Booking Air Travel with a Travel Agent
Credit: gracey @ morgueFile

Over the years, many people have made the switch to booking air travel over the internet.  Despite the lower prices airlines tend to offer online, there are times when booking flight arrangements through a travel professional can save you money and time.  Here is a quick guide to determining when it is a good idea to call your travel agent.

Consider using a travel agent when...

You really need to be there

If a delay in your travel means you'll miss your sister's wedding in Tampa, then it is best to make sure you will be there on time.  Not only will your travel agent have a better understanding of a particular airline's or airport's delay times, they will know what to do when there is an emergency.  Whether it is re-routing the flight or booking you through to a driveable destination, your travel agent will be able to help.[1609]  When time is of the essence, you need someone on your side to make a plan.  It usually isn't the under-informed airline staff at the departure gate.

Booking international flights

No matter how much research you have done on your destination, the intricacies of foreign customs take a long time to learn.  Any changes to your travel itinerary could take you through a maze of calls and trips to airline offices.  Unless you have a good contact, you will not know which travel agencies are reputable in your destination country to make these changes for you.  However, knowing you can make one phone call to the agent who booked your travel arrangements initially will help you to relax, even in an emergency.Arrivals Hall: When to use a travel agentCredit: gracey @ morgueFile

Traveling off the beaten path

Your agent will be able to give you valuable travel advice when traveling to more remote destinations, like Mozambique or Chile.  Besides access to an insider's contact network, your agent can help to overcome difficult payment systems and bothersome visa applications.  [1605]  Knowing what to expect at customs and immigration upon landing in a country whose cultural norms vary from your own can ease your comfort, especially after a long flight.

You need travel insurance

Whether you need insurance against trip cancellation or for emergency care while abroad, your travel agent will understand your needs and the fine print associated with your chosen policy.  In the rare cases you need to claim against your insurance, your travel agent can help in facilitating the relevant payouts and any necessary changes to your travel plans.

Traveling with young children and your route involves a layover

Air travel with children is stressful, even if it is a fairly routine trip.  When a journey with children involves more than point A to point B, it is worth considering the services of a travel agent.  No one plans to miss a connecting flight but hustling from gate 3 to gate 400 is tricky when you are carrying cranky children and all their accoutrements.  This may mean an overnight stay or re-booking on another airline.  Rearranging travel plans at the last moment is difficult to do when attempting to soothe your over-tired  baby.  It is much easier to call your agent than stand in line at a ticketing desk when your child needs you.

Booking airline travel for someone else

If your daughter is in Colorado and you want her with you in Maine for Christmas, but you need to book her ticket, then a call to your agent is in order.  Your travel agent be the one to sort out when and what is convenient for both parties.  In addition, a travel agent issued ticket never needs a credit card at check-in for verification.  It may sound like a trivial detail, until you need to sort out a second fare as quick as you can.

Traveling on a tight budget

If you need to travel, either internationally or domestically, but your budget is very tight, then booking through a travel agent will actually save you the cash.  A travel agent will work with your budget and you will know what you are spending before you even start packing.  They have insider knowledge on what is value for money.  Typically, your local agent will also exercise more flexibility in payment options.  Booking travel online equals credit card spend, but a travel agency will usually accept other forms of payment, meaning you have time to withdraw from your savings account, and not paying interest on your credit card.  [1607][1608]

An itinerary change is probable

If you know that you may want to extend your time away, then call your travel agent to book your ticket.  She will be able to steer you towards the best fare classes and will know which airlines facilitate flight changes.  And of course, she will make those changes for you when you decide on your date change.   

Book online when...

Making a routine visit

If you travel between Cleveland and Chicago regularly, there really isn't a benefit in asking a travel agent to help you with this type of ticket.  Chances are you have booked this ticket on your own several times before.  Unless there is a sudden upswing in the ticket prices which has you scratching your head, just keep doing it on your own.

You have to leave right away

If your mother suddenly becomes ill in Austin and the only thing you know is that you need to get there quickly, then book your ticket online.  If you have no idea of a return date, no idea if you need a hired car or if your sister has already called the spare room, it will be easier to sort it out by your

Arrivals Corridor: When to use a travel agentCredit: gracey @ morgueFile

self.  Just book that ticket online unless you already have a travel agent who knows all of your travel preferences. 

Someone is meeting you on the other side

You may have never visited St Louis before, but if your cousin is meeting you at the airport, then rest easy.  Unless need a professional's help with arrangements for accommodation and transportation, you really can make this booking on your own.


However you make your flight arrangements, it is always wise to do your homework before booking your ticket.  Whether it is researching your airline or taking your time to find the right agent for your needs, dealing with honest people and companies is key to enjoying your next flight.