"While most travelers were trying to get through to their airlines, I was sitting at my computer rescheduling and rerouting our clients." That's what a travel agent I know told me about coping with the disruptions of Hurricane Ike. And it raises again the issue of why — despite the Internet — so many travelers continue to rely on travel agents. Maybe you should think about doing the same.
Last year, I did a column about travel agents, explaining why many travelers — especially those who are not online — are better off using an agent than trying to make arrangements by phone. Then, I placed "assistance in a pinch" fifth in my list of reasons.
Now, I see two reasons for placing it at or near the top:
When something goes wrong — either before you leave or when you're already on your trip — a travel agent is your best source of help. Whether it's an airline snafu or a natural disaster, you often have to rebook flights, accommodations and other travel arrangements. When you have advance notice, as in the case of a permanent schedule change, you could probably do your own rescheduling. But chances are an agent could do a quicker and better job than you could.
If a passenger is forced to sit on a plane awaiting takeoff for more than 30 minutes, said passenger shall be reimbursed for said passenger's lost time at a rate equal to the hourly salary paid to the respective airline's CEO. This stipulation shall be known as the JetBlewIt rule.
Passengers trapped on the tarmac shall have the legal right to pressure the airline for relief based on the following schedule. One-hour delay: All you can drink. Two-hour delay: All you can eat. Three-hour delay: Take crew hostage. Four-hour delay: Summon tabloid media. Five-hour delay: Dangle individual crew members upside down and naked from doors.
In situations where an airline cancels a scheduled flight, said airline is required to provide private planes to all passengers who were not contacted about the cancellation before leaving their homes. If private aircraft are not available, said airline shall immediately buy all inconvenienced passengers BMWs. Amendment IV: Airline personnel manning ticket counters shall be forbidden from using the phrase "There is nothing I can do about it."
I am a travel agent....Of course I remember the reservation you booked six years ago, even though you don't have a confirmation number and you think it was made under a last name that begins with a T.
I am a travel agent....It's no problem for me to give you seven connecting non-smoking poolside suites with 2 king beds and 4 rollaways in each, and yes, it is my fault that the hotel does not have a helicopter pad.
I am a travel agent....It's obvious to me when you book your reservation for Friday, when you really mean Saturday.
I am a travel agent....Yes, I am lying when I say there are no seats left at the lowest price.