The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) recently asked its members to report some of the strangest requests they had received. The agents reported many unusual stories, starting with the extremely detailed questions, continuing through the impossible to satisfy, and ending with the outright illegal.
Extremely detailed inquiries about arrangements are common. Some clients ask for such specific information that answers can only come from the actual providers. For example, one traveler announced “I need 12 extra pillows in my hotel room.”
In another instance of a need for extremely specific information, someone wanted to know, “Can you ask the hotel the color of the room so I can buy matching lingerie?” Another was concerned with geometry, inquiring, “Are the pillows in the room round or square?”
In many cases ASTA’s agents are left to explain to their customers that their requests are impossible, and sometimes they need to teach a little elementary school geography as well. This was the case for the agents who have to answer this common question, “Can I drive/take the train/take a bus to Hawaii?”
Another customer wanted to know, “Can the cruise ship place my bed on the balcony of my room so I can hear the ocean at night?”
Many of the impossible requests involve traveling with pets, with needs well beyond the need for a pet-friendly motel. To one, “How can I take all nine of my Chihuahuas on the plane with me?”, the agent’s response was only, “I’ll have to look into that for you.” Another client wanting to ship her horse to France in the cargo hold of a commercial flight was told there would not be enough room for the animal to travel safely.
In Texas, a customer wanted to know if he could take his pet armadillo in the cabin with him. Another agent told ASTA that one of his clients wanted to take her horse to France for a horseback riding tour, and transport the horse, not on a special plane configured for the purpose, but in the cargo hold of her commercial flight. The agent had to explain that her horse would not be safe in the hold due to lack of space.
In the arenas of safety and illegal activity, an agent was asked to guarantee the that a flight to the Washington, DC area would be safe Another was asked for help smuggling a short-wave radio into Kenya.
While not exactly illegal, rollaway beds are not allowed on cruise ships. A travel agent had a cruise line verify this for the benefit of a honeymooning couple. The bride’s mother had planned to join her daughter and husband in their stateroom on their honeymoon.
And finally, a couple from Montana who were apparently unaware of the size and speed of cruise ships, as their main interest was whether they could fish off the stern
Agents know that they will encounter the unusual and unexpected. Cheryl Hudak, CTC, ASTA president and CEO commented, “Every traveler has a different picture of the perfect vacation. I’ve received a few uncommon requests over the years but that’s what makes this job interesting. It’s also rewarding when I can accommodate those requests, planning the ideal vacation for my client.”
Visit www.TravelSense.org or www.ASTAnet.com to find a travel agent.