I’m not really a gambling kinda guy, but I found out a few things today that helped turn me into one:
- The refundable-type airline tickets cost more than twice as much as the non-refundable ones
- Cancelling/changing dates on a non-refundable ticket costs US$100. You’ll get credit later with the respective carriers (though I’m not sure what happens when you cancel a flight involving multiple carriers. Multiple credits?)
I checked Expedia.com, Orbitz.com, and Travelocity.com for a return flight prices on a ticket from Tampa to Vancouver from Dec 20th to Jan 3rd. Travelocity said nothing was available during those dates. Expedia found tickets; the cheapest was $806. Orbitz’s was $560 (!).
I decided to book the ticket through Orbitz, even though I’d never used their services before. “Error 101. Selected flight not available. Please select another from the list.” And so I clicked the next one down, a $605 flight. “Error 101. Selected flight not available. Please select another from the list”. So I chose the next one down, for $630. Same thing. Hmmm. The next 10 flights down all gave me the same error. I ended up finding one that was available at the $790 mark, but the return portion of the trip was leaving Vancouver at 9:30am. That would be an awfully tight connection if I was taking the ferry over.
So, still on Orbitz.com, I decided to change my destination from Vancouver to Victoria to avoid the ferry hassle. In the result list lay a ticket for $832. “I’ll take it!”. I didn’t bother checking Expedia, and with Travelocity, if they had nothing from Tampa to Vancouver, I can’t see how they’d have anything for this flight. I went to purchase the ticket and BAM! “We need to charge you another $20 for FedEx to courier your ticket to you, this is a paper-only ticket”. Oh man, come on guys, get with the 80’s! Electronic tickets are where it’s at!
Grand total after everything was said and done? $857.37. Oops, not quite everything; I’ve got to factor in $84 for long term parking at the Tampa airport (it’s still cheaper than flying directly out of Sarasota). That’s $941 something. Plus airport improvement fees of $5 each way, I think.
So now I’ve got a ticket. Too bad I still don’t know if the company is going to be closed between Christmas and New Years. It’s a $100 gamble, yeah, but a gamble I think’s gonna pay off.