Thursday, March 5, 2009

Vacation and Booking Flights

What a day! I woke up this morning and my desktop weather said it was already 48° outside. I wanted to sit outside and drink my morning coffee. It was so beautiful. Spring is here, or at least here for the next five days.

I bought plane tickets for our mini vacation in May. We really wanted to be able to take a trip this year but the budget is a little tight. We originally thought about Las Vegas again or Colorado, but we ended up scaling back and decided to visit some of Matt's family and friends in the Tampa area. By going to Florida we have a free place to sleep and a kitchen to cook our meals in. Two huge money savers. I do however plan on eating Dunkin Donuts every morning while we're there. I can't wait for my first official DD experience. Bonus that the house also has a pool and is in walking distance to the beach.

I was a little surprised by the price of plane tickets. Everyone has been saying they're going up, but I was able to book us two round trips on American for $378 after all the wacko taxes. I've never flown on American before, but I already like them. I must have signed up for their emails at some point because I got one with a coupon code for 10% off airfare. It knocked off about $33 before taxes and ended up being the cheapest flight I could find. I'm going to keep an eye on flight prices and make sure they don't get any cheaper than that. If they do, I'm hoping they have a policy like Southwest where they will issue a credit for the price difference. It never hurts to ask! I don't think the credit policy is even listed on Southwest's site. I had to call and ask about it.

I'm also going to try to get out of the luggage fees. American charges $15 per bag, each way. Since we're taking a short trip and it's summer (summer = lighter packing) we might be able to get away with just carry on luggage. I once took a five day trip to San Diego with nothing more than a carry on bag and a large purse. It was a proud moment for me. Always remember to check luggage fees before booking. Some airlines are outrageous.

So, in short, three things I always do when booking through an airline:

1. Sign up for airline emails at least a month before I plan to purchase my ticket and keep an eye on discounts.

2. Watch ticket prices after I buy and call the airline if I see my same flight offered for a cheaper price. (If it isn't the exact same flight, they might charge a flight transfer fee which may or may not negate the price of the credit, depending on how much the price went down.)

3. Check luggage policies before booking. Sometimes the savings in ticket prices doesn't make up for the price of having to check luggage.

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