Kudos to Action 6.com and the Institute of Certified Travel Agents for developing an Internet training program for travel agents and coming up with the designation Certified Internet Travel Specialist to go with it.

This is a nice example of self-help, a project whereby travel agents can learn, and be credited with knowing, how to use the vast resources of the Internet to supplement the venerable CRSs.

We also like it because it's an example of the travel agency community putting its money where its mouth is on the issue of professionalism.

Agents rightfully express disdain for the thousands of bargain-hunting Internet do-it-yourselfers who think that a few mouse clicks on the right Web sites can make them instant travel agents.

By the same token, it seems to us, travel agents cannot expect to teach themselves everything they need to know about the Web. Most Web surfers are self-taught. For most amateurs, that's good enough. But is that going to be good enough for travel professionals who are trying to harness the Internet to stay one step ahead of their clients?

If agents are to stay on top of their profession, they have to know everything there is to know about what the Web has to offer them and what it has to offer consumers. It's going to be a continuing challenge. It's good to see somebody stepping up to it.

Applause also is in order for Swissair and Sabena, which have proved that, once in a while, airlines can get it right. The carriers have come up with a smart and hassle-free system for placating arriving passengers with lost baggage who need to take care of immediate necessities: debit cards. As the carriers explain it, the MasterCard debit cards give passengers "the freedom, choice and power to purchase what they need while waiting for the lost luggage."

What a concept!

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