Thursday, June 10, 2010

The best deal on a plane ticket

Summer is a time of vacations and many of us have been or will be purchasing plane tickets for these long-dreamed-about trips. I usually look for a minimum number of stops, convenient hours, not too short and not too long a layover, and a familiar airline. Then, I go for the cheapest selection on this list. The difference between the least expensive choice and the next one is usually around 5%. That can be $50 for an International flight or $15 for domestic. Sounds like a good strategy, right? On my recent trip I was not so sure about that.
My least expensive choice didn't have personal TV screens in front of every seat, something that became very common on large planes and long international flights. On the way back, audio, light and even flight attendant buttons didn't work for the whole row of seats I was in. Toilets were dirty, food bad, flight attendants not very courteous. There were no eye cover and comfy socks that I know are being offered (or have been a year ago) on the airline that was next in price. Long-distance flights are never easy but for parents-flying-solo they can be rejuvenating: read, eat, watch, chat and sleep. Just yourself to worry about for a few hours or perhaps even a whole day. Quantifying all the things I expected but didn't get on my last trip, I am wondering whether this $50 difference was significant.

Perhaps I should adopt the same strategy as in a restaurant wine selection rule: pick second from the least expensive and you won't miss. What do you think?

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Tom said...

1) I make the same mistake too often, trying to save $10 or 15.
2) There are better sources of information on flight quality online.
3) What do we expect, anyway, for a few hundred dollars?
4) That's why there is alcohol and drugs, or that's one good reason.
5) I bring my own eyeshade, food, water, book or kindle, clip on light (if I remember!).

Second from the bottom? Not a bad start. But for me, SCHEDULE is everything cuz I'm 6'3"

Lynnet said...

Well, with wine the good stuff would likely be more expensive,but it all depends on your taste

Maria said...

Yep, Tom, that's a good option. Pick the cheapest among the most convenient fare but bring your own: eye shade, ear plugs, ear phones, pillow, food, water, drink, book and laptop with a few movies. Never rely on anyone else or anything to make your experience pleasant. Make it pleasant yourself. I will keep it in mind for a next trip.

And when comparing the fare, let's remember to take into account:
-cost and quality of food, buying your own would run $10-20
-are drinks free? count at least $5 if not
-can you enjoy two movies of your own choice at the time of your choice, quantify this as at least $15
- eye shade $5
-socks that allow you to take off your shoes and walk around, say $5
- kits for kids that make them happy and busy for at least 30mins, priceless! OK, at least $40

it adds up so quickly to those $50-100 that is your fare difference

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