Travel Agents

okihai

CONTRIBUTED BY JOELLE YAMADA

Travel changes people.  It broadens perspectives and teaches new ways to measure quality of Life.  Many travelers toss aside their hometown blinders.  Their prized souvenirs are the strands of different cultures they decide to knit into their own character.                   — Rick Steves, Europe Through the Back Door

This wandering life of ours certainly allows for an awful lot of knitting.  I remember in my first months as a military spouse going to the home of one of my husbands co-workers and seeing in the entryway a wood sign that said “Home is where the heart is:  The Smiths.”  Attached beneath this sign were smaller wooden pieces, each with the name of a city & country where the Smiths’ hearts had lived for a time.  There were many, many, many pieces.  I was a bit overwhelmed and yet have come to see the richness this sort of travelling-life can bring.

And if anyone knows where I can get one of those signs??

On a less happy note, if you have not already discovered, H.I.T. travel seems to be in the process of bankruptcy.  I have one friend who lost every cent of the $1800 cash she’d paid them for tickets to fly to the States next week.  When she called the airline, there was indeed a reservation for her, but no payment for the tickets.  She has had to pay twice.  Made me want to cry just hearing her talk about it.  Unfortunately, I’m sure this has effected more than one of you and if it doesn’t make you throw up to talk about it, I’d appreciate you sharing how you are handling the situation in hopes that others might benefit from your experience.

On the more positive side, I’d like to ask what travel agents you have used SUCCESSFULLY and would suggest to the rest of us.  Personally, I’m interested in having someone book some outer island travel for us (hotels, ferrys, etc).  Any suggestions will be appreciated!

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15 Comments
  • July 5, 2008

    That just made my stomach drop to hear of HIT and the money your friend lost. I just tried to call HIT yesterday for ticket pricing (no one answered). That could have been me!
    It seems that when I have priced things, HIS and IAce seem to be the most reasonable.

    Reply
  • July 5, 2008

    Wooden Signs- When we were at Lejeune (a little over 2 years ago) they had a craft fair. There was a lady there who made the signs. I wanted one, but we had only been at 2 bases (it came with 4 hearts) and I didn’t want to have to write on them myself. Now I wish I had boughten the thing because I still want it and can’t seem to find it anywhere. I even tried a goole search around Christmas for my husbands present. Hopefully someone knows where to find one!
    As for travel agents we use Omega inside the Foster Tours Plus building. Always have good rates.

    bambi caldwell
    Reply
  • July 5, 2008

    Wooden signs – here is a link to a store on etsy that will handcraft your own sign http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?ref=sr_list_8&listing_id=11080094 or you may want to check ebay for one. Hope this helps!

    Heather N.
    Reply
  • July 5, 2008

    Thanks, Heather! I just bought her last one, but emailed her to say that she might want to make some more as we’d just mentioned her on our blog. So take a look anyway!!

    Joelle
    Reply
  • July 6, 2008

    Hi there you all!! And thanks Joelle for sending me the message about my sign being sold out and thanks Heather for letting everyone know about my Etsy store. I actually have a website that has a few more designs on it if you would like to look, http://www.signsofpatriotism.com, have a great day!!

    JaNae

    Reply
  • July 6, 2008

    I have seen these signs for sale in the militarywives.com online store. Here is the link http://www.militarywives.com/catalog/index.php/cPath/231?osCsid=ee6cc35887593eb3b54b758e29aafc36
    So cute!

    Meredith #2
    Reply
  • July 6, 2008

    YEAH you bought my friend JaNae’s sign. I was getting ready to post that she made them and then she had a comment there.

    She has the best signs, plus she is the most awesome woman EVER! Buy buy buy.. . then she can finance a trip to come see me!!!

    The travel agent story freaked me out. How sad/scary.

    Tara H
    Reply
  • July 7, 2008

    Tara that is funny I had no idea who she was I just love etsy and found her signs. They are beutiful and I will be buying a few different ones for gifts!

    Heather N.
    Reply
  • July 7, 2008

    We used HIS on Gate 2 street for 2 tickets to the US (LAX) via Taipei on China Airlines recently ($910 roundtrip with less than 2 weeks advance purchase). We also used them last summer to purchase tickets to Hong Kong (also on China Airlines) for the best price we could find (maybe $5100-ish?). Friends have had very positive experiences with IACE on Kadena AB (near Gate 4, which is permanently closed, other side of the flightline).

    For flights within Japan on any of the 3 airlines that serve Okinawa (JAL, ANA & Skymark), we’ve had great success using the airlines’ websites to purchase without any agency’s assistance. JAL’s site isn’t actually translated into English, but we struggle thru the rough translate.google.com translation into Engrish (sort of).

    For ferries, we got a printout of current prices & schedules from Kadena ITT (I think they can call to book tickets or at least get info), but we usually just show up to the appropriate ferry ports to purchase our tickets (even the same day of travel). So far we’ve gone to Tokashiki (largest of the Keramas) & Kume (due west of Naha) out of Tomari Port (in Naha) & Yoron (due north) & Ie (due west of Motobu peninsula) out of Motobu Port (just this side of Expo Park). Ferry travel has been pleasant, affordable & punctual.

    Josh Murphy
    Reply
  • July 7, 2008

    Last Christmas we used HIS travel on Gt.2 St. They offered the cheapest price at the time and the best service along with it. This Christmas I expect we will be using them again.

    OTS (Okinawa Tourist Service) in the Plaza House shopping complex were also good on the service, just not the price at the time. I would definately try them if I were looking for info on Japan domestic travel.

    Kate
    Reply
  • July 7, 2008

    Just a heads up that the OTS at Plaza Housing is no longer there. They have closed that branch down and I believe they are now located around KAB Gate 2. Our experience with that OTS prior to their relocation was good as far as service and pricing though.

    Julia
    Reply
  • July 8, 2008

    If anyone knows someone who has been affected by H.I.T.’s bankruptcy, they can file a claim with the Tokyo Tourism Office. Claims have to be received by July 31. I posted a discussion on the Okinawa Hai Society page with instructions on how to file a claim. I hope it helps!

    Jenn
    Reply
  • July 19, 2008

    Does anyone know if the HIT on Gate 2 is closed? I had my passports, itinerary, tickets, and receipt all stolen. I was told to get a hold of the travel agency for help. I’m stuck here in California and I don’t know what to do….

    V Oakes
    Reply
  • July 19, 2008

    V…that’s terrible!!!! HIT is closed. They went under and apparently stole a great deal of money from military members. I would contact your command or husband’s command to see what you need to do to get back. I don’t know where you’re at in Cali but if you’re by a base there you can go to SATO to get help with the passport issue. They’re going to need to report it stolen for security purposes and you’ll probably have to go through the routine of getting a new one there. As far as the flights…maybe you could try to contact the airline to see if you could get another set of tickets (if they even offer paper ones anymore). I know that whenever we fly we don’t usually have anything physically to show paperwise besides our ID’s. We just show up and we’re already in the computer. I hope you get this all resolved quickly!

    Suzy
    Reply
  • July 27, 2008

    I have always used HIS for all my travel needs. I use the one out Gate 2. They have excellent customer service and great prices. I rarely use ITT but I do sometimes do a price check there just to see if I am getting the best deal at HIS and I almost always am.

    Note though, you need to pay in yen cash so once you have reservations and know how much the tickets will be, make sure to bring yen cash to buy the tickets, so you don’t have to make more than one trip to the office.

    Reply