Two weeks after a huge snowstorm closed New York airports earlier this year, hundreds of travelers had no idea where their luggage was. One new bride and groom were waiting for the keepsakes from their destination wedding; one college student arrived for his semester abroad with not one piece of clothing or personal items.
But, in another example that shows why everyone should use a travel agent, Jack Bloch’s customers arrived home intact and relatively swiftly. And so did their things.
Jack Bloch, president and CEO of JB's World Travel Consultants in New York, got a call from a female client flying home from Vienna on Jan. 4, who had been scheduled to land at John F. Kennedy International Airport. With bad weather approaching, Bloch had advised her to just stay in Vienna, but she was traveling with a seven-year-old child who was ill, and she just wanted to get home.
The storm closed in; the flight was diverted to Chicago; the woman and her child sat on the tarmac for two hours. Then the airline gave her a little card with a number to call to get her luggage. But, of course, no one answered.
After 30 minutes, the client called Bloch for help. “I said 'forget about the luggage. I am checking you into a suite at the Chicago Airport Hilton.' And, I found her a nonstop business class seat on United, which had been smart enough to bring in some jumbo jets,” Bloch said. “Then we called different channels, got American and United involved, and arranged to have the luggage delivered to their home. The luggage took three or four days, but my client and her daughter were safely at home the next day.”
In the luxury market, Bloch said, it’s all about service. "It’s a growing market and it’s a niche market, and it’s all based on referrals.” He added that usually “time is the key word — how do you value time?” But sometimes, having someone to call in an emergency is even more important.
Just another reason to use a travel agent.