Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Joys of Full Fare Coach

Every time I've ever had to buy a plane ticket, I've scrambled voraciously for the lowest possible price. You've likely done the same. The onerous rules, restrictions, and penalties that come with supersaver fares have become, over time, a perfectly normal and expected part of traveling.

I need to travel internationally next month, and, per normal, spent hours yesterday trying different dates and airports, ferreting out fare sales and deals, and craftily weeding out red-eyes, 7 hour layovers, and all the other budget travel landmines. The problem this time is that I'm not sure how long I'll need to stay in my destination, and furious research has failed to find supersaver tickets that come without $150 change fees (plus any fare difference, and there usually is). Also, I may want to make a stop en route, but these fares prohibit stopovers.

So I did the unthinkable. I visited terra incognita, the strange and heady world of full fare coach
. And I was stunned by what I found.

For an extra $300, I can get a fully-refundable ticket that will allow me to return any time, on any flight I'd like, without penalty. For that matter, it will let me change my departure flight without penalty! I can stop en route to my heart's content. I can take any flight, including in broad daylight. And there are seats available even on flights that were long-ago sold out on supersaver fares. And they'll upgrade me to biz class for free, if there's room. Best of all, I don't have to purchase a ticket to lock in my seats...they will
reserve the flights for me.

"Reserve the flights." It sounds like crazy talk! We
reserve a colonoscopy appointment; plane travel is simply bought. But, no, I've not laid out a dime, yet have an infinitely flexible departure and return flight
reserved for me to waltz into. All this for a bit more than the expense of a change penalty. It's all so utopian and relaxing, like waking up from a bad dream!

Wait a sec. Did I just say it costs
three hundred bucks more? Hmm...well, I can check again Tuesday and see if the web special fares have dropped...or forego luggage and get a courier gig....or drive to Philly and shave off another $80....or...


Dave said...

I think you lucked out. I was also exploring full fare coach domestic tickets because, I too, wasn't sure about return dates.

I must say that in this regard, Jet Blue has spoiled me. Every itinerary is one or more one-way trip. There is no discount for a round trip, and fares are keyed to, of all things, actual demand!

I wonder if the relatively inexpensive full fare price is more commer on international flights.

Pat said...

I'm a fan of Jet Blue's one-way fares too. I bought a one-way to Maine in August a few days before the rest of the family drives up. It was only $129 and I'll ride back in the car.

It's very rare for me not to know exactly when I plan to go somewhere and return, but I love the freedom it gives you, Jim! My problem is getting to the airport in the first place!

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