or something equally memorable/forgettable, and arriving at the (fully booked) hotel late at night after 32 hours of travel to discover there was no such booking, and in fact no such Flurp/Crumg/Swipple either, and our money had been sucked into a fraudulent void never to be seen again. And so I returned to travel agency-ing. ŒThey¹re professionals and they¹re there to help!¹ I declared to nobody. ŒAnd not just grandparents booking cruises!¹ I cried to the same audience. ŒPlus, I have no idea how to get to a small Borneo city that requires three small regional planes!¹

Of course, you might already know about travel agents and even have your own, but if you don¹t I highly recommend remembering they exist. And not just because they give you snazzy plastic travel wallets.

Credit to Sunday Style.

Posted in 'Travel News' on Monday 06 April 2015