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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    708

    Default Use a travel agent or not???

    The question about whether to use a travel agent seems to come up somewhat often on here. We have used a travel agent for 15 years for our trips and we just had an experience this week that reminded me why that's such a great idea.

    We have always flown out of Omaha, NE as it's the closest airport and flights at the next closest airports aren't enough cheaper to justify the drive. We have always flown Northwest which has now been fully taken over by Delta so this year was going to have some changes anyway. As it happened, when we booked our trip for October about three months ago we were able to save a significant amount of money by flying out of Kansas City on AirTran rather than Delta out of Omaha. It's a three hour drive to KC versus less than an hour to Omaha. I had never even heard of AirTran but the savings was BIG and we are always up for an adventure. We normally stay overnight in Omaha the night before anyway so it didn't really impact our routine too much. We booked it and started counting, mind you that was nearly three months ago.

    Friday afternoon while at work my travel agent notified me that AirTran changed their flight schedules and we had 3 minutes to make our connection in Atlanta...yes, I said three! Now, had I booked this trip myself I might have begun to sweat and my heart rate would have taken a jump and I may have even gotten a bit dizzy. BUT, I had a great travel agent on the other end of the phone already offering me several options for fixing the situation and in less than 30 minutes she had cancelled the AirTran tickets and purchased me new ones on Delta out of Omaha for just a few dollars more...which with the savings on a few other things is quite likely turning out to be an overall decrease in the cost of the trip. All I did was make one phone call to my husband to confirm which of the options he would prefer then one phone call back to the travel agent to give her our preference and I went back to work knowing that she was handling the situation.

    Our trip countdown is still moving in the right direction...I don't think it even paused. I didn't have any panic, I did get a good laugh at that crazy situation in Atlanta though, because I knew someone with a lot of knowledge and experience was working on fixing the situation for me.

    So if you ever want to know whether it's worth using a travel agent just ask yourself what you will do if there is a glitch and you have to handle a surprise situation. I will always use a travel agent and will always be glad of it even when everything goes smooth because I know that if something had come up she would have handled it with ease.

  2. #2

    Default

    I just have one word for you.......BRAVO!
    Travel Agent to the Stars!
    Oh, sorry, got carried away.
    But I am a Couples Preferred Agent.

    CN 2003, 2005, 2008, 2011 CSS 2006, 2007 CSA 2007, 2011 CTI 2009

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    224

    Default

    sherrynchuck
    Great advice.
    We booked a trip 2 years ago to San Diego, connecting thru Houston. We figured we did not need a TA.
    Well a hurricane hit the day we were to leave and Houston airport was closed. We spent hours rearranging our flights, and talking to the airlines. We found out the hard way that from now on, we will always use a travel agent.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    344

    Default

    Wow I'm shocked to see that everyone has the same opinion as we have about using a travel agent. I also have one advantage of using a TA that no one has mentioned. In this lousy economy you're supporting a small business in your community and not sending your hard earned money to some unknown hole out in the internet.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    470

    Default

    We booked through AAA. they have been great. All we do is say what date we are going and returning and will tell them what flight. they are taking care of the rest. We have a bunch of friends going as well and they just call the AAA office and say add me to the group. No worries.

  6. #6

    Default

    We always use AAA also, and we love them. Good thing you switched from AirTran to Delta. The one thing your TA didn't tell you is that AirTran does not reciprocal baggage handling agreements with the other airlines. You would have had to retrieve your bags at baggage claim in Atlanta and then go to the other airline's ticket counter to check your bags back in, and then gone back through security. At which point you would have missed your flight even if you'd had a two-hour layover.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    398

    Default

    Wow.. that is great. I agree.. I prefer to go through a TA also. For us it is hassle free. I tell her what what we want, what our budget us and the time frame we can go with some airport options and she does all the work. I get a call back from her within 2 days after all her research with options and its all done.
    Years ago on our first trip to Jamaica (our honeymoon and when you could still travel with a bith certificate) we showed up at the airport and we could not check in for the flight because my husband had the wrong kind of birth certificate. He had the one from the hospital instead of the one from the state. I called our travel agent in a complete panic and she fixed all of the reservations which was a huge relief because we had to figure out how we were going to get a NY borth certificate from California (where we were living). Luckily we were able to call his dad who drive to Albany the next morning to get the birth certificate and over night it to us. Within 2 days we were back on the plane on our way to Couples. So it was great to have her deal with all the travel stuff during the crisis.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    47

    Default Close Call!!!!

    We used a travel agent on our upcoming trip (leave this week for CSA) and our travel agent actually caused a bit of last minute drama.......

