[Resolved] Gate 1 TravelRacist Comments by Tour Director - Horrible Experience!

D Review updated:

I booked the Portugal – Spain vacation as a high school graduation present for my son. The trip was scheduled June 8 - 22 and it was purchased for the two (2) of us for over $7, 000 with Gate 1 Travel. With the exception of Fatima Burgarin, Travel Director, the trip was good. Fatima failed miserably in providing exceptional customer service and she failed miserably in regional cultural sensitivity.

On the last night, during the farewell dinner, she proposed a Champaign toast. She said, “Iny Meany My Nemo, catch a “N” (The “N” word used to describe Black People/African – Americans) by his toe; if he squeals, let him go, Eny, meeny, miney, moe.” This is the racist version of the nursery rhyme. As our glasses were suspended in the air, I was in disbelief, hurt, confused, and embarrassed. My son and I were the only African-Americans among 40 phenomenal travelers. The lady sitting next to me who has a bi-racial daughter said, “Did she say what I thought she said? I responded yes, she did!”

The issue wasn’t that my son and I were the only African-Americans on the trip; however, the issue was that I didn’t pay $7, 000+ dollars to have a representative of Gate 1 to disassemble my entire experience with her lack of regional cultural sensitivity. The cultural insensitivity experienced caused me to have to console my son and to counsel him on the ignorance and embarrassment that was projected on him by Fatima’s remarks.
Upon our return, I went through the chain of command and wrote the Karina Avesian, Reservationist. She referred the complaint to Customer Service. After receiving an e-mail from Anne Saldutte, Customer Service, I wrote and submitted the complaint. One week passed and I didn’t receive any feedback, so I inquired about the status of the complaint. Days went buy and they said they are still looking into it. One week passed, and I requested to speak with the Customer Service Manager. I received a notice from Ann with an offer of $100.00 as a goodwill gesture for us being subjected to hearing the word “N” towards a future trip within the calendar year of 2017.

After receiving the e-mail from Anne, I then sent another e-mail. The e-mail stated, “I requested to speak with a manager, which was not granted. I will not accept $100.00 towards another trip. This further adds insult to the injury!” Days went by and I received a telephone call from Caitlin Spindler, Customer Service Manager, telling me that they apologize and can’t take back what was said by Fatima. I told her that the $100.00 goodwill gesture further adds insult to the wound. She then asked me to tell her what I wanted. I told her that they are a mega conglomerate company, and they needed to resolve the situation and to make it right for my son and me. We didn’t ask to be insulted while traveling with Gate 1 Travel. I didn’t pay $7, 000+ dollars to have my vacation ruined by Fatima Burgarin, Travel Director.

I sent a letter along with the e-mails to Dani Pipano, President and Marty Seslow, Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Over two (2) weeks went by before I received a response. An e-mail was received from Caitlin Spindler, Customer Service Manager, pretty much re-stating was stated before. There was no resolve to this issue.

I will not recommend this company to anyone because they failed in providing exceptional customer services from the President down Customer Service when we needed them the most. You never know the potential of a company until you are met with a challenging experiences, like this one.

What we experienced changed the course of our vacation. To-date, we are still hurt and having extensive discussions on the matter. Apparently, Gate 1 Travel doesn’t provide regional cultural sensitivity training to the Travel Directors or exceptional customer service training. It’s apparent to me that they are not equipped to handle or be accountable when areas, like what we experienced, are breached. As a mother, I could not allow this experience to go undocumented and allowed my son to see what I wrote and the feedback received to allow him to see how some corporations can fail you, the customer, miserably as Gate 1 Travel has failed us on so many levels.

I decided not to go the legal route and to allow the public seeking reviews about Gate 1 Travel to hear my story and to make an informed decision prior to booking with the company. I have all of the e-mails and the letters sent to the Presidents to support this very toxic experience.

The question I have is how would you have handled the situation? How do you think that Gate 1 Travel should have handled the situation? How do you think that Gate 1 Travel should have compensated us?

  • Gate 1 Travel's response · Jul 29, 2016

    Our whole business is designed to encourage others to experience the cultural diversity around the world . We employ many different nationalities and ethnic groups in our offices around the world and our largest office here in the US. We take pride in the diversity of our staff and believe that diversity has greatly contributed to our success.
    As such when we received your comments we immediately shared them with our management team that is responsible for tour managers, to not only review but to ensure the proper measures were taken. As for the credit, it was not meant to be insulting however as you indicated you were interested in booking another trip when you initially shared your concerns, we simply wanted to make a gesture of goodwill.


  • Why The Long Faces Jul 28, 2016

    In my opinion, you were the one who lacked cultural sensitivity. Meaning, you were sensitive to a culture that is different than you are used to. When you go to other countries, you defer to their ways. They are not required to defer to yours. Sometimes, people are offended by things that other people see as normal.

    In Spanish speaking countries, the word for black is NEGRO. In most Spanish speaking countries, people are not as politically correct as this one has become, and most people who live there are not as concerned about offending you as you are about being offended. I would take it as a lesson in learning. You have learned that other cultures as not as sensitive as ours. You have also learned to gain a thicker skin.

    6 Votes
  • Do
    DoraC Jul 28, 2016

    When working for an American based company, the expectation is that all of Gate 1's employees should provide high levels of customer service and
    should have received regional cultural sensitivity training. Everyone should be accountable and while I respect your opposing views, the comments were unacceptable regardless of the region. You cannot separate the company from the behavior.

