I recently sat down with one of the SAIT students who is registered in the Travel and Tourism program.  One of their projects was to interview someone in the travel industry and so I happily obliged.  In this day and age of so many people viewing a career as a travel professional as a side-line “hobby” it is gratifying to know that SAIT’s travel program is still so robust.

I was, however, stumped when I was asked the question – What is the worst experience you have ever had during your travels?

Goodness me.  I could not think of one.  Is that weird?  Am I just incredibly lucky or maybe I am a positive person and focus on the good and forget the bad?  I wracked my brain.  C’mon Lesley – surely there must have been something terrible that has happened on all the travel trips I have undertaken.

Nope …. Nothing there.


I dug deeper into my memory!

YES – I got it!  I have something for you I told the young student.

Travelling down to San Juan for a cruise we had to go via Dallas.  Well Dallas had half an inch of snow.  No big deal to us at YYC but in Dallas it was a catastrophe.  All flights cancelled.  People milling around – grumbling and moaning.  In anticipation of angry mobs the American Airlines check in ladies were moved and replaced by some burly looking guys.  (Yeah – go on – you try making me cry!)

OK – no problem.  I am a travel agent and I have a team at home to help.  I called and asked them to get me a room for the night – somewhere.  Eventually they got me a booking at a motel about 30 kms from the airport.  Grabbed a taxi – got to the hotel – only to find that they denied all knowledge of the booking even though I had a confirmation number and email.

Hmmmm – this comes to the second question – What is the most frustrating part of being a travel agent.  Exactly this – when suppliers – be it hotels, transfer companies or airlines don’t do what we have booked them to do and then just deny any knowledge of how this happened…. Anyway that is another story.

So grabbed a quick meal at the local diner – met some very interesting locals (not) – and then took another expensive taxi back to Dallas.

In the meantime the airport had called in help to provide blankets and cots.  Of course because I had been out chasing my tail there were non left for yours truly.  Now what?  When all else fails find a pub.  The Irish Pub was in full swing.  A Stagette group who were on their way to Vegas had their stagette at the pub.  It was fun.

That night we slept on the floor in the airport.

Now I guess that was the worst experience that I can think of for now.  I had to really really think about it.

As for the best travel experience ……  Have you got a few weeks to spare – it’s a long list!!!

By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.

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