Airlines are Stupid

Since ATA filed for bankruptcy today [more], I figured this was a timely post.

Yesterday, I booked an appointment with a client in Moline, Iowa. I did so yesterday because the airplane tickets were anywhere from $600 – $700 to a direct flight to and from Austin to Chicago, and I can drive to Moline easily. I booked the appointment yesterday and didn’t think about booking the plane tickets until today when I confirmed the appointment (who buys refundable tickets today anyways).

Well, this morning I logged onto AA.com and low and behold, the tickets were $1,200… more than double what they were yeterday. So, I logged onto Orbitz: same thing. Expedia: same thing. United.com didn’t have any better prices and Southwest Airlines doesn’t get to Chicago early enough for my appointment. Rather than check all of the other airline’s websites I called my friendly local travel agent.

The travel agent took the time to listen to what I needed, understood I was willing to spend up to around $700 for the tickets if she could get that for me, and understood when I needed to get there and when I wanted to get home.

She called me back in 30 minutes with a few options in the $700 range, and we finally booked an itinerary that’ll work. Now here’s where the “Airlines are Stupid” part comes in:

Preface: Realize that the airfare-only part is now ‘valued’ at $1,200 from the airlines at this point (according to their websites).

So, my itinerary now looks like this:

1. Last Minute Travel Deal: Austin to Chicago
   a. Departing Austin on 10/28 at 6:00, arriving in Chicago at 8:30 (when I need to be there).
   b. Departing Chicago on 10/31 at who cares what time…
   c. Includes a rental car (that I won’t be using)
   d. Price: $350 or so

2. ATA flight from Chicago to DFW (no ATA’s bankruptcy filing doesn’t scare me for a flight I’m taking in a couple of days)
   a. One way ticket on the day I need to fly back, when I need to fly back
   b. Price: $150 or so

3. Southwest flight from Love Field to Austin
   a. One way ticket on 10/29 back home at 7:00 in the morning… won’t miss any work
   b. Price: $150 or so.

So, by not using over half of this stupid last minute deal (see item #1 above) I can get the early direct flight that I need from Austin to Chicago, and then combine it with an over-night layover in Dallas (which works because I have family there that I’d love to see) and I’m happy paying $700 for the trip. Now, realize that they have to pay the rental car company for that rental car I’m getting in 1.c. above. This is why the airlines are stupid. I was happy to give them $600 or $700 all for them, but no, by making the price of the trip $1200, they forced me to find a way around their pricing.

And I did.

And in the process, they lost money.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll point out that if I could guarantee I could make it back to the airport in Chicago by 5:00 or so, I could have flown home direct on Thursday, instead of spending the night in Dallas, but since I have family there, and I’d rather spend the night there than miss the flight out of Chicago, I’m more than happy to make that accomodation.

Airlines are stupid.

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