Lynn Ellis is on the front lines of new battle among online travel agencies.

She's a customer-care specialist at Orbitz and she's responsible for helping customers after they've bought an airline ticket on the Orbitz Web site.

Last week, Ellis found Carole Cooper-Haims a new flight from Philadelphia to Rochester, N.Y., after her earlier flight was canceled due to mechanical problems. Ellis made the change while Cooper-Haims was en route to Philadelphia from Dallas, unaware that her connecting flight had been canceled. She notified the customer of the alternate plans by leaving a voice mail on her cell phone.

"Now she's not stuck waiting in line at the customer-service counter in Philadelphia," said Ellis, a former customer-service manager at American Airlines. "I also got her an assigned seat."

Orbitz and other online travel companies like Expedia and Travelocity are rolling out the red carpet to increase the loyalty of travelers and even lurecustomers from other travel sites. They have teams of dedicated customer-service agents on call to address travel problems ranging from weather delays to oversold hotels. Many times, like in the case of Cooper-Haims, they help prevent travel headaches. They are upping the ante on customer service in an effort to create a better travel experience for everyone.

"This is about creating an experience," said Henry Harteveldt, vice president of travel research at Forrester Research. "They have to give people a reason to select them beyond price because everyone is pretty much even on price."

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