Friday, November 23, 2012

Cyber Stalking

There are a couple Internet sites I visit enough that I might be considered to have an obsessive compulsive disorder or be a full-blown cyber stalker. At least twice a year, before summer vacation and then again before the holidays, Southwest Airlines is one of them.

It’s amazing to me how often fares change. One minute there is a fare for $190 (one way) ... you blink, and suddenly it’s $290. Since October 1, when vacation requests for the remainder of the year were due at work, I have been checking Southwest every day, multiple times a day. A couple times I missed out on a great fare at a ridiculous departure time (for $106 I can get up at 3 am to depart at 6 am!) or a great time at a reasonable fare that evaporated before 1) the vacation request approval was received, or 2) my credit card was pried out of my wallet. Frustrating, to say the least.

Even while cooking Thanksgiving dinner, I was popping into the computer room to obsessively check airfares, because I had the whole day at home and I could. In the course of setting up a dish for dinner, one flight I was eyeballing to a less convenient airport but at a better arrival time jumped $125. You snooze you lose. Or, in this case, you put some potatoes into a bowl and, so sorry, that’ll cost you a bit more.

It’s been a juggling act coordinating a flight time convenient to a doggy boarding check-in time, that also flies into the most convenient of the three airports serving the Massachusetts area. Since Southwest started flying into BWI, there are no more nonstop flights to Rhode Island or Providence, so there is the added fun of which airport one wants to be dashing through to change planes. Since discovering sushi at BWI several Thanksgiving’s ago, I kind of like that airport. And I’ve seen winter weather reports and the show “Airline” starring Southwest, so I know I want to avoid Midway in Chicago in the winter.

The list of considerations continues. Is it worth saving $50 on airfare if it doubles the drive time to or from the airport? Is $100 saved ever worth the hell of driving in Boston? Can I make a 9 am hair color appointment and fly out that same day with glorious, radiant Christmas hair color? And what day should I return to the current never-will-feel-like-home town?

Not having a flight booked was wearing me out. Looking at flights was stressing me out. I vowed the next decent flight/fare combination I saw would be reserved without delay, because it finally penetrated my thick skull that with Southwest, you don’t have to book the round trip -- they allow one-way bookings.

On Black Friday, when many people were out shopping for incredible bargains, I was in my pajamas checking email. And airfare. You know, for incredible bargains. Email held a sale announcement from Shoedazzle, my new favorite purveyor of fabulous footwear, online or bricks and mortar. There were having a 60% off sale and a BOGO sale. I found boots perfect for my middle niece and some for my sister under the BOGO sale. I popped over to Southwest to initiate the day's fare trolling. And got lucky. The flight leaving Nashville at 2:25 pm and arriving at 7:15 at the airport most convenient to my family dropped $100 since 24 hours earlier and was now the same price as the flight arriving at the supremely less convenient hour of 10:20 pm. And I pounced.

Now I just need to figure out where I want to be on New Year’s Eve so I can go through the whole exercise again to book the return flight.

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