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Convenience vs Cost – Calling for creative travel advice!!

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I’m convinced there are far greater experts out there who can extract both value and convenience when planning international flights. As I plan my next trip back from Mumbai to Jakarta, would love to tap into the collective world wide WordPress wisdom for travel advice…

Where I was supposed to be today...

Where I want to book today…

So here is my criteria:

  • Avoid crappy cramped overnight flights. Appreciate overnight for long haul flights can’t be avoided but these 4 – 5 hour overnight flights are killers!
  • Stick with ‘preferred airline’ with access to business lounges, internet, khanna/pina (food/drink) as have ‘gold’ status (for now!)
  • As direct as possible so avoid spending extra day(s) in airports – yes the romance of exploring airports for hours long ago vanished!
  • Economy fare because, well, the client is covering the cost and for them – the cheaper the better! And we all like happy clients. 🙂

Seems pretty simple, right? As I’m not a complete novice found:

  • Morning (aka 7:55am) flight via Bangkok instead of Singapore
  • On my preferred airline
  • With decent connections
  • And available at economy airfare

That’s great, right? I’m a star, right? Um… wrong… Else why am I bothering to write this post?

“So what’s the problem then?” you say…

Because I got a little creative finding things separately but am not able to put them together.

“Huh?” you say…

Let me see if I can explain in a way that makes some sense:

  • The ‘preferred airline’ is Jet Airlines… and its ‘preferred’ in quotes as they aren’t what they were once… The days when I’d get “bumped up” to business class regularly or could upgrade with vouchers are gone. However with these 2 flights on Jet, should retain “gold” status which brings a few conveniences. If I use another airline, will say ‘bye bye’ to “gold” from next month with little likelihood of gaining it back any time soon.
  • Online searches for Mumbai-Jakarta return with Jet only get routed via Singapore (overnight) not Bangkok. Is there a “Singapore only” online conspiracy I’m missing?
  • Efforts to call various online travel services to put together the combined ticket what I can find separately is.. um.. not so easy. I’m 4 hours into this process so far with two companies and no results.

“Say what?? I still don’t get it?!” you reply

Challenge for this trip is one sector Jakarta to Bangkok:

  • The most convenient flight is Garuda Indonesia which has just the right time to transit in Bangkok to Jet. But…. on my preferred date it is very expensive… as in business class expensive!

“So there must be other options” you say… “Don’t be such a stickler! Be a little flexible.”

Sure! And here is where I got particularly creative…

  • Searched for any airline that reaches Bangkok in time to catch the flight back to Mumbai on the preferred date – found a few and confirmed available at cheaper economy fares (as single one-way fares)
  • Return a day later or… worst case… the day earlier. Again found this separate from the Jet ticket – available at economy single one-way fares

“That should work, right?”

Why yes it should! Except for some reason it doesn’t… putting each separate part together isn’t adding up. And I’ve learnt that buying totally separate tickets traveling internationally when expecting to connect just isn’t a smart thing to do!

If I shared all the hilarious conversations I’ve been having trying to work with travel call centres, you would be in stitches and I in the loony bin! I feel like I’m explaining to a recalcitrant child basic logic that while yes, I appreciate an option, the suggested Jakarta-Bangkok flight arrives 3 hours after the Bangkok-Mumbai flight departs?!

“So what now?”

It is now a race between call backs from the companies I’ve spoken with and my dear blogging community!

After all, I’ve had time to share my plight while on hold, surely your collective wisdom can up with something! Else I’ll shortly cave on either the preferred airline or overnight flight. Done both many times before and no doubt will again…

Pssst… your best travel tips are welcome anytime so even if you are reading this after my flights are booked, advice still appreciated!

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7 Comments

  1. Expat Eye says:

    I think you should share the hilarious conversations!

    • I chose to consider them hilarious… cus that was the only way I didn’t go stark raving mad!

      Most were just increasingly absurd ways of blithely ignoring the basic criteria. Such as:

      “Madam I’ve found this great route for you! It’s only Rupees 35,000!”

      Um… tell me more…

      “You leave Mumbai at 11:30pm and then take from Singapore to -”

      May I interrupt?

      “But I haven’t finished, then you take -”

      Do you remember when we started this call the flight was it I said I didn’t want?

      “Uh… what was it madam?”

      Flight 9W 12

      “Uh…”

      Which flight did you just suggest?

      “Uh… flight 9W 12”

      So then?!

      It was variations on this theme of which the most remarkable one about 4 hours into the exercise with a call back all proud that they’d “solved” my problem, she’d involved her “supervisor” and his “senior”… to then recommend a ridiculous flight combination that was set up to either totally miss the “connecting” flight by a couple hours or add an extra day in Bangkok to continue the journey the next day?!

  2. pollyheath says:

    Ah, the joys of arranging international flights. Best of luck. I have no great wisdom to impart. I use kayak.com and hope for the best, usually!

  3. I’ve been using Indian based sites as can then easily pay in rupees with my Indian credit card… needless to say there are some pretty significant disadvantages to that! 🙂

    Thanks for the luck tho – think I need a heavy dose of it as I’m about to embark on booking the Nov and Dec flights now!

  4. Margo says:

    Belated reply: Stay over with me in Bangkok next time. I’ll have a nice bottle of Marlborough Pinot Noir at the ready and a single-malt to take the edge off life.
    Ok, so it may seem it won’t work on every route you fancy from Mumbai, but make here (ie, my place) your hub and it will seem that it does 🙂

    • Ahh… what an invite! I like! And am ever so delighted to know there hasn’t been a repeat flare up of that awful wine allergy. Maybe it was just the plonk served in Mumbai??

      Alas the project and travel plans have taken a decided detour. Will write soon with all the gory details!

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