When I first started traveling on my own, I would book my airline tickets by phone. Back then you would call the airline on the phone and try to get a flight to your destination.
The airline would give you other suggestions on the different flights that might save you a little money or get you to the destination on a time schedule that was to your liking.
This was a fun time because you could stop at the airport and pick up a book with all the flight schedules. If you looked through the books, you could pretend you were traveling all over the country. You didn’t have the prices for the flights so you could pretend that it wasn’t costing you anything. You could go to the west coast and back with stops in the middle of the country for a day or two.
This was all fun, but I didn’t really travel that much by airline. About the mid eighties, I started traveling more on the airlines and started using a travel agency. That was the best. You could tell them where you wanted to go and in a few hours they had you booked on the best flight. That worked great for about 15 years. All you had to do was call the agency and everything was done. You got all the discounts and saved money. They even had brochures of all sorts of places to travel.
All good things must come to an end. The Internet and the airlines made it hard for the travel agencies. You had to start looking up your own trips. Most of my friends thoroughly embraced the web searching. They claimed to be saving all sorts of money and getting great flights. This happiness came with a price. If you thought talking with the airline on the phone was something, try looking up all the flights on the Internet. The travel agency would usually call me back in a couple of hours with an itinerary for my trip. Now I was spending lots of hours on a computer trying to find an airline flight. This was okay but the time was taking the fun out of looking for trips. Then you still had to fight the schedule and look for the best price. You really had to work at this and still you were not sure if you got a good schedule.
Just recently I was looking for an airline flight. A friend called and said he had found some flights that might be just what I wanted. Four of us were going on the trip and the flights didn’t turn out to be what we wanted. Three of us kept searching but couldn’t quite get the right combination of flights and rooms and rental cars.
One of my friends called with a better suggestion. What if we used a travel agency? That sounded like a great idea to me. I told him my experience with travel agencies and he decided to give a travel agency a try.
Well, you know what happened. The travel agency booked the airline flights and we got almost direct flights on the day we wanted and it saved us some money. Now we’ve gone full circle. No more looking at the Internet for hours on end. Now, we just pick out our trips and let the travel agency arrange the flights, rooms and everything else.
Strange how we start doing things the old way and it turns out better. It goes to show you that all the technology that we use doesn’t necessarily save us time or money.
We just get to spend time looking up stuff and think we are doing something. I just wish we could get a confirmation by telegram to make the traveling experience complete.
Bobby Jonte is the president of the Bank of Greeleyville.