So, um, I have a little problem.
I don’t have the kids for Thanksgiving this year, so a few months ago Otto and I talked about me heading down there to spend the holiday with him. But then we decided to be responsible adults or something, I don’t know, and upon realizing that 1) plane tickets are expensive and 2) he’d be back up here a few weeks after Thanksgiving, we decided I should probably skip it.
And I was okay with that. Before. But you know, I like him bunches, and as time passes I miiiiiiiiiiiss him. So I thought I’d look into getting down there.
Well! Lucky for me, there are still plane tickets! For the low, low price of a pound of flesh!
So I spent a few days checking the various ticket sites, and then I decided that desperate times called for desperate measures. And I went on that site… you know… the one that’s synonymous with… ummm… Costbar! Yes. Costbar.
First I asked it for a normal ticket, and it came up with a nice list of options for me, ranging in price from “a semester of tuition” to “buy your own plane.” That wasn’t too useful to me, so I clicked the “Name your own price” button and got ready to take my chances.
[Me: So, do you think this’ll work?
Otto: Dunno. Try it and see.
Me: What should I put in as an offer?
Otto: Up to you.
Me: You are… not all that helpful.]
Now, Costbar swears that you can save up to 40%. I figured I’d start off by offering, say, about 20% of the cost of a regular ticket.
[Me: There’s no way it’s going to take this.
Otto: Well, try it.
Me: I am. It wants my credit card information. Does that mean it’s actually going to give me a ticket?
Otto: No, I think they just have to take that so that you’re committed if they find you something.
Me: Hmph. Okay.]
I filled out all of the information it requested and got a blinky “Please hold while we purchase your ticket! Just a few more moments!” screen.
[Me: Holy crap. I think maybe it worked?
Me: It’s still thinking. It can’t possibly have worked. Could it?
Otto: I don’t know.
Me: It’s taking so long. Would it take that long if it wasn’t going to give me a ticket? What’s it DOING?
Otto: I don’t know.
Me: But. But. Oh, hey, the screen is changing!]
Oh, the screen changed alright. It changed to tell me HA HA HA, PUNY CHEAP HUMAN, NO TICKET FOR YOU.
And you know, I expected that. My offer was really low. That’s fine. What I didn’t expect was that, for one thing, it put me back at the starting screen again. If I wanted to make another offer, I had to enter all that information again.
But the kicker was how Costbar tried to reassure me that I was REALLY CLOSE to a viable offer.
[Me: Oh, this is PRICELESS.
Me: It says my offer was rejected, but get this: “If you raise your offer to [price removed due to obscenity and possible coronary-causing effects] Costbar can secure a ticket on your behalf.” That’s only $10 less than the published fare! Don’t do me any favors, Costbar! Sheesh.
Otto: Yeah, but, you save $10 AND the whole pesky choosing-when-to-fly thing. What a bargain.
So much for saving 40%. I may go check a few more times, as Thanksgiving gets closer, just to see if prices drop at all. But my hopes aren’t terribly high. Also I have decided not to trust any other Star Trek personalities who promise me savings. They clearly work on a different commerce system up there.
I admit “Costbar” is not great during high volume travel times…but it did get me and some friends a minivan (we travel in style) to take to our friend’s wedding for the low low price of $30/day (quotes from car agencies were ~ $80-100/day) and a couple nights at the Westin for $65/room (normal price $180). Not bad. My other offers have been summarily rejected though. Why must my friend get married in Vegas over Labor Day weekend…why?
Any airline fees are obscene. And I don’t think that the brokering sites are that much cheaper. I’ve never found any deal that bowled me over.
Our nearest major airport is 4 1/2 hours from our house. We have a dinky little airport 45 minutes away if you’re willing to pay an extra $500 each way. No wonder we drive everywhere!
I’ve had some good experiences with, uh, Costbar. The scary part is when you’re not QUITE sure you want to pay what you just put in (or even if you actually DO want that flight to L.A. after all) and then you have to sit there (and sit there and sit there and sit there) while it determines your future, pysching yourself up about how YES, you DO really want to go to L.A., you swear you do, you really do, oh dammit you’re just going to have to go now anyway, and —– OH THANK GOD, YOUR OFFER WAS TOO LOW.
That said, keep trying! You might get lucky. Have you also tried …..um, it rhymes with Potwire? Sometimes I can get good deals with them.