    Being the control freak that I am, I double checked our flight info today (Saturday) for our American Airlines flight that our agent booked and sent us our itenerary for our flight to leave on Wednesday (the 30th) at midnight, arriving at CSA on Wednesday afternoon for check in. Its a good thing that I checked, because the flight on which they booked us was for Tuesday at midnight, arriving at CSA on Tuesday afternoon with reseverations not starting until Wednesday night!!!! Needless to say, of course we would have missed our flight and our vacation....

    After a little scrambling this afternoon (2 days before departure) it was all resolved, but not without having to change work schedules/car service to the airport/house care/etc.... The result ended up being an extra day of CSA at no charge and a $100 spa credit...but yikes!!!

    Moral of the story...even if you have hired a professional, MAKE SURE TO DOUBLE CHECK EVERYTHING!!!!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    708

    Default

    kybluhen,

    Our flights were AirTran all the way to Montego Bay, I even had the travel documents with the flights. And we had three hours in Atlanta on the way down so we would have made it even under the circumstances you describe. The exact point of my post was that a travel agent makes it all work out.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    708

    Default

    Loveload,

    When we make reservations for a trip our travel agent always reads everything to me outloud as confirmation before she makes the final arrangements. When the travel documents are ready if we stop in to pick them up she reads the arrangements to us again to be sure there were no changes and that they are correct. If we have them mailed to us she reads it to me over the phone. She is very careful with the details. I guess I should have clarified that a GOOD travel agent is key, there is always someone who does their job with abandon in any field. I still hold by my original statement that I will always use a travel agent. If ours ever quits I'll have to find a new one but I'll be careful about choosing another good one.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    47

    Default

    Sherrynchuck~

    I will no doubt always use a travel agent, especially when traveling internationally.... I just won't using this one ever again, which is very upsetting considering they are a Couple's recommended TA (how I found her in the first place).

    I probably should have known better when I got the original itenerary with the wrong time/date (Tuesday) for departure. When I emailed and called about this issue (back in April) I was told that they double checked and that the time/date we booked (Wednedsay) was accurate and that everything is on schedule.

    It is now Monday morning, we leave in less than 10 hours for the airport and I have still yet to recieve an updated itenerary with the correct travel information (only stressed because I don't want to get to Jamaica and not have a reservation or the right ticket for our transport from the hotel)...

    ...the good news....COUPLES is almost here!!! By the time this hits the MB we will be in paradise =)

  12. #12

    Default Travel agent

    As I travel agent I agree of course with all of you. I always tell my clients if you think you can do it on line and have no problems then by all means give it a shot. However I have heard so many horror stories from people that have done it themselves that I would never suggest it and not just because I am agent.

    I always feel so bad for clients that get screwed over because they booked online and end up not getting what they paid for in the end.

    Plus a lot of times you will save money booking through an agent as we know all the ways to save that you may not.

    I also am a platinum preferred Couples agent and love supporting this company since they are Jamaican owned and run which is not always easy to find on the island anymore with all of the big Spanish chains moving in.

    To anyone that is lucky enough to still be on the countdown I hope you all have a fabulous time...I am jealous as my trip ended two weeks ago and was probably one of my favorite trips I have ever had. I have been to Jamaica nine times now and this was definitely one of the best vacations yet.

  13. #13

    Default

    Also as a travel agent, I have to concur with shwagirl. Most of my new customers are "reformed internet bookers" as I like to call them. I think I've even mentioned before on this board, even before I became a travel agent, I used one. For me it was something about human interaction that made me more comfortable with my decision. I've also found more people that have gotten burned by internet sites than human travel agents. It's really a matter of preference and level of trust.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    783

    Default

    We always use a TA to book our trip. They usually get a package from the airline we are traveling with. I can always double check pricing, seating, and schedules directly with the airline. We usually save a little $ through a TA. I agree with helping out a local business and not some big internet conglomerate.

    Life is good

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    1

    Default

    If you are not familiar with the place you want to go to, then I would suggest that having a travel agent can be a great idea. He/She can assist you on choosing where are the best places to stay especially if you are not familiar with the location. Also make sure that you have travel insurance for your own safety.

  16. #16

    Default

    I think that on the whole, travel agents are a great idea...it's too bad that our TA hardly did any work for us, and is always too busy traveling to answer my emails. I booked our flights myself because I felt like she wasn't going to get us the best deal (and she didn't) and after we ended up changing our resort to Couples from Sandals (which was my idea after doing all of the research myself, and finding out how much more you get for what you spend), she seemed less that thrilled (she is a Sandals top TA and gets a crazy amount of benefits and perks from them). Next time, we'll look for a TA that isn't too busy to work with us and gets us the best deals she can find, regardless of the resorts she "works" for or the airlines she likes best.

