Among the numerous changes the coming year will bring to the Union, the branch of the STA Travel Agency located in the basement of the Union has unexpectedly closed its doors.

STA is largely involved in helping students plan trips and book flights for vacations and study abroad.

Michigan Union Director Susan Pile said the closure was STA’s decision and the University had no say in the matter.

“Corporate decided to close eight locations nationally, and this was one of the decisions that they felt they had to make,” Pile said. “They didn’t disclose their reasons for doing so, but we can only speculate that it had something to do with the productivity of the location.”

There are 14,000 to 15,000 retail travel agencies today compared to the 34,000 in the mid-1990s, according to PhoCusWright, a travel research firm.

Because this decision was so sudden, the University hasn’t yet contemplated options for filling the space. Pile said they are uncertain at this time if they will have another company renting the space in the fall.

“It’s unfortunate that this happened, obviously,” Pile said. “But it’s a corporate decision, and they are well within their rights to do that.”

Both the Union location and STA’s corporate offices could not be reached after several attempts for comment, and the University doesn’t have any data on student use of the business.

LSA senior Emily Schapka booked two flights to France and Germany with STA. She said she had shopped around online to compare prices, but was satisfied with her experience with the travel agency.

Schapka said she believes that she saved both time and money using the agency, but that the real value came from having her own agent, especially when she had to switch the dates of her flights to France.

“When I realized I had a conflict with the dates of my trip, it was so much more convenient to talk to the same person,” Schapka said.

Last week, unknown pranksters posted a sign near the former location of STA suggesting that Chick-fil-A would fill the space. However, union officials said the signs were a hoax.

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