Reservation and Transportation Ticket Agents and Travel Clerks Career Information
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Nature of the WorkEach year, millions of Americans travel by
plane, train, ship, bus, and automobile. Many of these travelers rely on the
services of reservation and transportation ticket agents and travel clerks.
These ticket agents and clerks perform functions as varied as selling tickets,
confirming reservations, checking baggage, and providing tourists with useful
Most reservation agents work for large hotel chains or airlines, helping people plan trips and make reservations. They usually work in large reservation centers answering telephone or e-mail inquiries and offering suggestions on travel arrangements, such as routes, time schedules, rates, and types of accommodation. Reservation agents quote fares and room rates, provide travel information, and make and confirm transportation and hotel reservations. Most agents use proprietary networks to quickly obtain information needed to make, change, or cancel reservations for customers.
Transportation ticket agents are sometimes known as passenger service agents, passenger-booking clerks, reservation clerks, airport service agents, ticket clerks, or ticket sellers. They work in airports, train, and bus stations selling tickets, assigning seats to passengers, and checking baggage. In addition, they may answer inquiries and give directions, examine passports and visas, or check in pets. Other ticket agents, more commonly known as gate or station agents, work in airport terminals assisting passengers boarding airplanes. These workers direct passengers to the correct boarding area, check tickets and seat assignments, make boarding announcements, and provide special assistance to young, elderly, or disabled passengers when they board or disembark.
Most travel clerks are employed by membership organizations, such as automobile clubs. These workers, sometimes called member services counselors or travel counselors, plan trips, calculate mileage, and offer travel suggestions, such as the best route from the point of origin to the destination, for club members. Travel clerks also may prepare an itinerary indicating points of interest, restaurants, overnight accommodations, and availability of emergency services during the trip. In some cases, they make rental car, hotel, and restaurant reservations for club members.
Passenger rate clerks generally work for bus companies. They sell tickets for regular bus routes and arrange nonscheduled or chartered trips. They plan travel routes, compute rates, and keep customers informed of appropriate details. They also may arrange travel accommodations.
EmploymentReservation and transportation ticket agents and travel clerks held about 191,000 jobs in 2009. More than 6 of every 10 are employed by airlines. Others work for membership organizations, such as automobile clubs; hotels and other lodging places; railroad companies; bus lines; and other companies that provide transportation services.
Although agents and clerks are found throughout the country, most work in large metropolitan airports, downtown ticket offices, large reservation centers, and train or bus stations. The remainder work in small communities served only by intercity bus or railroad lines.
Job OutlookApplicants for reservation and transportation ticket agent jobs are likely to encounter considerable competition, because the supply of qualified applicants exceeds the expected number of job openings. Entry requirements for these jobs are minimal, and many people seeking to get into the airline industry or travel business often start out in these types of positions. These jobs provide excellent travel benefits, and many people view airline and other travel-related jobs as glamorous.
Employment of reservation and transportation ticket agents and travel clerks is expected to for all occupations through 2010.
Employment of reservation and transportation ticket agents and travel clerks is sensitive to cyclical swings in the economy. During recessions, discretionary passenger travel declines, and transportation service companies are less likely to hire new workers and even may resort to layoffs.
Median annual earnings of reservation and transportation ticket agents and travel clerks in May 2009 were $27,750. The middle 50 percent earned between $21,430 and $39,410. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $17,720, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $45,100. Many employers offer discounts on travel services to their employees. In May 2009, median annual earnings in the industries employing the larges number of agents were:
|Scheduled air transportation||$31,750|
|Travel arrangement and reservation services||22,370|
Travel agents organize and schedule business, educational, or recreational travel or activities. Other workers with similar responsibilities include tour guides and escorts, travel guides, reservation and transportation ticket agents and travel clerks, retail salespersons, and hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks.
Sources of Additional InformationFor information about job opportunities as
reservation and transportation ticket agents and travel clerks, write the personnel
manager of individual transportation companies. Addresses of airlines are available
Air Transport Association of America, 1301 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20004-1707.