Are Travel Agencies the Unnecessary Middlemen?

05/21/2010

I made a reservation on a specific flight with a travel agent in February.

When I called to confirm my seat two days ago, I was told my booking was dropped a while back, and they were unable to get me back on that flight.

Now, this is not an agency I use infrequently. The agents and I are on first-name basis, every time I need a plane ticket I go to them. They knew how important it was for me to get on this specific flight.

The response I got from them? “It was your responsibility to confirm your reservation with us. We assume our customers know we can only hold their reservations for a couple of weeks. We have entirely too many customers to be giving each one of them a reminder!”

In this day and age, I could easily book my plane tickets on the internet. Some think of travel agencies as the unnecessary middlemen. I use a travel agency because 1) I prefer the flexibility and service, and 2) I want to support small businesses. The world with only big corporations and online companies is boring.

This all goes back to my earlier post on the lack of customer service in America. So many businesses fail to recognize that excellent customer service is the one thing that turns customers into loyal customers. In my case, I am unwilling to deal with this particular travel agency again.

In my desperation, I called my last resort – a travel agency in New York. I knew it would cost me more to work with them, but I also knew they could get me onto the flight I wanted to be on. Within five minutes of getting off the phone, my itinerary was in my Inbox, along with the fare and the confirmation deadline.

I went ahead and booked another six tickets with “my last resort”. I also penned down all the confirmation deadlines in my organizer to save myself another headache.

Is my expectation reasonable or am I spoiled? Are travel agencies the unnecessary middlemen? You tell me!

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