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TravelOnly agents in Ontario haven’t raced to embrace the new carriers that have been appearing in this country’s skies in the past couple of years, unconvinced those airlines will be the best bet for their clients, even when those clients ask for them.
Pat Probert of the Toronto-area Bob Family Travel Team says he prefers to put his clients on airlines that have long been around, recalling once having clients stuck in Las Vegas after travelling on a new airline and then not having any way of getting them back with that same carrier for five days.
After consultations, the clients decided to fly to Los Cabos for the five days.
“Due to a computer convention in Las Vegas and the price of the hotel it was not a lot more money for them to extend their vacation,” Probert reports. “The clients came back very happy and caught the flight home to Toronto.
“We really must watch what new or start-up airlines we are using because some of them may not have another plane available if one should break down,” Probert adds. “With so many airlines cutting routes and reducing flights it is getting harder and harder to book flights. We certainly need more competition but for now we will let those who book on the internet to book flights with these companies and take their chance, and we will stick with the proven airlines that have been around, even though we have had more issues lately with some of these recently than ever in history as we all know. We cannot wait until the airline industry gets back on solid footing.
Sarnia, Ont-based Holly McBean says her clients frequently mention low-cost airlines.
“However, I am not recommending (them) due to the infrequent flight schedules and most clients need to be at destination on the dates booked,” she says. “Therefore I recommend the carriers that assist us when issues arise. As the last years have shown us who supports agents, I prefer to work with them and give our business to them as commission has been hard enough to make with air carriers.”
Jennifer McPherson of Hamilton-area TurnKey Travel has noticed a slight increase in inquiries for the new airlines, with their low pricing getting attention. However, she cautions her clients that these are “’buyer beware’ flights and you often get what you pay for.”
McPherson prefers to book with suppliers that she “knows, trusts and have direct support if something happens,” citing various concerns, among them new low-cost carriers “may only fly every few days from the smaller airports, making it very painful if the flight is cancelled or significantly delayed.
“You also have to be careful of all of the extra costs as they can certainly add up quickly with these discount airlines and it is a very ‘no-frills’ experience.”
McPherson adds that her clients “typically choose reliability, support and higher quality over saving a few dollars” after consulting her.
Marcia White of London-area Marcia Loves Travel at TravelOnly has used smaller airlines when clients are keen on booking them, but, tries to stick to the larger established airlines, and stay away from brand-new ones.
She says if she does book the newer operations she will charge a booking fee, make sure her clients know that cancellations are possible and getting a new flight can be a challenge.
Many of White’s clients are young and more budget conscious and are aware of all the options available. But her agency only books smaller new airlines when a client specifically requests one of those carriers because they found a flight online. In most cases she suggests they book one of those flights themselves if they insist on it.
“The fact that they are popping up does make my job more difficult, as those airlines are not generally easy to work with, especially for agents,” she says.
The Marcia Loves Travel the team tries to stick with the larger airlines whenever possible, and always opts for them for their groups “or it would just be completely unmanageable. Consolidators are definitely a necessity when putting difficult files together,” White states.
However, White adds that the smaller new arrivals in the airline industry “may assist with keeping some of the flight pricing from extreme price increases, especially when it comes to domestic flights. However, time will tell on that, as who knows how long they will all be around,” she adds.
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