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. Read more “How to tell if you have a qualified travel agent”

Are “custom” airfares good – or evil?

Studio Go/Shutterstock
Studio Go/Shutterstock
One way or another, the way you buy an airline ticket is about to change.

Behind the scenes, the propellerheads who create your fares are working on a smarter way to sell tickets. The airline industry is developing technology standards that could serve up a special fare intended only for you, based on how often you fly, where you live, your gender, age or marital status. But online travel agencies and consumer advocates are skeptical of customization.

Well, this is one time the airline industry almost got it right.
Read more “Are “custom” airfares good – or evil?”

Time to get real about real-time airfares

Little Miss/Shutterstock
Little Miss/Shutterstock
Sue Marcus was looking for a flight from Washington to Tulsa.

Instead, she found trouble.

Every time the American Airlines Web site asked her to select a return flight, it came back with an error message saying that the fare she’d selected was “no longer available.” She phoned the airline to finish the reservation. “A customer service agent told me that she couldn’t use the same Web system that the public sees, though she found a fare that was $50 higher than the flight I’d originally chosen,” says Marcus, a retired government worker from Fairfax, Va.
Read more “Time to get real about real-time airfares”

Would you buy a “custom” airline ticket?

Tratong/Shutterstock
Tratong/Shutterstock
Should your airline be allowed to offer you a customized ticket?

That’s the intriguing and somewhat thorny question being raised by the worldwide airline industry through a little-known proposal called Resolution 787 — not to be confused with Boeing’s troubled 787 aircraft.

And it hopes that the answer is “yes.”

The airline industry, represented by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), wants to establish a new standard for selling airline seats, called the New Distribution Capability (NDC).
Read more “Would you buy a “custom” airline ticket?”

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