Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of requests for air only bookings from people.If you use an advisor to book any travel services, you should remember my “play” on the acronym PITA (pain in the a@$). I make a joke out of it. I say using a travel advisor gives you pain avoidance of PITA, and (an even better) pleasure seeking PITA.PITA #1 -I can save you the PITA (Pain In The A@$) of doing it yourself.PITA #2 – I can give you the PITA (Pleasure In The Advisor) of getting things/ access to amenities & offers you cannot get on your own (and being available as your advocate if things go wrong).I love doing my job, designing notable travel experiences that produce lasting memories. I’m all about building travel experiences. And…. I’m all about producing value for my clients.When I’m booking air as part of a whole travel experience (hotels, tours, excursions, etc), I’ve already chatted with the clients upfront, and collaborated with them on how best to meet their needs. I work with my international air department to find air.When clients ask me for air by itself, I can assist, but then it becomes a transaction.As anyone who has worked with me knows, I am not an employee of a company, getting paid an hourly wage. Nor am I a travel agent, getting paid for each transaction. I am a travel advisor. As a professional travel advisor, my services are fee-basedGenerally speaking, there is a consultation fee upfront that begins the planning process. The consultation fee is for the design and supervision of your travel experience, and the investment gives you access to me as we go through every step in your experience. The cost of the trip itself is determined by the hotel, the guides, the car, the air, and all the other ingredients – and we decide those things together.If we’re looking only at the cost of air for a client (and looking at that piecemeal from the rest of a trip), I generally make clients aware of the following things:1.) Flights by themselves don’t generally pay any commission.2.) There is a lot of responsibility on me as a travel advisor other than transacting a sale to book someone’s air. And, that responsibility doesn’t end with the booking of the ticket.3.) When I book air for you:
- I find out what’s most important to you – cost, style travel, # connections, arrival time, etc. – and do some research about best routing. That research takes time, and there’s never a perfect fit – you generally have to trade off on one parameter or another (e.g., direct flights are more expensive, a 12 hour layover in Charlotte may save a lot of money, etc.).
- I work with my international air department to do a search of parameters based on the input you’ve provided. (if you’re flexible on dates, airports, times, etc. that will change the output).
- I give you advice re: airports, routings, times of flights, and connection intervals.
- I ensure I have your proper passport names (yes, it matters whether or not your middle name appears on your passport!) and dates of birth, and get you to check that your passport is valid for up to 6 months after your return date.
- I advise you about Passport Canada rules if you are travelling with minor children (especially if one parent is not travelling).
- I advise you about airline luggage fees/ change fees/ cancellation fees.
- I advise you about seat selection and other airline fees.
- I advise you about vacation insurance.
- I conform to accounting and invoicing rules, and also respect TICO legislation.
- And – I make myself available to you to track your flights when you’re travelling, and to be available to help if and when issues arise such as delays and/or issues (which, these days, there are many).There is an awful lot of time and effort and responsibility on me (including accepting responsibility for any errors, which can be thousands of dollars on me personally.) If I take on the responsibility to book your air, my work only begins with the request to help you find flights. If I’m taking time to book an air only ticket, I’m also taking time away from monitoring my other clients’ files. So, I do not take any booking casually.Unfortunately, air is the one area of travel services where there are the most issues and complications that can arise for travelers. And air is the one area where I have the least amount of control over things that can go wrong.If you book with me, I cannot prevent the occurrence of mechanical issues with the aircraft, or your flight being late leaving Newark then causing you to miss your flight to Glasgow, and I certainly am not responsible for a huge ash cloud in Iceland. (I’m good, but I’m not God! :-)….) But… I can be a resource for you. I can be the person you call when things go wrong, and there’s a two hour line up at the reservations desk, and the airline’s help line is jammed. When things go wrong, it can be wonderful to have someone answer the phone. Especially someone trying to help you when you most need assistance. I can be that person for you.I can do all of that for you if I book your air. If you book your own air, I cannot. If you book your own air, I am not the travel agent of record, and I cannot access your existing file.It would be my pleasure to help you with your air, but I cannot do it for free. I’m not an employee. I earn my living through service fees and commissions. I also involve the services and resources of my international air department, and their time is not free. As a professional travel advisor, I have to charge a service fee on air.I charge minimal fees, given the workload accepted when I book air. Here are the fees involved for booking air.
domestic air: $50/person + gst
international air: $100/person + gst
If I’m working with someone on an entire trip with tours, cars, hotels, etc, I can sometimes reduce (or sometimes waive) air booking fee. For example, I may halve the fee if we’re booking other components of travel; or, if I’m working with a family, I may charge the fee only for the adults traveling.
But, if you’re asking me to book air only, those fees are set.
So, it’d be my pleasure to assist you in booking air, and you can have access to me to help you before, during, and after your flight – remember, PITA x 2. I can save you the Pain In The A@$ of doing it yourself. But I can also give you the Pleasure In The Advisor – I can be your resource and advocate helping you. But, there will be a fee!Let me know if I can help you!Sheila Gallant-Halloransheila.firstname.lastname@example.org