The following are stories told by travel agents about actual experiences. (and you wonder why US citizens generally score less than the rest of the world on geography tests.)
A client called inquiring about a package to Hawaii. After going over all the cost info, she asked, “Would it be cheaper to fly to California and then take the train to Hawaii?”
I got a call from a woman who wanted to go to Capetown. I started to explain the length of the flight and the passport information when she interrupted me: “I’m not trying to make you look stupid, but Capetown is in Massachusetts.” Without trying to make her look stupid, I calmly explained, “Cape Cod is in Massachusetts, Capetown is in Africa.” Her response: Click.
A secretary called in looking for a hotel in Los Angeles. She gave me various names off a list, none of which I could find. I finally had her fax the list. To my surprise it was a list of hotels in New Orleans, Louisiana, which has the postal code LA. She thought the LA stood for Los Angeles and that New Orleans was a suburb of L.A. Worst of all, when I called her back, she wasn’t even embarrassed.
A man called, furious about a Florida package we did. I asked what was wrong with the vacation in Orlando. He said he was expecting an ocean-view room. I explained that’s not possible, since Orlando is in the middle of the state. He replied, “Don’t lie to me. I looked on the map and Florida is a very thin state.”
I got a call from a man who asked, “Is it possible to see England from Canada?” I said, “No.” He said “But they look so close on the map.”
Another man called and asked if he could rent a car in Dallas. When I pulled up the reservation, I noticed he had a one hour lay-over in Dallas. When I asked him why he wanted to rent a car, he said, “I heard Dallas was a big airport and I need a car to drive between the gates to save time.”
A nice lady just called. She needed to know how it was possible that her flight from Detroit left at 8:20 AM and got into Chicago at 8:33 AM. I tried to explain that Michigan was an hour ahead of Illinois, but she couldn’t understand the concept of time zones. Finally I told her the plane went very fast and she bought that!
A woman called and asked, “Do airlines put your physical description on your bag so they know whose luggage belongs to whom?” I said, “No, why do you ask?” She replied, “Well, when I checked in with the airline, they put a tag on my luggage that said FAT and I’m overweight. Is there any connection?” After putting her on hold for a minute, while I “looked into it” (I was actually laughing), I came back and explained that the city code for Fresno is FAT and that the airline was just putting a destination tag on her luggage.
I just got off the phone with a man who asked, “How do I know which plane to get on?” I asked him what exactly he meant, to which he replied, “I was told my flight number is 823, but none of these planes have numbers on them.”
A woman called and said, “I need to fly to Pepsi-Cola on one of those computer planes.” I asked if she meant to fly to Pensacola on a commuter plane. She said, “Yeah, whatever.”
A businessman called and had a question about the documents he needed in order to fly to China. After a lengthy discussion about passports, I reminded him he needed a visa. “Oh no I don’t, I’ve been to China many times and never had to have one of those.” I double checked the requirements and, sure enough, his stay required a visa. When I told him this, he said, “Look, I’ve been to China 4 times and every time they have accepted my American Express.”
A woman called to make reservations, “I want to go from Chicago to Hippopotamus, New York” The agent was at a loss for words. Finally, the agent said, “Are you sure that’s the name of the town?” “Yes, what flights do you have?” replied the customer. After some searching, the agent came back with, “I’m sorry, ma’am, I’ve looked up every airport code in the country and can’t find a Hippopotamus anywhere.” The customer retorted, “Oh don’t be silly. Everyone knows where it is. Check your map!” The agent scoured a map of the state of New York and finally offered, “You don’t mean Buffalo, do you?” “That’s it! I knew it was a big animal!”
I had someone who wanted to stay at the Bob Newhart Inn in Connecticut. When I explained that the inn was fictional, the customer became very irate and insisted, “I know it is real, I see people check in every week!”