Tales from the Secret Agent: The phantom booking

By Lisa James
Home » Tales from the Secret Agent: The phantom booking

What a week. If I had a pound every time someone asks me if their flight in November will be affected by the ‘chaos’ at the airports, I’ll be packing for my round-the-world cruise on Silversea.

Two ladies I’ve never seen before literally dance into the office announcing they want a cheap break to Jersey.

A cheap deal is found from local airport and all is good.

Ten days before departure they bound in again to collect the tickets and off they go.

Fast forward to the evening of arrival and an email arrives in my inbox ‘demanding’ a move as this guest house is not ‘disabled friendly’. They are on the second floor and Rhona can’t manage the stairs.

“I expect a call first thing with a suitable alternative,” I am instructed.  

I firstly contact the very lovely owner who confirmed there are four steps to the room and it has a walk-in shower. So, although not a high-tech disabled room the likes of Stephen Hawking might require, it is certainly suitable for two 50-something ladies who you’d have thought might have mentioned that one had a disability if it was that important.

I relay the information to them and I am met with: “Well, I will be coming in as soon as I get back and I expect compensation.”

I expect to wake up each morning with a 28-inch waist, but some things are never going to happen and compensation for these two is one of them.

I hedge my bets to get myself prepared for a Coronation Street-style 1960s-type showdown and contact the lovely owner again just to see if he can confirm what we have discussed.

“Oh,” he says, “I met the ladies in the town yesterday and we had a good old chat.

“They are fine,” he informs me.

This was before they told me of the compensation claim, so I can’t wait for them to appear in the office.

I’m imagining them – one on crutches and one in a wheelchair – with suitable compo faces. I will keep you informed.

After a busy Saturday, I’m in the office with the door closed after hours, when a man and his 30-something daughter start knocking.

I open the door and am informed that they are desperate to book a holiday and can’t get in to see me at any other time, due to various commitments with work etc but they know exactly what they want and it won’t take a minute. 

Foolishly I agree to help them and, once installed in front of me, it transpires they have no idea what they want and are firmly in the ‘somewhere hot’ brigade.

As usual, money’s an issue but it’s local airport, good flight times, 4-star-plus, no kids and bang in the middle of the school holidays.

An hour in and with 12 holiday suggestions rejected for various reasons, we finally get Corfu and all is well in the world.


Except they now announce they have no cards with them and will ring me as soon as they get home to make payment. Not a lot I can do but agree and, as I am holding nothing, it’s not the end of the world if they don’t come back.

Four hours later and a bottle of Pinot down, there’s been no call.

Next morning however, an email arrives telling me that, due to a change of plans, they will have to put off the trip.

I’m pretty sure they have gone home and booked it themselves, so decide to email the hotel with a room request.

A quick reply from the hotel confirms that, yes, they can have a ground floor room in a quiet part of the resort.

Next day I email the resort again and sadly inform them that, due to unforeseen circumstances, they will no longer be able to stay at the resort and to please cancel the room.

A quick confirmation from the resort confirms that the request is done and there will be no cancellation charge (shame). 

Well, to be fair, I was only doing as instructed by the client… sort of.

Travel Gossip’s Secret Agent stories appear every other Saturday. If you enjoyed reading this episode, there are more here.

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