From the New York Times
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Gene Luntz, an artist's representative in Manhattan who flies six to eight times a year for work, is one of the converts.
After years of booking his travel online, through Web sites like Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia and Priceline.com, he has gone back to using a travel agent.
Yes, they still exist, those people who until the mid-1990s booked about 75 percent of airline tickets and had as much power as God but then seemed at risk of extinction. In fact, many travel agents -- or travel specialists, as they are now known -- say they have seen an increase in business in the last year or so.
One big reason, they say, is that travelers say they do not have the time or energy to scour the Internet for the best deals. And they crave a personal touch that a disembodied voice in a call center cannot provide. Many of the returning customers offer variations of the tale Mr. Luntz, 60, told.
About two years ago, he said, he bought plane tickets on Priceline.com. The day before he was to leave, he caught a vicious cold. He spent hours on the phone, he said, trying to find someone to help him change his flight. But he was unsuccessful and ended up throwing the tickets away. ''Going to the Internet is an absolute nightmare,'' Mr. Luntz said.
That is when he called his former travel agent at the Tzell Travel Group in Manhattan. ''She's available for phone calls. She returns calls,'' he said. ''They take really good care of me, despite the fact that I'm not General Motors. The most amazing thing is that for the price of a Starbucks coffee for my girlfriend and me, I have someone on the other end that can help me, as opposed to a Web site that can give me no response.''