Tales from the Secret Agent: Going Down Under

By Lisa James
17/06/2024
Home » Tales from the Secret Agent: Going Down Under

I get a call from a client I helped out last year. He’s enquiring about taking his wife, who isn’t in the best health, back to Sydney to see their daughter.

Last year, before I knew he even existed, he booked through Skyscanner with a well-known online agent. Happy with their bargain flights to Sydney, he and his wife got to the airport to be told that, as they didn’t have an Australian ETA, they couldn’t board the flight.

He contacted the online agent who assured him that they would rebook him on the next day’s flight and directed him to the visa application page online.

Being in his late 70s, he didn’t have a clue how to apply for an ETA and his grandson, who always books with me, asked if I could help.

I applied on his behalf, the ETAs came through quickly and the couple took themselves off to the Premier inn at Heathrow to await the flight the next day.

Next day he’s nice and early for check-in, clutching the important ETA confirmations in his hand. However, the online agent hadn’t rebooked as promised and they were again denied boarding because the flight was overbooked.

I only found this out days later when he appeared at the office with a bottle of wine for my troubles.

The tickets were non-refundable, but I have a great contact at Malaysia Airlines and, despite offering no guarantees, I got Malaysia Airlines to kindly agree to rebook him for the next available date. I liaised with the online agent and they eventually departed 10 days after the first attempt. 

Fast forward to today and he’s on the phone. He wants two flights to Sydney for September for three weeks.

“Not Malaysia Airlines,” I’m informed, after what they ‘did’ to him last time.

I feel like reminding him that what they ‘did’ for him last time went well and truly above what they were required to do. But I decide to let it go.

He’s been told Singapore Airlines are a good choice and reels off what he wants: Evening flight, two or three-hour change in Singapore, two aisle seats and a vegetarian meal for the wife.

I do the research and find the perfect flights for him, giving him everything he’s asked for and give him the price.

There’s a silence followed by: “Well, I’ve seen this on Skyscanner with (the same online agent he used last year…) for £55 per person cheaper.”

“No problem,” I say, before he can catch a breath.

“Have a lovely time in Australia,” and I end the call.

I’ve a feeling he may call back to book with me but I also have a feeling that flight may have mysteriously sold out by then…

Read more Secret Agent tales here.

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