    1 Votes
  • Do
    DoraC Jul 28, 2016

    While I respect your opinion, I don't agree with it because you cannot separate Gate 1 Travel from the comments made by the Tour Director. Gate 1 Travel is an American based company and it is responsible for providing regional cultural sensitivity training to their employees in the United States and Internationally. The first rule in business is to know your audience and clearly they didn't care. It's easy to judge the situation without having experienced this very toxic experience. No one regardless of their ethnicity should ever experience anything like this from a company representative. Walk a mile in our shoes and see how your lesson of color will resonate with you. Can you explain her remarks about hating Spanish people??? The comment was made and the travelers were in shock. This further supports the company's lack of training or the employees unwillingness to adhere to the requirements. Regardless accountability is required on the behalf of the company.

    0 Votes
  • Do
    DoraC Jul 29, 2016

    We respect and appreciate the feedback we have received in regards to our travel experience with Gate 1.
    In response to the comments, I would like to say that the first rule in business is to know your audience prior to initiating any form of communications. Next, it is imperative to have an understanding of the diversities ethnic groups and cultures when providing when providing customer service in business.

    Gate 1 is a U.S. based company that conducts business nationally and internationally. When hiring from both regions in providing customer service, it is imperative for the company to provide ethnic, culture, and diversity sensitivity trainings to all of their employees to mitigate risks and liabilities. Education always trump ignorance! I really don’t fault the Tour Director, I fault Gate 1. If she had been provided he tools, resources, and received adequate training, the risk factor would have been mitigated. She works for a U.S. company and everyone on the escorted tour were U.S. Citizens.

    During the toast, I didn’t say anything because I was in shock and needed time to process. I compartmentalized the raw feelings I’d encountered. Some of the travelers who spoke with me about the situation were in shock too! Even though we were feeling terrible, we took the high road and I told my son that we will have a discussion upon our return to the hotel room. During our discussion, I told him how I was going to handle the situation and he has been involved every step of the way. In our effort to resolve the situation, we drafted the complaint and respected the chain of command, which involved the reservationist, customer service, president, vice-president and last resort the social media outlets.

    This is how I would like for Gate 1 to bring resolve to the issue…

    1. Mail a formal letter of apology to all of the travelers who shared the escorted tour
    2. Provide a prorated refund to all of the travelers the last day of travel based upon the total cost expended. For an example, the cost of the trip was $7, 000/15 days = $466.00 per day. The refund should be $466.00 for the day.
    3. Provide ethnic, culture & diversity sensitivity training to all national and international employees
    4. Streamline the customer complaint process and improve the policies & procedures
    5. Ensure the complaints are taken seriously
    6. Understand complaints are critical and handle them with a sense of urgency that includes a reasonable maximum number of days to resolve
    7. Provide customers with substantive feedback and resolutions

    Gate 1 Travel failed us miserably and we had the potential to become repeat customers; however, under the circumstances, we will not recommend the company to any of my family members and friends. Gate 1 stated they offered the $100 as a goodwill because I desired to travel with them again; however, this implication was taken out of context. How they handled the situation would determine if we would travel with them again. My son and I appreciate the feedback and wish everyone all the best in their future traveling endeavors.

    1 Votes
  • Why The Long Faces Jul 30, 2016

    She didn't make a racist comment. She sang a rhyme that kids have been singing, ALL KIDS, white and black, have been singing for decades.

    As for my skin color, when we were in Mexico, we were offered pot and a pipe to smoke it with at the Black Market, because 'all white people get high'. We did not get offended. We laughed about it. You honestly need to stop being so offended by a word that nearly every black person in this country calls themselves, and their friends.

    2 Votes
  • Ro
    Ron J J Oct 21, 2016

    Aborigines in Australia are also black and very thin skinned. Every time something is said about the behavior of one or two of them its deemed racist--- even though they are over represented in the prison system ten fold while having only 3% of the population. "### " is never used in Australia and never has been but now Abo, the common abbreviation for Aboriginal is a no no. Yet Abos very often refer to themselves as blackfellas, and call us whities. Everyone needs to grow up. Whatever happened to "Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me".

    Ron Jarvis, Sorrento West Aust 21St Oct 2016

    0 Votes
  • Pu
    puppe29 Oct 30, 2018


    Here is my story: I booked my second trip with Gate 1 Travel. My flight is tomorrow, 31 October 2018, and one leg of the departure time was changed. When I inquired with Gate 1, I was told that Delta made the change. I spend last night about six hours between Gate 1 and Delta, each one accused the other of being wrong. Delta stated that the time did not change whereas Gate 1 insisted that it did and consequently the transportation to the airport would be changed as well. My genuine concern was that I would miss the flight as well as all connecting flights. Doing my own research late last night, I called Air France, who is flighing that leg and they confirmed that the time never changed. Since I spoke with a supervisor in the afternoon, she stated that she was going to do the research and call me back this morning. Essentially I did the work for Gate 1 to find out what the accurate time of the flight was. I have called Gate 1 twice this morning and am being told that she will not be in today. What a mess!!! Potentially there are more passengers that received the same information about the delayed flight and because Gate 1 is making no attempt to find out why they have the incorrect time. Delta told me that if I miss my flight from Morocco that they assume no responsibility to rebook passengers flights, it is up to the travel agency. I will NEVER book with Gate 1 again and can only hope that the final trip I am going to make with them will go off without a hitch. On a last note I would like to mention that Gate one has some of the most rude staff, as well as a few and knowledgeable people that are willing to go that extra mile to assist, but unfortunately they are far and few between . However, in my experience the majority is rude when they try to cover up that they don't have a clue.

    2 Votes

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