Soooo, thanks to “________ Tours” my European adventure was briefly interrupted. Don’t worry, I’ve sent them a strongly worded, four page, ChrissyGram and as soon as the matter has been resolved, I’ll be telling that tale!! This company is to be avoided, unless of course you happen to enjoy paying to be tortured. But I digress.
In attempting to plan Part II of my journey (it’s actually Part III — Paris was Part I and the Tour was Part II), I came to a shocking realization. I realized that airlines are little more than opportunistic pariahs that will eagerly take advantage of the stupid or uninformed! Ok, perhaps that’s a bit harshly worded but you’ll understand in a minute.
I’ve been trying to figure out where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do next. I knew that I had to be in London in the 26th because I have tickets to the Lions game. I also have a deposit down on a flat rental in Paris. Other than that, I knew nada. Last night I thought I’d put together the perfect itinerary. I didn’t bother trying to book it because it was late, I was exhausted and I didn’t want to risk missing some small detail that would ruin my trip and end up costing me a bunch of money. When I got up this morning, I plugged the itinerary into one of those ‘discount search/booking’ sites only to get a quote for . . . $4,600+!!!! No, that does NOT include lodging. Now, I’ll admit that I’m booking kind of last minute (date of departure is exactly 7 days out) so prices, technically, should be a bit higher according to what the airlines tell you. But nearly $5,000 with NO accommodations?!?! If I wanted to blow a lot of money on nothing I’d book another tour with “_______ Tours!” Again, I digress.
As I frantically searched all of my super secret discount sites I realized that the original $4,600 quote could be beaten but it’d take some time to make it happen. I was able to match the exact travel dates and destinations of the $4,600 quote for a mere $1,180!! You’d think that was a great deal, right? HECK NO!!! The discounted fare was with an airline I’ve never flown before. It’s a reputable airline with safety and service ratings as good ,as or better than, my usual carriers. The problem is that I will probably never fly this airline again. Or it will be years before I find a reason to fly with them. That means I would’ve flown over 10,000 miles with no credit for it. By the time I find a reason to fly with this carrier again my 10,000 miles likely would have already expired. I found that to be wholly unacceptable! Especially considering the fact that I’ve used points and miles to subsidize a portion of this adventure. So here I was frantically searching, again, for a carrier with reasonable fares and meaningful points/miles.
My first search — who are the codeshare painters for this carrier? Within seconds I found a codeshare partner I already had points with. The problem? The codeshare partner didn’t operate on the routes I’d selected. “Foiled again, Batman!” Ok, think, think, think! Got it!! I’ll split the itinerary into smaller chunks to see if I could match the $1,180 fare. I’ll spare you the tedious details of how I finally made it happen but I was able to stay very close to the lower fare AND keep almost 9,000 miles! And that 9,000 is enough to earn me a free ticket!! SCORE!!!! What makes me angry is that had I not been determined to find a lower fare, had I not had a tad bit of knowledge about how to do so, the airlines would’ve gladly taken my money when they knew they could’ve provided me the same service at less than half of what they originally wanted to charge. I understand Capitalism. I don’t understand greed. If you make the fares reasonable people are more likely to fly and will do so more frequently. Instead, the airlines have made the fares so high and the experience so uncomfortable that people who don’t have the “travel bug” often give up before they even start. Also, the nonsensical myths about when to buy your tickets to get the best price also scare people into not traveling. People think that if they miss the 30 or 14-day advance purchase window they won’t be able to afford airfare. Wrong!! Just last week I bought an international flight with little more than 12 hours advance purchase and paid about what I would’ve paid had I bought it 14+ days ahead of time. I could’ve actually saved an additional $200 but that flight was taking off within hours of my booking and I hadn’t slept, packed, eaten or figured out how I was going to make the 55km journey to the airport.
The moral of the story:: if you think you can’t afford to travel, think again! You just have to be willing to do a little research. Don’t be afraid to ask your traveling friends how they do it. Travelers LOVE to tell their traveling tales, especially when they’ve gotten a great deal! So put in the work. A few hours could save you a few thousand dollars. That’s better than what that insurance company is promising. 😄
(Note: I booked all of this directly with the carriers and not through any of the discount sites. I’m my a fan of using those sites for anything other than searching.)