I THINK I have been through a bait & switch gambit in trying to buy my air ticket to Peru, but in today’s airfare scene, I’m not sure. Maybe, it simply represents the sonic speed with which fares either change or get snapped up. I’ll give Spirit Air the benefit of the doubt, but here are the details of my experience:
Last week, while in Denver, I received one of the BootsnAll Cheap Ticket Watch newsletters and decided to price round-trip tickets between Tampa, Florida and Lima, Peru. Ooooo! Here’s one for $450! Wow! And it was more direct than most, flying in a logical manner south to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and on to South America instead of taking me all the way up to Newark, New Jersey and back down the length of the country to finally head way south to Peru. Unbelievably, that’s the most common routing.
Anyway, I tried to buy it, only to get the information after I had entered all my credit card data, that those seats were sold out. Did I want a much more expensive one? NO! So, I backed out of that transaction.
Two days ago, through the same Boots newsletter, I tried again and Wow, oh Wow! Here’s one for Spirit Air for only $307 on both the Cheapo and the One Travel Booking site. I went with One Travel. Gee, lucky the last one didn’t work out, maybe I can snag this one. Everything was good, including a sane departure hour in the morning – 8:45 a.m. This time, it looked as if the ticket went through as my credit card data was accepted and I had my ticket information to print out…though I noticed later that the base charge was $370, not $307 as had been shown on the original information page. With airport fees added, it all came to $515, which was still a good buy.
That night, I was awakened from a sound sleep at 11:30 p.m., by a One Travel employee, telling me that there were no seats at that price. Were my dates and flight times flexible? Well, yes. So, I sleepily stayed on the phone for a very long time while he surfed Spirit Air’s schedule trying to find a seat at that price. I heard him mumble “2 a.m. departure” and also, $700, both of which I quickly vetoed. He concluded the call saying he had to talk to his superior and could he call me tomorrow? Okay. I returned to bed but had great trouble slipping back into that nice deep sleep. Thanks Buddy!
Yesterday, I noticed through online banking that the original amount was now On Hold in my bank account. Still good to go! But, later, I found an email waiting for me saying that there was a mistake and my ticketing had not gone through, as the fellow said. I never heard from him again, but called and talked to somebody else, who confirmed that Spirit Air did NOT have any seats at that price, but for an additional $100, I could buy that ticket with them.
After the similar experience of the previous week, the words Bait & Switch were resounding in my mind. However, I liked the route, time and date and authorized the increase just to get the thing settled, so that I would have my tickets at $633, which included trip insurance. It was still a good price but all day I regretted having rewarded that practice by going ahead with it.
Ha! Today, I found an email from One Travel saying that my debit card didn’t go through for that second ticket. Well, there was money in my bank, but I think the problem was their own Hold on the previous funds of more than five hundred dollars for the first ticket. A second dip-in would have clanked. I was actually relieved and, right away, called the number given and happily cancelled the whole transaction. Now, I am ticketless again, or still, but next I plan to call the airlines that Donovan suggested in the first place – Multi-stop South America at 1-877-768-1311 and see what they have to offer. I’d forgotten that suggestion but have now found it scratched on the cover of my South America on a Shoestring Lonely Planet book. Hopefully, I’m still far enough out to get a good price.
Please understand that BootsnAll had nothing to do with this pricing tactic and I’m sure that One Travel is innocent too. It must be Spirit Air’s way of getting themselves on the top listing to come up, and even their added-onto price is not that expensive. But I feel very baited after this has happened twice. Maybe, I’ll wind up cooperating with the game if everybody else insists on sending me through Newark or Houston at a higher price for the privilege but I hope I can avoid encouraging that practice.
Today, I put in the hours at the Health Department to get my innoculations up to date. I only needed a typhoid shot as those only last for two years. Next, I must get my malaria prescription. Last night, I had a delightful meeting with a local book club that had studied my new book over the past month. Tomorrow night, I will give a speech at the Dunedin Public Library, so things are very active around here, travelwise.