When Buying A Plane Ticket is Like Navigating the American Healthcare System

Is it just me or do Airlines these days seem like they suddenly sprung jealousy of the confusion health care plans bring on Americans and they wanted to be a part of that game – laughing at us from the other side at algorithms/fees/usage clauses and no one even knows what’s happening but we just sloth–ily punch in our credit card numbers because–well those with wanderlust need our “medicine” too. I just bought multi segment air tickets (aka flying in to one city and out of a completely different one) and DAYUM BOI was that a game! Countless hours across multiple days spent (sounds like I was embarking on a Fortnight journey here – or at least I looked like I was as I’m hunched over my MacBook as if I’ll never look up again). Four adults and an infant as travelers and every airline site that even google can offer has a completely different price. And not to mention – a completely different price when I enter the whole party of five vs. splitting it up into multiple reservations. The party of five was coming in astronomically higher than two adult tickets. I trolled all of the sites I was willing to buy on – which by the way are never places like Orbitz, Expedia, and the like. I am an American frequent flyer, but the price for these tickets did not even matter if I earned my miles or not for them because it was at get the hell out price levels. Also, on American’s site, the flight was showing for more money in Basic Economy than Premium Economy, and the flight DOESN’T EVEN OFFER basic Economy. *MacBook completely ignites here*. Mind you that the prices were obviously ranging from anywhere from $1100 to $1600 depending on the day let alone combination of tickets. A really epic plot twist is that American and British airways CODESHARE* for the flights I was trolling morning, noon, & nighteyeing up and it turns out that booking with British Airways directly came in $600 lower per person. I had to break it up into two adults on one reservation and two adults and a child on the other. Alas, I got what I wanted and at a price I was OK paying – $1094 per adult and we get to check a bag and I picked our seats.

Picture of Washing Machine at Meow Wolf Sante Fe
This washing machine at Meow Wolf in Sante Fe looked just like a washing machine until you opened the door.

At this point, I’m guessing some of you have some (LEGIT) questions you might be wondering..

Why aren’t you finding airfare easily if you’re a Travel Agent?

Well this is a special snowflake of a scenario. Typically, airfare can be part of your vacation package (nothing hidden or weird here). But in this tale, we will be embarking on a cruise in which we want to depart on a flight that is outside of the providers parameters by five minutes. Yes, five minutes. What does this mean? This means that Royal Caribbean (in this case) can only provide me with flights that depart for home after 11:30 am. The flight that I want departs at 11:25 am. Not kidding – five minutes. A rule is a rule here. I was left to take this on myself. This is why booking your vacation through a Travel Agent is a gift. You save yourself hours and I figure out the best option for you. I would like to note that this kind of service is provided only when booking the vacation through me. If you were to book a Royal Caribbean cruise directly through them (or worse, some third party online booking engine) they receive the already-built-into-the-price-commission for your trip. Then, if you ask me to help you with the flight complexity, I’ve made nothing here for my time. On the flip side, if you book a cruise (all-inclusive/Disney vacation/etc.) with me, it is the same price as you would have found yourself (or better!). Tack on the little nitty gritty detail that I have access to the best promotion combos and the best selection of staterooms, and then I’m more than happy to help you with these crazy scenarios. Consider us BFFs.

Why don’t you use sites like Orbitz or Expedia?

Travel Agents/Advisors have “back door” access to a multitude of ways to book that ordinary consumers do not. These kinds of sites are not them. Also, prior to becoming a TA, I have used these types of places and found that if/when you run into an issue you must call the customer service line (i.e. Orbitz) instead of the airline/hotel/etc. directly. Also, while these third-party websites seem like they are cheaper – you must take the transaction all the way to the cart to see the total cost. And double check the class of service, whether you’ll still need to pay to check a bag, secure a seat, and so on.

How much is an infant?

Internationally, lap infants pay taxes on the cost of the seat sold. So, depending on the price paid for the adult seat, this amount differs. Usually this is ~10% of the cabin fare price plus taxes and fees.

What is Basic Economy & Premium Economy?

Airlines have split out the entire economy section into a basic and premium economy now where “Basic” is typically a lot less monetary wise, but with the least amount of leg room, no selection of seat in advance, and sometimes the last group to board. Premium gets you more leg room, a seat selection, and some other things like same day changes allowed. Be sure that you know what you booked. Bottom line is that you always get what you pay for.

What’s a Codeshare?

From an ABC News Article (that now is a broken link/no longer available), here is a summary below:

In its simplest form, codesharing works like this: You buy a ticket on American Airlines for a flight operated by Alaska Airlines along a route American otherwise does not serve. Both airlines are superlative major carriers (like most, if not all the carriers large and small in America today), so safety is not a concern. But what’s terribly confusing is just exactly who’s going to be providing that sumptuous meal of in-flight peanuts: American or Alaska?

Well, in the world of codeshare agreements, it’s American’s ticket, American collected your money, and American has an American Airlines flight number for you, but in reality it’s an Alaska Airlines flight operated by Alaska’s pilots and flight attendants over Alaska’s route system.

Up there on the departures board you’ll find your American Airlines flight number listed. But in a separate listing on the same board, there’s an Alaska Airlines flight number going to the same place. Only when you stare hard and realize they’re both going to be pushing back from the same gate at the same time does it begin to become clear that it is, in fact, the same flight — in this case, using a big white airplane with a large trademark Eskimo (actually an Athabaskan Native American) up there on the tail, smiling at you from under his parka.

There you have it. You now know that we can be travel colaborator BFFs with my services and also that my brain has just about exploded into a million pieces of glitter (wonder what color it would have been?) and I am now the cover photo for this post – an actual representation of me after I clicked purchase on our tickets. Looks like I’ll have a lot of room now for all of the delectable food I will be destroying on board the ship.

XOXO Britt

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