I was talking with one of my fellow agents here at Christopherson Travel and we were comparing examples of different times we had done something for a client that most likely wouldn’t have happened if they hadn’t had an agent to help them. Many times I’ve gone to great lengths to help clients resolve issues with vendors. However, my fellow agent had a story from this past summer that bears repeating.
This agent has a client who is a touring musician. She takes about 120 flights a year and he handles her travel. On the trip being discussed, here is the itinerary her agent had booked for her:
- Depart from the Washington DC area
- McCook, NE – 2 days
- Fly into Omaha.
- Pick up a car.
- Drive to McCook
- Return to Omaha two days later
- Dallas, TX – 2 days
- Nashville, TN – 1 week
- Return to DC
The trip began with a delayed flight on the first leg that caused a misconnection in Memphis. The airline put the client on a later flight to Omaha and promised a meal voucher for her trouble. The flight to Omaha was delayed and the client arrived after 1:00am, only to find that her checked bags with her merchandise didn’t make the flight and that both the baggage office and the car rental agency were closed. There was a phone at the baggage office which connected to a voicemail box that was full.
At this point the client calls the agent at home. The client explains what has transpired and her agent logs on to the reservation system, finds the client a hotel with a shuttle near the airport and books it. Next he helps her file a lost baggage claim online through the airline’s website. He then books her a new car reservation for pick up early the next morning, emailed her the updated itinerary and went back to bed.
When the client went back to the airport the next morning she stopped by the baggage office, which was open. She had them check on her claim and was told that the bags would be in Omaha by 11:00am and then would be delivered to the address in McCook before 4:00pm. That meant that her merchandise and her costumes for her performance would arrive in time for her performances.
When 4:00pm arrived and her two bags had not arrived, she called the airline’s baggage office in Omaha and got the full voicemail box again. She then called her agent, who took her claim numbers and contacted the Agency Support desk at the airline. He was informed that they were scheduled for the next FedEx pick up and was given the tracking number. He checked FedEx to see where the bags were and the number came up invalid. He mentioned that and the airline representative said that she didn’t have any more information than what she had given him. He then asked to be transferred to the Omaha baggage office so that he could verify that the bags had arrived there. When he got someone at the bag office, he was informed that his client’s bags were there and that they would be picked up by FedEx, the next morning at 10:00am and delivered to McCook by 4:00pm the next day.
The problem was that the client would be departing out of Omaha, the next day at 11:00am, which would mean that her bags would be delivered to where she used to be. He asked the baggage agent to just hold on to the bags and let the passenger come claim them the next morning before the FedEx pick up. The baggage agent said that shouldn’t be a problem. Her agent then called the client and explained to her what had transpired. She was very unhappy since that meant that she wouldn’t have any merchandise to sell, nor would she have any costumes to wear. Her agent commiserated with her and suggested that she speak with the agents at the Omaha airport about some compensation. He also reminded her to write down the names, dates and times of the people she spoke with and not to be mad at them or to yell at them since they weren’t the ones causing the problem, they were the ones that might be able to help fix the problem.
Fast forward to the next day, the client arrives in Omaha and successfully reclaimed her bags and proceeded to check in for her next flight, which was canceled. She called her agent, who got her rebooked on a nonstop flight that left an hour later than her original connecting flight, yet got her into Dallas earlier. During this time the client spoke with the airline ticket counter agent, who listened to her and promised her a voucher good for a free ticket anywhere in the USA and a $100 voucher to help offset the bag fees that she had paid. He said that it would have to come from headquarters, but assured her that she would get it within 7 days.
Apparently the rest of the trip went without a problem. After two weeks had passed, the client had not received anything from the airline. She then called their reservations number and got transferred to the customer service department. She explained what had happened, who she had spoken with, when she had spoken with them and what they had promised. She was then told that there were no remarks in her reservations indicating anything relating to compensation. The customer service agent told her to go to the airline website and submit a claim there. So the client did that immediately and got an automated response indicating that someone would be in touch with her within 48 hours. Two days later, she received an email from the customer service department denying her claim. She called her travel agent, who asked her to give him a chance to see what he could do.
Her agent contacted our representative with the airline and explained what the circumstances were and what had been promised by various employees. After some discussions to establish what the client was actually seeking and what she would be willing to accept, the representative asked if she could contact the client directly to express her regrets about the bad service and to offer some compensation. Her agent to see if that would be okay and then had the representative contact her. An hour later the client called her agent back to say she was very pleased with the results and thanked him profusely. Apparently the compensation was sufficient and the apology sincere enough to allow the client to be forgiving.
Not bad for a $29.00 full service fee. With so many ways that travel can go wrong, who couldn’t use a professional travel agent?
Do you have a story about how your travel agent helped you in ways that would have been much harder if you were going it alone? Please share!