Thursday, November 5, 2009

Flight Plans

To be honest, I don't know all that much about the business of flying. I've been on a plane only a handful of times, none of which ever required booking a ticket for myself. So for someone who intends on flying eight people to Hawaii, the learning curve is steep. But I'll ride that wave.

We'll start with a lessons-learned from my "experience" booking the flight to Oahu for our scouting trip next month. I'll put the process in bulleted form for simplified reading.

- Sak and I for sure, were going. Then I thought it might be nice to take my parents too, as sort of an early 25th anniversary present. Not content at that, my parents decided they wanted my siblings to come as well. So, six people flying to Hawaii, not so bad, eh?

-Well, my carrier of choice (Hawaiian) listed zero flights for the day after Christmas on their main website. Sold out? Sak told me no, but the flight would have to be bought through an online travel agency since it was semi-late in the game.

-Screaming over crazy prices ensued. Did it really cost over 800 dollars to fly during a holiday? Apparently.

-After searching around a bit, I found the online travel agency with the best price. Mistake #1: I picked a flight with several connections and different carriers. I call this a mistake not only because it's confusing, but we later had one of the "legs" cancel, only to screw up our arrival schedule by several hours. I realize this could happen even if you have a direct flight, but the more planes involved = higher probability of delays/cancellations.

-Mistake #2: I thought I could pay with debit. Six, $700 tickets adds up. Adds up further than my credit limit, actually. Although I had the cash ready and waiting in my debit account, apparently the online website did not accept anything but credit! Amazing.

-So I called my dad, and had him pay for the tickets, which I later reimbursed him for.

Overall, I don't feel confident about this upcoming flight whatsoever. I feel like the whole thing could be cancelled without warning. I definitely don't want to repeat this process for the wedding.

Now, here's the where the real fun starts.

For the wedding, I'll need three separate flight plans.

Plan #1: Sak and I

We'll be flying to Hawaii with my parents - but instead of returning, we'll be going to Japan for three weeks. We'll be flying "triangle trip", as Sak likes to call it. One-way to Hawaii, one-way to Japan, and another one-way back to the Bay area. Now, Saka-Dad has offered to pay for our flight to and from Japan, so we only need to worry about the one-way to Hawaii.

Plan #2: Immediate Family

My family will be flying over with us on the same day. Now here's the problem - they can't decide on what day to come back. Until I get this vital piece of information, it's a little hard to book a round trip flight for them. I was initially planning on buying all the tickets at the 330 day mark (which is the earliest you can book most airline flights), but this mark has come and gone. (and prices have gone up a good $200 dollars..)

Plan #3: My Grandmothers

One grandma has decided she will book her own transportation, which is perfectly fine with me, since I can easily just reimburse her. My other grandmother plans on flying out with my immediate family, but coming back after only a few days. Again, no firm dates on this one.

I signed up for email alerts on for all these flight possibilities. I watch the prices rise and fall, hoping to spot a trend. As far as I know, there isn't one. And prices rise more often than they fall.

I asked Sak for help, since he is the frequent-flier in the house.

"I don't know. I just use my miles."

Helpful indeed.

Anyway, at this point I'm thinking of just booking flights for Sak and I separately. Maybe I'll put my parents on the "I'll reimburse you" plan as well.

For something that I was supposed to take care of to make life easier for everyone, it certainly isn't easier.

Anyone else dealing with the nightmare of flight booking? When IS the best time to buy?

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