The troubled story of UK airlines continues with a further cabin crew strike planned for the 1st July.
Reading my Twitter timeline, it is quite surprising how many people are finding communication with their airline difficult. It is also sometimes a little surprising to read questions, addressed to an airline, from people who purport to be travel "experts" including a fair number of travel bloggers and people in travel tech, which questions are very basic in nature and serve to demonstrate how little many of such ilk know about the reality of travel.
Step forward your good old fashioned GDS equipped travel agent. You know, the person using "outdated" tech whom one would not dream of talking to and if seen outside, for whom one would probably cross to the other side of the road.
Believe it or not, British Airways and many other of the legacy airlines actual give agents a very practical set of rules on how to handle any reservations which may get caught up in strikes and other situations.
The guidelines we agents are given are clear and concise and because we have reliable GDS technology, we can usually sort out our clients problems very quickly indeed. In order for us to be able to do this and as a reward, we are generally scorned upon by airlines and made to pay all sorts of extra charges unless we use kit which airlines and others hope will work, rather than kit we agents know will work.
Ah! But you did not book with a travel agent, did you? That's a shame. You see, we can only fix bookings that we make. We cannot recover bookings that we did not make and so, cannot advise on what action to take, because in order to do that, we need to know what it is you have booked. By that, I do not mean just knowing that it was a return trip to Paris. Agents need to see the actual ticket detail; the details which are sparsely available on many online booking systems (if at all) but critical to have, if anything needs to be changed or amended.
Another little benefit: As most agents have not yet decided to follow the route of automating everything in sight, making sure that you, as a customer, are unlikely to get anywhere near that rare beast called: "a member of staff that can actually do something" - most old fashioned agents are at the end of a telephone which gets answered.
As long as everything works, technology works. But everything does not work. Agents are becoming rare beasts, find yours and nurture him or her.