ASATA column: Pay for Good Advice

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On a recent flight to Cape Town, I pondered a letter-to-the-editor that featured in the airline’s in-flight magazine, and the absolute venom that it was written with. The person in question had not been advised by the airline that she required a health certificate for the country she was travelling to, on the passport she was travelling on.

After reading her complaint, I was relieved to see that the only not guilty party was the travel agent – that’s because she hadn’t used one! Of course, none of this would have happened, had she used the professional services of an ASATA Member to book her ticket.

There is a price to pay for the simplicity of booking directly with the airline, and not because the airline fails to furnish you with those minor details. Of course she should have referred to the “important information section”, where it says that customers are responsible for ensuring their health documents are in place.

Unfortunately, this poor, unsuspecting passenger had to incur an additional night’s accommodation, as well as the cost of changing the ticket to another date, all because she wanted a cheap ticket and probably didn’t want to pay the travel agent’s fee. 

Similarly, I heard a story from one of our members who was facilitating a booking on behalf of a group, which was made up of people travelling from all parts of the world, but mostly Africa. They had to arrive for day one of this strategic conference being held in some obscure part of Spanish-speaking South America, which meant that just about everyone had to take a connecting flight. The ASATA member recommended the most efficient route, but it came at a price which the client declined and opted for the longer, more complex – albeit cheaper – alternative. In spite of the fact that the group was given exemption status from the Spanish authorities, with regards their transit visas, no-one notified the airlines and most of the African delegates were denied boarding. This resulted in costs trebling and most of the delegates missing day one of a three-day conference.  

As the Americans say, “do the math”. You can’t put a price on good advice.

Robyn Christie

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