Being a Travel Agent

DAY 1: S-T-R-E-S-S

June 24, 2011

A stupid friend of mine told me that he misses all the posts I’m doing about my boring life here in Dubai as I’ve been doing restaurant reviews for most of the time now (no wonder my ass is getting fatter and fatter). To prove a point, he made a bet with me (for AED100) that I couldn’t keep up a month of just doing a day-to-day update of my life because I’m too lazy like that. Well partly, he’s right and I was planning not to give him the satisfaction of knowing that he’s right and me falling into the bet that he just made BUT I’m a poor soul who’s off to a great adventure on August (fingers crossed) and would need all the penny I could get before the big event. So yes, I’ll take the bet and would be AED100 richer by the end of the month. How hard could that be anyway?

So for day 1, I will write about something I rarely write about on here because I know better: work. I know that a blogger (or whatever it is that you want to call me) isn’t supposed to write about her job because it might end up really really bad for her BUT I’ve come to a point where I’m in a brink of losing my wits because my job is upto my eyeballs lately and if I don’t talk or write about it, I’d burst out into pieces like a suicide bomber. I’m a travel agent, as many of you might already know and my job is to plan everybody’s holidays except for mine. A good friend sent me this message the other day on facebook:

You might think that being a travel agent is the easiest job in the world. We sit in our little corner, type a little on our keyboards and BAM! an electronic ticket gets printed. For all you condescending souls out there, it’s not as easy as that. Let me tell you how it’s done:

1. Study BS Tourism for 4 years to be knowledgeable about world geography, airline rules, ticketing rules, memorize 1 million city and airport codes all over the world and be aware of the laws governing the air travel industry.

2. Have an in-depth knowledge of at least one global distribution system. Memorize the commands on how to book a flight, how to issue a ticket, how to check the fare rules and how to freaking reissue a ticket (seriously, changing a ticket is a travel agent’s worst nightmare).

3. Once we’re finally on the job and a passenger walks up to us, ask them where and when they want to go.

4. Depending on the itinerary we should: check the availability, check the connecting time if it’s allowed by the airline, check the fare restrictions of the ticket, check the baggage allowance, check if the airlines involved can be issued in one ticket to lower down the fare if not, check for alternative airlines which will give a lower fare, a good connection which also allows about 100kg baggage allowance (passengers in this part of the world travel with their whole house along with them for whatever reasons).

5. Before issuing the ticket, recap the whole itinerary to the passenger and let them know that the flight is at 1am and not at 1pm because the ticket shows military timings and the passenger is not very familiar to that. Stress this point to them about 3 times so that they will not go back to you the next day and tell them that they’ve missed the flight because you didn’t explain the flight timings to them.

6. Inform the passenger as well that their ticket is nonrefundable and nonchangeable once issued and all the other restrictions that a ticket might have.

7. Issue the ticket. Make sure that the ticket number, frequent flyer number and the correct baggage allowance are reflecting on the itinerary after ticket issuance.

8. Recap EVERYTHING again to the passenger before bidding farewell.

9. Go to work the next day and see the same passenger fuming mad because he missed his flight as you did not tell them that the flight is at 1am not 1pm. He’s also demanding for you to change a NON-CHANGEABLE ticket to a flight the next day which is already fully booked. Once you’ve told them that you can’t do anything on it anymore, he will threaten you that he will call the police to put you in jail or he will demand to speak to the supervisor or the manager or the vice president or the president or the owner or the sheikh or God to complain about the terrible service he received from a lowly travel agent that you are.

10. Die!

Yes, I’m exaggerating but the above scenario isn’t really impossible to happen in this part of the world. So yes, after all the efforts that we’ve exerted to make one client a happy camper, you’re still at fault if that client comes back to you and points all fingers at you and accuse you of doing a terrible job for them even though it’s their own stupidity which ruled over their common sense once again. That’s how it is here, because the customer is always right and you are supposed to bend over, kiss their ass and wipe it with a handkerchief made of gold right after because they are paying us to do so. Money talks a lot here. A LOT! Consider yourself really lucky if you have someone to back you up but worst comes to worst, you’re just on your own.

So my stress level these days is as high as the Burj Khalifa. I find myself curling in fetus position on my bed under the covers hiding from the world whenever I go home after work…. Well ok, I’m not crazy like that but you know what I mean. Stress from the work itself, stress from the clients and stress from the management. No wonder people have been jumping out of the buildings to end their lives here in Dubai for the past few months now. If only I’m not afraid of heights, I might have done the same.

I used to have a great relationship with my job. I used to wake up very early in the morning and go to work with a positive aura inside of me and come home looking forward to the next day. But now, I don’t know. The idea of seeing my chair at work makes me want to throw up. Maybe this is just a phase? A mid-life crisis? Maybe not.

I need a break. Can you tell?

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  • Reply Monica June 24, 2011 at 12:29

    Good One Noems….. Loved it 🙂

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