Airlines

Tempting Travel Fate to Save Money

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I booked a crazy itinerary to visit family for the holidays. And the funniest part was the next day I didn’t even remember what I had booked!

In November, I dithered for a week or two over booking flights for Christmas. I wouldn’t need the miles for any particular airline status, and flights on my preferred airlines were really really expensive. Like $600+ to Florida. On the other hand, what was the point in having the status if I wasn’t going to fly them…

I pushed it to the last minute, watching prices starting to creep up, and finally booked something 4 weeks before Christmas. It was way past my bed time when I finally pulled the trigger (no I was not drinking), and the next day I only had a vague recollection of what I had booked. And what I did remember, I remembered wrong.

When sent my family my itinerary a few days later, it wasn’t what I had expected. I’d booked a flight on JetBlue down there because it was the cheapest (and no baggage fees). Ok, I guess I somewhat remembered that. But what I really didn’t remember was the return flight. I thought I’d booked a direct flight from Jacksonville to DCA for the Monday morning. I got the day right.

2 connection itinerary

I’d actually booked a multi-leg itinerary to save money. Direct flights were running $800 that weekend, by adding two segments I chopped it down to $600. And not just two segments, two crazy segments if there was any bad weather. My layovers were around an hour each. Jacksonville to Charlotte. Charlotte to Raleigh Durham. Then not just changing airlines, but changing alliances, US Airways to American Airlines (which are in no way connected yet) for the final flight from Raleigh Durham to DCA.

Looked like I wouldn’t be checking a bag on the flight back, since the chances for mistakes and misconnects would be even greater.

Monday I showed up at the airport kicking myself for my desire to save money and holding out hope my flight would be oversold, they could then stick me on a direct flight later in the day and I’d be all set. Another reason not to check a bag.

During check in, I find out how lucky I was. The direct flight that morning had been cancelled, and people were scrambling to get on my flight and others. Maybe I did make a good choice!

We landed early in Charlotte, for once I wasn’t running for my connection. I even had time to grab a bite to eat in the US Airways Club lounge. The flight from Charlotte to Raleigh went smoothly, and again we got in early. This seemed too easy!

I even had the opportunity to confuse the Admiral Club agents in Raleigh when I showed up with my Platinum AMEX and boarding pass for the American Airlines flight printed on US Airways paper. She first thought I didn’t realize I had to be flying American Airlines, and then thought they’d already started printing AA flights on US Airways paper until I explained it was just a weird itinerary.

AA Boarding Pass on US Airways Paper

Incidentally, the Raleigh airport is very pretty and the American Airlines clubs one of the nicer I’ve seen (though I haven’t been to many). I’m just not used to having to pay for basic snacks beyond the apples and cookies they offer!

Admiral Club Lounge RDU

I showed up at the gate and couldn’t resist tweeting about my good luck, which folks pointed out would probably backfire. And sure enough, the flight was late arriving. We boarded, got on the runway and then went back. Apparently some of the passengers’ bags had just showed up on a truck and they didn’t want to leave them behind. (I was glad I was just doing carry on!)

That delayed us a few minutes longer, but eventually we took off. We arrived only 10 minutes late, but then sat for another 20 waiting on a gate. I couldn’t believe my good luck. Only 30 minutes late on an itinerary that had two tight connections during the holidays!! It turned out my desire to save $200 was well rewarded. Still, I’d be nervous about doing it again…

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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world. www.twitter.com/klatravel

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