Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Done Deal

I just got our plane tickets to China, so we’re definitely doing this.

Here’s an interesting thing I noticed while shopping: I found that on the days I wanted to travel, I had a choice of two non-stop flights. One was on United, and the other on Air China. Two round-trip tickets on the United flight cost about $150 more than they would on Air China--strange, since they seemed like very similar itineraries.

When I looked more closely at the flight times, I realized that they were exactly the same. And the flight numbers were suspiciously similar. The outbound leg was United flight 857, for example; the Air China outbound flight was #8857. Finally I found a notation that explained that the Air China flight was operated by United. Tickets on the same plane were being sold at different prices, depending on how you wanted your ticket branded.

As I was making the Air China purchase, I did discover that the extra money might buy more than just a brand name, though. Travelocity wasn’t able to issue an e-ticket for the Air China flights, so we’re getting the old-fashioned paper kind. That’s a little bit embarrassing, like wearing a Walkman in an iPod world, but I can live with it.

The only real downside--and I didn’t realize this until I’d completed my purchase--is that they won’t assign us seats until we check in on the day of our flight. So I’m afraid we’ll get to the airport and find that all the United passengers have reserved the best seats.

But, having missed the last flight we tried to take, we’ve resolved to get to the airport as early as possible this time--days early, if necessary. So we’ll at least get the best of the worst.

And even if I do end up in a middle seat, I’ll be smug in the knowledge that that guy on the aisle next to me paid dearly for his legroom.

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