Women's Month Then & Now With Flight Centre's Sue Garrett

This Women’s Day 2022, we’d like to introduce you to just some of the women who have been with us since the beginning.

women's month

4min read

Published 9 August 2022


This Women’s Day 2022, we’d like to introduce you to just some of the women who have been with us since the beginning.

This Women’s Day 2022, we’d like to introduce you to just some of the women who have been with us since the beginning. As we celebrate our 40th birthday this year, we also celebrate the incredible women that have walked this journey with Flight Centre South Africa since the beginning. We salute you!

We thank you women of South Africa for your continued sacrifice to make a better world for all. Here are the stories from our Flight Centre women of Then & Now, as they share how the travel landscape and the world has changed over the past 40 years. In the first of our series, meet Sue Garrett, Flight Centre Travel Group General Manager Supply, Pricing and Marketing.

Key summary points


What does Women's Day mean to you? Do you feel it still has significance?

I feel that the 9th of August still holds tremendous significance to all women of South Africa – or it should! For me personally, the day is the opportunity to pay tribute to the generations of women who have fought hard for the empowerment of women in our country. On the 9th of August 1956 thousands of women took a stand for equal rights, laying the foundation for the progress made in the contest for gender equality today.

Tell us about the landscape of travel then and now.

Over my 25-year long career in travel, the landscape of travel has changed significantly as the world has become that much more accessible to everyone. Bar for the past two years, when the world shut down, the ease of turning a “dream” of travelling into a reality became far more affordable and relatively simple and safe. I feel the desire to escape and explore will be the key reason to travel for years to come.

How has travel changed over the last 40 years? 

Where do I begin! When I started my career with Flight Centre, the internet did not exist, which has now become such a critical tool in making a decision on your chosen destination, your airline or hotel or a simple thing like managing your travel budget! Instant hotel reservation systems did not exist. To make an accommodation booking you had to call the hotel directly after finding the number in a hotel directory!

We received all confirmations from airlines and hotels via fax, and customers paid for their travel using cheques! When we had completed our customers travel booking we would need to wait for the airline ticket to arrive in our store – normally 72 hours later, print off all other documentation (in black and white!), fit it all into a massive travel wallet to hand over to our customer. Nothing was instant and it somehow made the magic of travel almost more tangible!

What lessons have you learnt from the women in your life?

I have learnt many lessons from many strong and courageous women in my life, and I still do daily. However, one I learnt early on in my career was from an incredible mentor to me. She advised me to stop fighting to find the balance between career and family. She so rightly said that this was a myth as there was no balance. At certain times of your life career would take preference and at other times, family would. The search for this mythical “balance” on a daily basis would drive me stir crazy! Great advice!
On a personal note, I am extremely fortunate to have learnt many valuable lessons from my greatest inspiration – my Mum. She taught me from an early age that as a woman you may face many challenges linked to gender inequality, which prepared me to challenge the status quo of an industry that was very male centric when it came to managerial roles. However, she also instilled the value of respect and the fine art of acceptance for decisions I cannot influence.

What message do you want to share with women in the industry or women in South Africa in general?

Be kind. To each other and to our planet. Regardless of your background, your choices, your beliefs, the world needs kindness, and as women we are best positioned to give it.

Why is it exciting to be a woman in travel?

One reason – change! This industry is continuously evolving, from the technology to the trending destinations. It is an industry that allows you to re-invent yourself, time and time again.

Thank you, Sue – keep on flying the flag high!



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