Today I’ve been searching online sites to try and find a good deal for my upcoming trip to Atlanta. For the most part I find domestic flights easier to book than international flights. But they all have their own challenges and I generally have more experience booking international tickets. I was contemplating writing about “How to” get the best deal but I realized that it would be silly because I don’t know really “How to” do that. Instead I just have a system which seems to work for me. Maybe I don’t get the cheapest flights all the time but I tend to generally get reasonable deals and that makes me happy enough.
So here’s another aspect of my search. I do pray over the airplane tickets that I buy. This may not be a typical starting place for some people but I feel like I need to give decisions like these to God. Partially because it’s built into my job and partially because it is his money anyway. Yes, I also have an obligation to my financial supporters but even if I didn’t, the money I use would still be God’s.
With that said, I always begin the internet part of my search with multiple searches on multiple travel booking sites. I still haven’t found one that always shows better deals so I tend to look through them all or at least a good portion of them. I also put in different airports. Sometimes it isn’t an option but it doesn’t take that much more effort for me to get to and from San Francisco or LAX so if the deal is amazing enough to cover the gas then I could make that choice. And of course being flexible on the days you travel sometimes makes a $100 plus difference. I do generally prefer the travel sites (and the airline sites) that allow you to see the difference in flight costs by the day easily. If i’m traveling internationally, I generally contact travel agents and get them in on this part. I have a few different ones that I contact based on where I am traveling and the deals I know they have gotten me in the past or based on recommendations from friends.
Then I take what I learn from these searches and put them in myself to the airlines websites. Sometimes I am surprised because the ticket costs less from the airline directly. Sometimes the search site has a better fare. But always compare the total cost because both airlines and ticket sites can sometimes have hidden fees that don’t show up until you are actually being charged. If I get a quote from a travel agent then I also check to see if I can get a better price myself. However, if travel plans might change, booking through a travel agent is nice because you have someone to help you. Sometimes they can fix things with a small fee that would cost you an entirely new ticket. This is also true when you have close connecting flights.
After this step I weigh my options and include information like what time of day the flights are available, which airport, days of the week, non-stop or multiple stops and other factors that make a difference in both cost and convenience. For example, I shouldn’t book a flight out of LAX on a weekday morning since my ride has a job that wouldn’t allow him to take me to the airport on a weekday morning. And a cheaper flight with a layover in a snowy place during storm season could cause more headaches than the difference in ticket price. International travel should include thinking about visa issues in layover countries and careful calculation of time zones. Once again, a travel agent is super helpful if it is a trip you haven’t ever made before.
Once I find myself leaning towards one ticket, I check with my airport rides on either end and then I usually wait at least 12 hours before buying the ticket. I also pray over the decision again. And finally, I buy the ticket. Notice how many time I wrote sometimes or generally in the above paragraphs? For me airplane ticket buying is not an exact science. There is no formula that works %100 of the time. Sometimes your flights get messed up, sometimes it is your fault, sometimes it is the airlines but hopefully in the end you get to your destination.
Alright, enough talk. I’m going to book some tickets today!