|by Jason Steele|
Two airlines will fly you from point A to point B. One charges $100 more than the other. Baggage and other fees being equal, which one should you take?
A. The Cheaper One
B. The More Expensive One
C. There Is Not Enough Information To Make A Decision
The answer is clearly C, as some airlines will always offer a lower fare, but saddle you with a less than ideal itinerary. I am frequently asked the question of whether an extra stop is worth the savings. It comes down to a variety of factors. First, how much time will the stop add to your itinerary. There is a big difference between a stop along your route at a relatively quiet airport with no change of planes, and a long connection at a congested, out of the way airport. In the first instance, you might only expect to arrive about an hour later, and there is no chance of mis-connecting. In the later arrangement, you could be adding hours to both your travel time and your flight times. Worse, you are doubling the risk of cancellations and lost luggage. You also have to take into account the possibility that a weather delay or cancellation will force you to pay out of pocket for overnight accommodations at your transfer city.
If you are a student or you are retired, perhaps your money is far more important than your time. Compared to other forms of transport, even a delayed trip will be far quicker and the money saved will prove valuable in your travels.
While I am an extremely frugal traveler, one of my most precious commodities is my time. I have just so many days off a year for vacations, that I have to make the most of each one. You will find me at the airport departing for vacation after a day at work so that I can wake up the next day at my destination. You will also see me on the last flight out on my return so I can make the most of my final day off. Throw in a change of planes, and I end up spending too much time traveling. Additionally, I would vastly increase my chances of missing a day of vacation if I have a problem on the outbound, or a day of work if I run into trouble on the return. I have had both experiences, and neither are much fun.
That said, everyone has their price. I have booked a quick stop to save $100, and even a change of planes to save more than $200. That is about where my limits lie. When booking a flight for you or someone else, you have to find out how much your time is worth an how much of a risk you can afford. Once you set a dollar amount, you can then make the best decisions about which itinerary is going to serve your needs.