There is a very cost effective alternative. There’s no in-flight movie and the landings are sometimes sort of rough, but the cost is very reasonable. Are you ready for this? Roman catapults. Yes, they’re still around, though admittedly not as popular since airplanes were invented. Still, they’re environmentally friendly (no fossil fuels) and extremely simple to operate. Shall I sign you up? I have a vacancy. :-)
Hmmm … can I get a one-stop, less than three bounces catapult flight from Georgia to New England on, say, Tuesday afternoon? I have my own helmet, is there a discount for that?
Expedia for us. But, we don’t fly much, so I use it for hotel rooms.
(insert joke here about me needing hotel rooms)
All that said, is driving an option? I’m sorry if that’s an obscenity, but here in Texas we kinda take it for granted that if there’s a holiday coming up your going to wind up spending twelve hours in the car at some point.
I’m with Ben. Jet Blue just started flights from Houston to the Eastern Seaboard and everyone has been raving about the low fares. Well, that and Southwest.
People really do agree to drive 12 hours on holidays here in Texas. The scary part is, after driving 12 hours, you’re still in the same state *shudders*
De-lurking to suggest flying Thanksgiving day. Can be waaay cheaper!
David made my day! Catapults! Good luck with the flight, Mir.
the drive would be more on the order of 21 hours ONE WAY and as much as everyone in texas thinks that it has the largest [insert every noun known to man] including the state itself (just don’t tell that to the eskimos) I think that even grandma could make it from one side of texas to another in 21 hours.
P.S. – the cheapest fare I’ve seen is FedEx next day.
have you looked into train fares? and if you flew on Thanksgiving Day and came back Tuesday or Wednesday you could probably do it a whole bunch cheaper.
Just think, you won’t have to go through these things much longer! Look at your ring and smile.
Oh, I feel your pain. Air fares are just so expensive, and Thanksgiving fares are especially heinous. Depending on how long you have with the kids, you might think about the train, but sometimes that can be just as expensive. Good luck!
I’d take the ticket that only cost a pound of flesh.
It’s like a diet and a a plane ticket ALL IN ONE!
Two thoughts, Mir –
1) Southwest flies from Manchester and into Birmingham, AL – two hrs from Atlanta.
2) see if there are cheaper flights from Logan on AirTran (take the bus down).
Also, flying TGiving day is ALWAYS cheaper.
Oh yeah, try http://www.mobissimo.com – I’ve gotten some GREAT deals from them too.
My brother-in-law uses the discount sites, and it seems like he’s said that they’ll sometimes come back and accept your offer via email.
Of course, there’s a very good chance I’ve got that confused with other travel information.
I wonder, David, if there is any way to “catapult” an entire family without landing the lighter ones in different counties? We also have helmets… And maybe we could solve the landing issue by taking some hints from the parasailing industry in Florida. We’d land in our vacation. How cool is that?
Ruth, I think the landing problem can be solved with a good piece of rope. Never underestimate the power of a boy scout knot to keep things together!
David, you made me snort my coffee. My laptop thanks you.
To Otto: Yes, having your own helmet is a plus. I must admit though, I thought at first you’d said you had your own hamlet — quite handy also, as those sorts of things often ease the burden of rounding up a winding crew.
To Ruth: You can hold onto each other really tight during launch, but group harnesses are available upon request. Leather helmets and goggles are handy, yes. And parachutes? Well, there’s a small fee for those if you don’t bring your own. Of course, if you upgarde to 1st Class… complimentary — in First Class of course.
I think I’ll book my next vacation thru David, all first class, of course :) We are not traveling this Tday, just can’t take it, but will be doing a lot of driving over a week for Christmas, so that’s the trade off.
Definitely fly Thanksgiving Day. Much, much cheaper.
Catpult, flying day of, train, different airport + rent-a-car: I can’t wait to hear what you decide to do!
Huh, I also suspected Shatner was an asshat.
Costbar is really good for hotels. Not so great for plane tickets. Just don’t use a blacklight on the bedspread.
Costbar jump-started my three year relationship with a (then) long distance love. I placed my so low they won’t take it price as I was still unsure if I wanted to go and they took it! It was less than $120 from TX to CA and now I know that if things work out I have to thank Captain Kirk. (blech)