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Why Booking Your Flights with a Travel Agent is More Important Than Ever

Air travel changes hero

Coronavirus has changed the landscape of travel, there’s no doubt about that. And while, as a tailor-made holiday company, it’s exciting to see airlines and other suppliers adapting and making changes for the better, it does mean booking trips is now even more impenetrable for the typical traveller. Knowing which airlines and what fares are flexible, whether certain routes are open, and how the flying experience has changed in light of COVID-19, can be a bit daunting. But that’s where are our experts come in.

Our lovely Travel Consultants are talking to our travel partners on a daily basis, navigating the changes and constantly pushing airlines especially to be more flexible. Simply put, they’re equipped with the latest, trusted travel advice, to guide you through the confusion. Ultimately this allows our customers to book with confidence – something which is crucial as advice and rules change on a daily basis.

We caught up with Justin Penny, our Head of Aviation, to chat about some of the changes.

So, what has actually changed in the airline industry?

12 months ago, if anyone had said to me that a major airline would change their policy to allow all tickets to be refundable, regardless of the fare rules when the ticket was issued, I would have simply laughed at them. Fast forward to 2021, we have several airlines – including major ones like Emirates, Qatar Airways and Air France/KLM – who, subject to a few travel date restrictions, will allow full cash refunds. This applies even if the ticket rules are non-refundable at time of reservation.

Many more airlines have introduced the flexibility of cancelling an itinerary with zero change fees and retaining the funds as credit for future travel. Some airlines aren’t even charging any additional fare collection if you’re exchanging your ticket and the new date or route is more expensive. These are fundamental changes to the way air travel works, and great for reintroducing confidence in travel.

How is Flight Centre working with airlines?

We’re currently working with all of our major airline partners, lobbying them to make booking travel more flexible. This is vitally important. It will give our customers the reassurance to travel in uncertain times, especially if the airline is offering things like free date changes, free name changes, no additional fare collection when making changes and, most importantly, the flexibility to make said changes last minute.  

Why is this so important to Flight Centre?

We’ve always been proud of our knowledgeable people and our level of travel expertise, but now airline policies are more complicated and confusing than ever. This means our discerning customers need our help more than they have before. In order to let them plan more efficiently, and with ultimate confidence, all our Travel Consultants have unrivalled access to the latest airline information. They’ll use this expertise to inform and guide our customers who want to travel. This is what makes Flight Centre stand out from the myriad other agencies – our people make the difference, and are committed to opening up the world for our customers. Travel websites and online booking engines will take months, if not years, to put this information into the hands of their users. Our Consultants can do it immediately; we are the airfare experts.

So what’s next for air travel?

The changes that have happened to date won’t be the last. Airlines policies will continue to change. They may start flying to places that they’ve never flown to before. You may seem them using different aircrafts to what they may have normally used on certain routes. Booking travel will undoubtedly get even more complicated, but this is where we come in. Our Consultants are ready to help our customers get back in the air so they can explore the world safely.

Written by Alexandra Cronin (Gregg)

Once a roving local news reporter and now a travel-obsessed writer/sub, I'm head-over-heels for nature, wildlife and the ocean. When I'm not getting up close to animals and sea creatures, I'm seeking out the sets of my favourite TV shows around the world. 

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