Friday, June 17, 2011

The last-minute traveler's bitter enemy and BFF

1.  A couple of years ago my Grandma fell ill and we thought she was going to pass away (which she did, but that's not the point o f this post).  At the time, she lived in Minnesota and I lived in Brooklyn, New York.   There are many, many flights between the three New York City area airports and MSP, but as I was flying at the last minute, I knew that the fares would be spendy, so I called a couple of airlines and asked about their bereavement fares.  

Almost without fail, the "Bereavement Fares" were as high, or higher, than the most expensive fares that I found when conducting my own ticket search.  WTF?  Now, I loved Grandma and the was no way I was not going to her funeral so I knew I would spend whatever I had to spend to get there, but COME ON!  I wasn't jetting to Cabo for a sex romp!  I was flying to Minnesota in the dead of WINTER to bury a loved one, so why in the world was the quoted bereavement fare so much more expensive than other last minute fares (which were, in and of themselves, quite pricey)?  When I asked this question of the ticketing agent I was told that tickets purchased under a bereavement code could be changed without penalty, which I thought was both evil and moronic, as I've not heard of many funerals being rescheduled, thus requiring attendees to change their travel plans.  I told him so, and bought a cheaper, non-bereavement ticket.

2. A couple of months ago I was scouring Craig's List for apartments in Minneapolis, where I was planning to move.  After seeing a lot of potentially awesome apartments on line, I decided that I needed to fly out and see some so that I could make a decision and start working on the move.  I hopped on, my go-to airline ticket aggregator, and, as expected, prices for last minute (leaving in 2 days) tickets were astronomical.  I was fretting over the wisdom of making this expensive trip when my pal Jim suggested I check out a site called Last Minute (, which specializes in last minute tickets, to see what I could find.

A few minutes of poking about on Last Minute and it became clear that this was the solution to my problems.  Quoted prices were significantly cheaper than anything I was able to find online, either through other ticket aggregators or directly through airlines. 

But wait! There's more!

In a bizarro twist of norms and up-ending of all travel advice I had ever been given, I found that my trip would be even cheaper if I purchased two one-way tickets instead of one round-trip ticket. So

Tip For You:  The next time you need (or shoot, even just want) to book a last minute flight, check out and consider a one-way ticket. And remember, bereavement fares are for suckers.

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