There used to be a time when travel agents were partners with airlines. There used to be a time, when we could work together for our mutual benefit. There used to be a time when I was not spitting mad at Delta.
It all started with an innocent mistake. A client was getting married and was busy planning all aspects of the big event. They turned to me for their honeymoon. I booked them into a nice cruise to the Mexican Rivera with flights that they had requested. After I sent out the packet from my agency with all the information, confirmations, and extras, I got that dreaded call from the client.
“Those dates are wrong”
When the panic attack subsided I went back and checked all the emails we had exchanged and found that I indeed had missed something. A little note at the bottom of one email thread did specify a final choice for the date and I simply missed it.
Since the customer is always right (and they really were in this casa),and it was in writing, I had to get this corrected and fast. Royal Caribbean was great they were able to find me a cabin on the correct sailing and re-arrange the dining to meet my clients’ desires. There was a nominal fee and I was happy to pay for it.
And then I had to deal with Delta.
The change in airfare was over $300 per ticket plus the $150 change fee. I explained the situation to no avail. I asked for a supervisor. The supervisor, of course, did nothing to help and I explained that I was a travel agent who booked over $40,000 worth of Delta flights last year. “Oh you’re a travel agent. That will be an extra $50 per ticket because we did not run it.” It took all the will in my body to not lay down a thick carpet of obscenities..
In utter disbelief, I reaffirmed, “You’re adding $50 more per ticket because I’m a travel agent?”
“Yes the total change price for those tickets is now $1000.”
“But the original price of the tickets was less than $500 for both,” I stammered.
“Those are our policies, sorry”
I called Southwest Airlines and booked two new tickets for less then half of just the change fee Delta wanted.
It’s bad enough that the Airlines took away all commissions and induce consumers to bypass travel agents and book directly with them, but now they add additional fees because we did their work. And to boot, they were willing to give up $40,000 in revenue to stick to their guns.
After that fiasco, you can bet that I have not booked any more Delta/Northwest flights. Being in Salt Lake City (a Delta hub) makes it difficult, but I still have found my way to more consumer and agent friendly airlines–Southwest first and foremost. And so far, my clients are loving the free bags, better service and lower pricing.
And me? Well, I get the satisfaction of diverting over $22,000 of market share (so far in 2010) away from Delta/Northwest.
Graig Wilkins (odd spelling and all) is a home based travel agent specializing in Disney destinations worldwide. He is the Owner /Manger of Mouse World Vacations and can be reached at Graig@MouseWorldVacations.com or www.MouseWorldVactions.com