How to tell if you have a qualified travel agent

Yarisa Smith knows she has a good travel agent.

“He’s made cruises and European trips special,” says Smith, a manufacturer’s representative from Dallas. “His itineraries and attention to detail have made every trip flawless. He’s even managed to successfully intervene when acts of God have waylaid my plans.”

Yet you might not know by looking at Clark Mitchell, who works for Dallas-based Strong Travel, whether he’s the real deal. Yes, his agency is cited as a source for its travel expertise by mainstream news outlets. It also prominently lists its membership in Virtuoso, an exclusive travel agency consortium.

But until now, there’s been no instantly recognized certification that says an agent is legit. That may be about to change.

My travel agent never sent my $2,000 refund

When Randy Scott plans a vacation to Greece, he turns to a travel agent who specializes in guided tours for help. Smart move, right? Unfortunately, not in this case. When Scott winds up canceling, this formerly friendly specialist goes MIA and takes his deposit with her.

What’s the difference between a cancellation penalty and an administrative fee?

Mistakes happen — it’s a fact of life and of business. But when a mistake by two companies results in a customer losing $500, who should reimburse the client? That’s what Henry Vogt wants to know. His case raises some important questions about disclosure and ethics that could affect your next travel purchase.

Will proposed airline alliances hurt travelers?

In the final hours of the Bush administration, airlines are quietly lobbying for approval of a new kind of alliance that could potentially change the way airline tickets are bought and sold. But are these corporate hook-ups good for passengers? Absolutely not, says a brief filed by two groups representing travel agencies.

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