July 25. Many travel agents say they have never been busier amid air travel chaos and a post-covid lockdown surge in demand this summer. The job, which has long been thought to be in decline due to the increasing ease of online self-booking, may be making a resurgence.
“Before the pandemic, we used to get questions all the time about, ‘Oh, travel agents, do those still exist?’,” said Thomas Carpenter, cofounder of Huckleberry Travel. “Since the pandemic, we don’t get that question any longer,” he said.
Some travel agents, or travel advisors as many prefer to be called, say they have been flooded by a deluge of new clients in recent months.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there were more than 37,000 people in the US employed as travel agents, as of May 2021. That’s a significant drop from more than 80,000 tallied just 5 years before in 2016.
This smaller pool of agents is now being faced with what some say is unprecedented demand for help booking travel.
The issue is exacerbated by the recent uptick in airline mayhem. Some travel agents say they now spend more time on hold with airlines than ever, given recent cancelations, delays, and lost luggage.