Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Two-Times-Ticket Theorum

I'm in a better mood today. I woke up yesterday with a burning desire to book a flight to Cape Town to see my family. So I did just that. Most of the time I struggle to justify spending 2grand on a mere weekend trip and find that flying in on a Friday night and out again on a Sunday afternoon can sometimes be more traumatic (just when you're settling back in, you have to leave again). But this time I thought screw it, I wanna go.

So I did just that ... although the actual ticket booking process wasn't as simple as I was expecting :) Haha. So I looked at Kulula - excuse me, aren't they supposed to be our *budget* airline ?! Now fair enough, I was looking at dates that are a mere 3-4 weeks away but seriously, they're charging R1200 - R1850 per flight (yes, one way people!). Ahem. So naturally I checked Mango ... not much better. So I ended up having a look at Travelstart, which can usually be quite helpful. Travelstart could get me a return ticket on SAA for just over R1700. Whoo hoo, happy days. So I start going thru the whole process. Can you believe they now offer all these "extras" (already ticked, I might add!) like TravelAssist (which I think is for people in a wheelchair and the like ... how can this be pre-ticked for every ticket purchased?), a Cancellation Policy (if you get ill or a family member dies and you have to miss your flight), an SMS service (for R19 ?! Just how many SMSes are they sending a person, I want to know!) and my personal favourite: Airline Liquidation Policy (you know, for all those people who were caught out when Nationwide went under). Sheesh. All these pre-selected "extras" add close to R500 onto your ticket price. Needless to say I didn't want any!

And then I thought, hang-on, why not check out SAA directly? Which I did, and got the exact same flights R200 cheaper! Hello, now I'm smiling :) So let's put this all into perspective for you: SAA flights ended up costing me R600 (plus a whopping R900 on airport taxes ... that's 150% of my friggin ticket price people! Now I'd really like someone to explain airport taxes to me cause they seem exorbitant). SAA is our local carrier and serves a meal on each flight. I won't say if the meal itself is good or bad, I can't remember when last I had a meal on a flight to Cape Town! But the main reason I'm pointing this out is that I still get freebies, like a meal, on a return flight costing R1500. Kulula, our original low cost carrier (ie. no freebie meals), would cost me just over R3000 ... and that's with a Discovery Vitality discount!

Anyway, needless to say I don't think I did too badly with that. But that's not the end of the story. I head off to my email account (gmail, duh) to await my confirmation email ... and find a booking confirmation email from Travelstart. WTF? Surely you can't confirm a booking before I pay? Surely. No no, their friendly email tells me I have until the 18th to pay. Eep. I certainly do NOT want to be paying for 2 flights to Cape Town on the same weekend! Panic stations. I've never had to cancel a flight before, do they let you off the hook that easily. Varen assures me they do (especially since I hadn't yet paid), but I wasn't going to be breaqthing a sigh of relief till it was resolved. So I tried calling their hot-line (about 10 times) ... no answer. Their 8 - 5 online chat service ... offline (even tho it's like 9am!). I am freaking out here people! So I mail them. Finally (about 10 minutes later) somone comes online, available to "chat". Shoo! Thankfully she had my erroneously booked flight cancelled a few minutes later and I let out a long sigh of relief. So the good news is, I'm going to Cape Town in March for a much-deserved weekend :) Yay.

Not much else happened yesterday. I did manage to get to gym tho :) And I made a delish Vegetarian Cottage Cheese Lasagne for dinner. Which my red-meat-eating Afrikaans boyfriend gave an 8 out of 10 :) I know! It was delish tho ... but was plenty prep work. Seriously, grilling red peppers till they blister and peeling off the skin is just far too much of a hassle for me! Thanks for helping, babe, you're a * :)


Anonymous said...

YAY! I'd say that's something awesome to look forward to! :)

Tamara said...

So cool! I miss CT. Wish we had the cash for a visit.

Ja... airlines piss me off. So do admin-type recipes. I was going to ask for that recipe for my red-meat-eating Afrikaans husband, but now I'm not so sure.

boldly benny said...

I must admit that often when I feel the way you've been feeling I know it's time for some CT time. I know it sounds corny but the place really feeds my soul. Just being with my family makes me content and really recharges me!

I hope you have a wonderful time.

As for freaking airlines, FUUUUUUCK they drive me bonkers! I can't believe how expensive tickets have become... especially if you don't want to take leave and just want a Fri-Sun ticket! I'm going in March too, can't wait!

Laura said...

I have no idea how the taxes work but what I do know is that everytime I have tried to book flights - SAA has ALWAYS been cheaper by ALOT!

ENJOY the weekend!

The Jackson Files said...

I cannot even begin to tell you how furious I get with airport taxes - it's not like we don't pay enough tax on our salaries AND then VAT on everything on top of that.

Also, I don't think that they should charge airport tax for internal flights.

ANYWAY...yay for your CT trip.

Unknown said...

I'm always amazed that I can get cheaper flights through SAA too.
Enjoy your trip!

phillygirl said...

@jane - Yeah it really is :)

@tamara - haha, it's well worth the effort tho!

@benny - that's exactly it! I also can't believe how expensive it's gotten :(

@laura - SAA is my new favourite ... now finger's crossed they actually leave on time!

@tjf - exactly. And what are they doing with all these airport taxes anyway?!

@jenty - yeah it is very peculiar that our standard airline is *cheaper* than our low-cost no-frills ones!

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