Monday, March 12, 2012

Looking for The One (plane tickets)

Yes, it's already time to be thinking about summer travel. We're planning on visiting the US for several weeks during July and August, so kayak.com is my current best friend. And just because the plane tickets are technically paid for by Jeremy's employer doesn't mean the process isn't still incredibly complicated. We get to keep any excess money left over from the ticket allowance, so it's in our best interests to find a good price. We also have plenty of experience flying overseas with kids and so we know what kind of flight we want.

There's an Emirates Airlines DXB-Seattle flight that we are pining after. It's a scant 14 hours long with a subsequent 45-minute hop down to Portland. Can you imagine?!?!?!? Pure luxury. Unfortunately, the price is currently out of our range (almost $3k per ticket). (And you people who live in foreign countries with a direct flight to wherever you travel for the summer, I hate you. It must feel so great to just get off one plane and be there. Sigh.)



However, we are definitely willing to pay a certain premium for a one-stop flight. You can get 2-stop flights from Dubai to Portland for pocket change - $1500, $1600. However, those 2-stop flights go through a European city and then a US East Coast city (=TRAVEL HELL). We've decided that's a deal breaker, especially when there are 1-stop flights available for just a little more money (usually through DC or Atlanta). Think of it this way: after flying from Dubai to London, and then from London to Atlanta, how much would you pay at that moment to just BE IN PORTLAND ALREADY? Well, that's about what the price difference is between the 2-stops and certain 1-stops.

If I've lost you already, then let's move back into general territory with a few things I do not understand about buying plane tickets, aka, why I hate this process.

1. Why does it have to be such a gamble, buying plane tickets? I get that operating costs fluctuate, but it is so stressful to juggle your schedule with the different fares and the different airlines, all considering that the price could go up, or it could go down, or seats could sell out, at any moment.

2. Why do three-leg flights cost more than two-leg ones? How does more flying cost less than less flying?

3. Why are American-run airlines not as nice as the airlines run by some other countries I could name, like Britain, the UAE, France, Germany, Qatar, the Netherlands, Japan, and Austria? I swear the US-operated international flights hand you a piece of bread and a cheese stick with a "good luck trying to see the tiny communal movie screen five rows up for the next 15 hours!" Other airlines have stuff like heated moist towels before mealtimes consisting of actual food, and personal movie screens.

In conclusion, we'll probably be buying tickets in the next 24 hours, after a final consultation with our families in the US. Wish us luck!

14 comments:

Kathy Haynie said...

Oh, I do wish you luck! Just buying a ticket w/in the US to visit my kids wears me out. Maybe with the time you save by only flying 2 legs instead of 3, you can fit in a lovely hike in the NW woods.

Glenda The Good said...

Good luck!!!!!

AmandaStretch said...

Good luck! If you do happen to fly through DC and have a long enough layover to justify getting out of the airport and/or need some kid free time - just give me a shout!

Liz Johnson said...

Uggghhhh I'm sorry. I hate buying plane tickets... although hopefully flying with Miriam & Majd is much easier this time with them being older. If you feel like you need to stop in Chicago for a few days to take a breather, let me know. :)

Sarah Familia said...

Good luck!!! I feel your pain. You're totally welcome in Orlando too, if you want to stop off and spend a few days at Disneyworld.

Bridget said...

The tickets are purchased! Right before I was about to click Purchase on a lame-o Delta flight for too much money, Jeremy noticed a United flight and that got me checking again and I saw an EMIRATES flight for (relatively) dirt cheap - cheaper than the Delta one. So we snatched it up! I still can't believe it. The price of that flight was over $3k last week. Today we got it for much, much less. SO EXCITED. Thanks for the well wishes.

Jennifer said...

Woohoo! Great news Bridget!

Shari said...

Good luck with your flight and with your travel plans! How fun!

We are somewhat lucky because we have a straight flight from Moscow to Houston, where my brother lives. Our plan, someday (maybe), is to visit with him for a while, then take a flight to Utah to visit the rest of the family. However, the part we're not so lucky with is that Jon's job does not pay to let us take vacations. Nope. It would have to all come out of our own pockets, and with four kids, we'll never afford it. I haven't seen my Dad for two years, and I'm worried that I won't get to see him for three more. I'm a little annoyed about that.

Matthew said...

I feel your pain sister! Happens to us all the time. Over the many years, this is what I have learned:

@#1 Byzantine pricing structures dis-empower the customer from making optimal decisions - advantage airlines (Scott Adams calls this a confusopoly).

@#2 the 3 leg trips cost less because no one wants them. Less demand drives the lower price (even though you are consuming more resources (gives you a better dollar per barrel of jet fuel ratio, but a much worse dollar per crying kid ratio)).

@#3 Because those carriers are often operating in more regulated markets where they are not competing on cost (as directly) but rather on perks and service. NPR did a great program on this (I believe it was Planet Money).

Bridget said...

Oh Shari, if I "hate" people with direct flights, then you must "hate" people with paid-for tickets. :( Obviously we enjoy living overseas but sometimes it's hard to sit down and think about how long it's been since you've seen everyone. We're looking forward to meeting four nieces and nephews for the first time when we visit.

Bridget said...

Oooh, I will be looking up that podcast. Another question I have is why it costs so dang much more money to spend a few days in a place, and then continue with your ticket. We thought about spending a few days in DC on the way to the US but not for how much the airline wanted to charge us for the privilege...

Susanne said...

I've only traveled internationally twice so I can't really compare airlines like you can, but we took Delta to Germany three weeks ago, and they had individual TVs for every passenger PLUS we got 2 meals plus snacks each way.

I'm sure it's still "lame-o" compared to what other countries offer, but just thought I'd mention it in case you are ever forced to fly Delta.

Susanne said...

Oh, I should say the airline food isn't wonderful, but I didn't really like Turkish Airlines' food either. It's OK, but not home cooking.

Kristen said...

I really hope I will get to see you while you are here!

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