Thursday, December 17, 2009

In which I buy a flight.

Disclaimer: This post is for my own sanity. I'm sure most readers already know what is written here (except for the websites in Do not's #1&4). Thank you for letting me vent.
I believe that I made every classic mistake when buying my flight for Dakar. Luckily, it's now behind me and the flight is booked. I decided to describe the purchase in a list of do not's.
  1. Do not watch your lovely price disappear overnight and frantically buy a flight the next day. With international flights, prices rarely go down over time, only up. My experience tells me they don't go up every day, only every week or two. So buy early. And use a service like Farecast or Airfare Watchdog.
  2. Do not use an unorthodox travel company or website without a personal recommendation or a thorough investigation of their business online.
  3. Do not expect to be able to change your flight without a fee. The only company I've used that does this cheaply is STA Travel. They only charge $25 dollars to change a flight. Other suggestions welcome.
  4. Do not use Apparently, after further research, it's a bait and switch company run by Russians in California. Don't let the accents distract you from the poor customer service and "you don't know what you're talking about" attitude. I say this despite successfully booking a flight through them. From now on I'm going to rely on airline websites, Travelocity, (love the gnome) and Vayama to purchase int'l flights. Their prices are just as cheap as any out there.
  5. Do not not check with the airline you're flying for a confirmation of your flight, even if they say that you should only work through the agency that bought your flight. I waited 3 weeks for my flight to appear online and finally called today and found out I had a invalid confirmation code.
I really hate flying. I hate the whole process- watching prices, buying, dragging heavy suitcases around, paying to bring your heavy suitcases with you, going through security, expensive food in the terminal, waiting in line, no leg room, being cold, awful food, swelling feet, damaging your eardrums to watch a movie, etc. You can tell I don't like it. It just seems like you spend so much money to get treated like a fool.

To help you erase that depressing list from your mind and avoid in flight annoyances, here's a short list of do's for flying. Common knowledge for anyone who has flown much, I think.
  1. Do bring socks. Nice warm socks.
  2. Do drink water and get up and go to the bathroom on long flights. It makes you feel soo much better in and after the flight.
  3. Do bring a travel pillow and blanket with you- some airlines aren't giving them out because of H1N1, supposedly.
  4. Do bring your own snacks.
  5. Do pack smart- keep everything you need for security out, wear easily removable shoes.

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