The Balancing Act of Buying Airline Tickets

Duration vs. Price vs. Number of Stops

And if there is a long layover (13 hours or more), hotel costs have to factor into the overall price. And don’t forget how to get to the hotel when all of the travellers are already feeling bedraggled, having risen at 5 am to get to the airport. The adrenaline rush associated with travel has long since worn off, probably at the precise moment the airline ‘meal’ arrived at your fold-down table. Yes I know, creating edible food for the masses is extremely difficult. Still. Ick.  But we are always hungry by that point (and don’t know what the next meal will contain or when it will be available) and so we always eat what we are served.

Add to this the general confusion at the in-between airport, where we need to find the next gate, and get through security for that gate (take off shoes, put all belongings onto a conveyor belt to be x-rayed, submit our passports and possibly dignity if we need a personal pat-down by security). It’s no small process. At the airport in Frankfurt we were very worried about making our connecting flight, AND we were each patted down. I had a female pat-ter, but I still didn’t appreciate having my genitals touched a few times during that process. I was wearing yoga pants, so I’m not sure what they thought I could have concealed there.

At this point, I’m looking at long layovers on our way to our destination because non-stop flights are way too expensive. This situation leads me to explore what airport lounges might be available at our in-between airports. This is not to say we qualify, but sometimes you can purchase a day pass. I was excited when google turned up this gem. But one can expect only so much from an airport lounge. There are comforts available there such as refreshments, wifi, and nice chairs (which probably recline and don’t have armrests that restrict leaning over to one side), but there is definitely NO SLEEPING allowed in any of them. This means we would need a hotel nearby to rest for about 10 hours. This means we would have to take our carry-ons on quite a journey (reminds me of The Mission) through the huge airport (because they are all huge, being hubs and all), into a taxi, and to a hotel to check in. However, I suppose we aren’t adding any security clearances to our trip, as we would have to go through security even if we stay at the airport.

It’s pretty frightening to me when I read articles saying how insecure our airports are, considering all of the scrutiny all travelers endure.

I draw the line at 2 stops per direction. Or I try to. If the connections have good spacing (~2 hours seems to be good), and the ticket price reflects this inconvenience, I can sell it to husband and the troops. If there is a single layover for a very long (more than 10 hours and some daytime hours included), maybe the city is interesting enough to squeeze in a meal or museum in between flights. The worst layover seems to be 5 hours. That time is not enough to leave the airport, and is too long to be happy about hanging around a building in which all the diversions (stores or food) are barely passable and oh-my-god expensive.

Before I book airline tickets I look at dozens of web sites and perform hundreds of searches for nearby airports on various dates to see what our best options are. Basically I’m what a travel agent used to be before the great unwashed (including me) each got personal computers and discovered travel web sites.

I have read lots of articles on how to get the best prices – travel on a Tuesday or Wednesday, accept long layovers, watch carefully for sales, adjust your travel dates, etc. etc. Recently I read an Ask Me Anything on Reddit from a travel agent who says clearing one’s cookies before performing a search (or search while in Incognito Mode) is not necessary; the fluctuations in prices are due to there being hundreds of thousands of people searching at the same time you are, and some of those people booking tickets or cancelling them.

The search continues…

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