    Now I'm stuck with the "Should we get insurance, should we not" question myself, because she won't answer my email and this is this is our first international trip ever, not to mention our first big trip by ourselves.
    Danielle & Mike
    ----> Honeymooned at CSA June '11!
    --------> Really can't wait to be "home" again!

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    33

    Default

    That's awesome that your travel agent was so helpful! That is the reason we use one for big trips. Though, I will tell you, they are not always great. It took us two tries before we could find someone who would work with us for a 2 week trip to Europe. Once was an independent travel agent who was highly recommended, who after several emails had no idea what I wanted (even though I told him exactly what I wanted) and tried to get us to go to the Caribbean after I told him our goal was Italy, France, and England. We then went to another agency and worked with an agent there. I felt like I did most of the work finding us hotels and such (I even booked our hotel in France because she said the deal I found on-line was better than what she could do). The trip worked out, but it really gives me a bad feeling about travel agents.

    For our CSA trip, we headed back to the travel agency(where we have booked all our Jamaican trips). So far, our agent has been a bit flighty, but better than the other two. I tend to want a travel agent for trips that are big - like Europe or the Caribbean. When going to somewhere in the States, I have tended to use an online company and done my own comparing. We are hitting up Montreal, Canada in August and I'll be planning and booking that trip myself.

    Sounds like you guys have some great travel agents. Kinda wish we could find one around here.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    1,984

    Default

    I also agree with the use of a TA for our annual trip home... but I almost always need to book the air portion myself, either because I use my TA to book the resort too far in advance to get air, or because I'm booking at least part of the air using FF or bank card credits (miles). I've yet to find a TA who is willing to deal with FF miles or bank card credits... perhaps one of our TA posters can help explain why?
    Chris

    "In an abundance of water, the fool is thirsty..." - Bob Marley - "Rat Race"


  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    708

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bebella View Post
    I think that on the whole, travel agents are a great idea...it's too bad that our TA hardly did any work for us, and is always too busy traveling to answer my emails. I booked our flights myself because I felt like she wasn't going to get us the best deal (and she didn't) and after we ended up changing our resort to Couples from Sandals (which was my idea after doing all of the research myself, and finding out how much more you get for what you spend), she seemed less that thrilled (she is a Sandals top TA and gets a crazy amount of benefits and perks from them). Next time, we'll look for a TA that isn't too busy to work with us and gets us the best deals she can find, regardless of the resorts she "works" for or the airlines she likes best.

    Now I'm stuck with the "Should we get insurance, should we not" question myself, because she won't answer my email and this is this is our first international trip ever, not to mention our first big trip by ourselves.
    I wouldn't do a trip this expensive without insurance. What if one of you turns up sick and you can't make the trip...insurance reimburses you. What if you get in an accident on the way to the airport and you miss your flight...insurance reimburses you. What if bad weather causes flight delays...insurance covers expenses. Many many scenarios you just don't think about not to mention the obvious big ones like if you are going during hurricane season.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    708

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris View Post
    I also agree with the use of a TA for our annual trip home... but I almost always need to book the air portion myself, either because I use my TA to book the resort too far in advance to get air, or because I'm booking at least part of the air using FF or bank card credits (miles). I've yet to find a TA who is willing to deal with FF miles or bank card credits... perhaps one of our TA posters can help explain why?

    We've never used bank card credits but ours will help us book a flight with frequent flyer miles. I guess I really love my travel agent!

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    325

    Default

    I am a gambler when it comes to insurance. After many cruises and AI visits I've yet to need it, knock on wood. Things could happen though, I see it a personal decision. For those that need peace of mind it's probably best to get it.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    8

    Default

    Our travel agent made our trip extra special by letting CSA know it was our honeymoon, we got the royal treatment, a bottle of Champaign and two free massages. Normally you have to go within 30 days of getting married, our honeymoon was 4 months after we got married, but we got the hook up with our agent, plus we researched and tried to find the cheapest rates on our own, he beat our lowest rate by $200 dollars. We difently will use him again, in fact we are planning a trip to Mexico in October, and a trip back to couples next March! Its just more convient, and if there is a problem, you have someone to take care of it!

  23. #23
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    42

    Default

    I booked directly thru CN hope I am not disappointed! ON the countdown!! whoo hoo happy that my flight back home will be direct!

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    20

    Default

    funny, we never use a travel agent but did this time around because we got the best deal that way. they just called to tell us usair cancelled our flight. after a short call w/ the TA, we're no have a layover but we're getting to jamaica 3 hours earlier. when we got off the phone, my husband actually said, "i'm glad we used a TA!"

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    5

    Default

    Quick question -- If I book directly through Couples, can I transfer the reservation to my travel agent afterwards??

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