During the harsh impact of Hurricane Sandy, travel agents worked diligently to assist clients who were impacted by numerous travel delays. “We’re proud of what our members do for their clients in good times and bad,” said Nina Meyer, president and chair of the board of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA). “The storm caused thousands of domestic and international flight cancellations and delays, so travel agents made extensive efforts to ensure the wellbeing of their travelers.”
ASTA members shared a few of their experiences in helping stranded clients, showing the importance of using a trusted travel agent.
Montrose Travel assisted a customer vacationing in Italy who was scheduled to return to Dulles International when Hurricane Sandy struck. The airlines rebooked her flight for Nov. 5, a five day delay, and she soon began to panic.
“I felt bad for her as I knew she desperately needed to get home to her family,” said Daren Autry, supervisor for Montrose Travel.
Montrose Travel called the airlines every hour to check for available seats and waitlisted the client on numerous flights.
“The client emailed me at 1:45 a.m., when I was on hold with the airlines, thanking me profusely because she was able to get to the gate quickly enough and take the only seat from a cancellation,” Autry said.
Leisure agents from Travel Leaders agencies worked from home the Sunday before the storm hit to rescue clients stranded in Rome. The agents rebooked the clients’ flights and secured them a hotel in Rome. Their travel insurance covered the hotel stay, meals and incidentals.
“We also requested seat assignments and got the “nonrefundable” premium economy seat fees from the original canceled flights refunded,” said Kim Gray from Travel Leaders. “Our clients were thrilled.”
Caribbean Adventures had a destination wedding scheduled in Jamaica with guests arriving Nov. 4. The clients were staying at the Sandals Grande Riviera, and the agency worked with Sandals to address the needs of the guests during travel delays.
“Immediate action was taken to re-accommodate guests while dealing with the specific needs of the wedding party,” said Dan Smith from Caribbean Adventures.
ASTA commends travel agents and tour operators who played a role in helping travelers impacted by the hurricane. ASTA stresses the importance of working with a travel agent who can create security as they guide clients in making and carrying out travel plans. Without a travel agent, travelers are on their own. For more information about travel agents visit ASTA’s consumer site TravelSense.org.