Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I May Actually Need a Travel Agent

I haven't used a travel agent ... well, no, I take that back -- I briefly used one unsuccessfully ... but, basically, I haven't used a travel agent since the internet made it possible to become one's own travel agent.  Find and book my own damn flights, hotels, adventures ... that's the way I like it.

(Man, I really have to get the photos up from last year's trip.)

This year's trip is just starting to come together.  I've obtained some vague ideas of dates, so I started checking flights.

It isn't going entirely well.

The plan, more or less, is:

LAX to Dublin (stay for about a week)
Dublin to London (stay for about another week)
London to LAX


Not so much.

My first line of attack is American Airlines.  They are always my first line of attack, as that's where I collect my miles.

The American Airlines website wants upwards of $2000 for this itinerary.  This strikes me as odd.  So does the fact that they plan that middle flight -- the Dublin to London one -- as Dublin to Madrid, and Madrid to London.

Think that through for a second.  Here's a map of Western Europe, if you need it.

Further research indicated that American wanted something in the $1000 neighborhood for the trans-atlantic flights, and a quick look at Orbitz said I could do Dublin to Heathrow for, like, $60.

(Interestingly, American could not discover the $60 Dublin to Heathrow flight, even when I asked it to "search all airlines.")

Of course, what I'd really like is to be able to use miles and fly Business Class.  That's 50,000 miles each way.  

Except it isn't available for any of the dates I want.  But if I move my departure three days this way and my return two days the other way and ... yeah, that'll be 100,000 miles.  Or I could stick with the dates I actually want and it would be 200,000 miles.  (And if you're used to using miles on American, you'll know that is all kinds of insane.)

OK, Business Class on miles is out.  Back to Economy for money.  Of course, if I'm going to pay for it, I'm not limited to American.  I should check all airlines.

I check all airlines.  Orbitz can put this whole thing together for about $1000.

And then there's that little voice in my head that reminds of the concept of "Premium Economy" -- that class somewhere between coach and business, offered by some (but not all) airlines.

I find Premium Economy on British Air and Virgin Atlantic.  Both of these work much better if you just fly them round trip to London, and book your own cheapy London to Dublin round trip.  Not a problem.  I just have to create my own connection at Heathrow.  I'll likely have to leave time to clear customs, just in case, but it's do-able.

Then I come home.  I get my mail.  I find a "Save the Date" card for my cousin's kid's Bat-Mitzvah.  In Florida.  On, more or less, the day I'm planning to come back.

I run it through Orbitz, just for kicks ...
LAX to Dublin to London to Fort Lauderdale to LAX.  It prices it -- economy class straight through -- for $1400.

But...  most of those route the London to Lauderdale part through New York, and if I'm going New York to Lauderdale, I like a cheap flight on JetBlue... which isn't on Orbitz.  And I'm still interested in premium economy for the long hauls, but Orbitz doesn't list those.

And I have this awful feeling that what I'm ultimately going to end up ticketing is a New York to London round trip in premium economy (on one airline) and attach to that a round trip London to Dublin (a second airline), a one-way New York to Lauderdale (JetBlue, our third airline), and, if I'm really lucky, a bizarre open-leg round trip LA to New York; Lauderdale to LA thing from a fourth airline, which won't ask too many questions.

Something tells me that checking my bags straight through is going to be totally impossible.


Wil said...

Just for grins and giggles, I went straight to the Aer Lingus site and requested a RT from LAX to Dublin with return 10 days later. If I leave on a Saturday, the ticket price, less taxes and landing fees and baggage fees, etc. is USD $1378. RT Dublin to Gatwick in the middle of that period would be $90 Euros. I'd skip the Bat Mitzvah, myself. South Beach is so freaking hot and muggy in summer, don'tcha know.

Wil said...

By the way, that was Premium Business class across the pond and economy for the flight to London.

nzforme said...

Funny you should say that, Wil -- while I was in the shower this morning, I thought, "Damn, forgot to check Aer Lingus."

Of course, the taxes and fees are sometimes killer -- it varies from airline to airline -- I saw one RT that was $541 "plus taxes and fees" and came out to just this side of $900 when you added them in.

And I can't skip the Bat Mitzvah -- that's what makes it a CHALLENGE.

peg said...

If you're doing the LAX-London leg, try Air NZ. We had great service, even in economy.

Wil said...

Of course, your trip plans may be moot if this little problem doesn't go away...

(apologies for the Fox News link -- I was directed to that story there by another's blog.)