Specialized travel agencies

This item appears on page 59 of the April 2009 issue.

This is in response to the reader’s letter on code-share tickets (Feb. ’09, pg. 30). I would point out that if the reader had booked and purchased his airline tickets from a travel agency specializing in the country of his destination, he would not have encountered the problem of not being booked on the flights he attempted to book on the Internet.

The benefits of working with a specialized travel agency that has a contract with the major airlines servicing that destination are as follows:

• The airfare obtained by the agency is equal to and in many cases less expensive than the fares offered on the Internet. And most agencies, like ours, do not charge transaction fees or service charges to issue the tickets.

• The tickets do not have to be issued immediately. There is always sufficient time to make sure the flights are correctly booked and for you, the passenger, to give your approval before the tickets are issued.

• If you have a question or if a problem should arise, you have a person you can call or e-mail for assistance. You will never spend four hours holding on the telephone (as in the above-referenced case) while waiting for a stranger to assist you.

• If there should be an airline schedule change or change of equipment, the agency will notify you and make sure that the changes do not create problems with your itinerary. This service continues even after you have departed on your trip.

• If a lower airfare should become available, the agency will notify you and reissue your tickets to take advantage of the lower airfare, if ticket conditions permit.

Clients benefit from the agency’s years of research and relationship building and experience. The agency is able to assist with anything from special dietary requirements and seat reservations on your flights to answering questions and helping organize an itinerary.

In our case, our agency has specialized in travel to just New Zealand for over 20 years.

MICHAEL D. McCLELLAND, owner, The Best of New Zealand, West Los Angeles, CA