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Airline Ticket Caution

A recent show of yours (one of the first I have had occasion to enjoy but certainly not the last) clued me in on the potential wealth of information in your website. I wanted to gather details on the Portuguese destinations you mentioned in your 10/10 segment. My wife and I hope to follow through on your advise and visit Porto and the Pousada de Santa Marinha in February.

While searching your site for additional information on Portugal, I encountered a listener's recommendation of "bucket shops" as a source for good air fare deals. In all fairness, the writer was referring to ticket distribution in the U.K. but here in the U.S., a "bucket shop" is the last place I hope your listeners will look for a "good deal".

I am spokesperson for the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) and we were featured in a segment of Dateline NBC that aired on 10/14. The subject was stolen ticket stock and the related dangers to both travel agents and the traveling public. As the owners of the ticket stock entrusted to more than 46,000 travel agency points of sale, ARC is only too well aware of the issues surrounding theft of stock and the illicit resale thereof. Risking a sweeping generalization, it is our experience that the "bucket shop" is one of the best opportunities for the bargain hunting traveler to learn that "some deals are simply to good to be true." At best, a bucket shop is simply an unauthorized distribution point of an otherwise legitimate travel agency, e.g., the local barber shop or tobacconist. At worst, it is a reseller of stolen tickets armed with a toll-free number and a newspaper advertisement. Thanks in great part to publicity such as the Dateline NBC program, the travel industry is more aware than ever before of the need to curb fraudulent ticket practices. Ideally, this level of attention will serve to dissuade from ever making an ill-advised purchase in the first place. However, if they do find that "really great deal," the increased industry vigilance can easily lead to the naive traveler's loss of their investment and an unexpected change to their travel plans, not to mention some tense moments being quizzed by airport law enforcement on the nature of the traveler's shopping practices.

I need not tell you that the traveler has a great many choices when buying air travel and there is no telling which one is going to be their ideal avenue one at any given time, but please, please, please caution your listeners to KNOW THEIR SUPPLIER. Forming a relationship with a professional travel agent is one very excellent way to insure the best deal. Many travel agents are developing niche market specialities as a means of assuring profitability. For the traveler who spends the time finding the right travel agent for their market, it probably means getting even better service than ever before. Travel agents are better equipped than anyone to find a "deal" and as more often than not, a small business, their success hinges on repeat business.

Wish us luck in Porto.



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