Elizabeth Ellis has been in the travel industry for over 35 years and is a Travel Manager at Cherrybrook Travel, NSW. She writes in response to the recent opinion piece by travelBulletin publisher Bruce Piper, Brace for impact.
I READ this story with heartache and sorrow.
We knew when the pandemic struck that it would be a long, hard road back. But then Qantas, being first off the mark, announced that once we were through the worst of it, they were going to hit us hard again.
It is hard to believe that an Aussie icon would do this to agents, and then announce that they warned us in advance.
Unfortunately the years rolled on, we battled on – and then of course, when things seem to be a little better, we are reminded we are not worthy to earn money for our work. We now explain to clients that we charge booking fees or they can book their own. But we have to explain WHY we charge a booking fee. We have to explain how hard we work for our clients, and then ask if they want us to look after their booking or if they want to go it alone.
In most cases it is the clients that support us – with the frustration of having to deal with their own refunds or changes and of still waiting on phone queues for hours if they dare take on their own booking, some have decided that it is much better for an agent to deal with all of this anguish.
I get it – the airlines are hurting and want the cash… so they choose to take it from agents? They don’t reduce the fares to customers, they just charge them the same or more if the client wants an agent to deal with their booking. I explain all of this to clients, and ask if they really want to travel with an airline that has no heart and who is a bully and is not a supporter of Australian businesses. Of course it didn’t take long when Qantas announced this for other airlines to jump on the back of the bounding Kangaroo. It is heartless and demoralising.
We hear, “but they do this around the world”. Does this make it kinder, no. Does this make it better, no.
We are Australian and should be proud to back each other in a crisis. But Qantas is not a friend of Australian travel agents.
They are not a friend of their loyal supporters and customers. They are indeed a bad friend. A friend that bullies travel agents is no longer a friend, and since bullies only respond to strength, from here on in we will be stronger, and we will support airlines and travel businesses that support us. Qantas and their allies should be prepared for that. Make no mistake – the Australian travel industry is under attack – both externally and from within.