To Book or Not To Book13 Jan 2003
I thought the Internet was supposed to make it easy to book a flight.
We're set to meet Christopher's grandparents in Florida the first two weeks of April. We wanted to go in March, but Mama's schedule won't allow it. We'd have liked to spend about €1500 for the three of us to fly, but my queries on Expedia came back with 'fat chance'. April is no longer winter season, and it's too close to Easter. There used to be seats on British Airways for €1300 (with a magic transfer from Gatwick to Heathrow... that would be fun with a 3-year-old), but they were long gone. Our only chance was Delta for €1800.
It's now getting late, and the fares aren't getting any cheaper. On a lark, I thought I'd try Opodo, the portal set up by Lufthansa and some other European airlines. And there was a special Lufthansa online economy tarrif for €1600 that's not listed on Expedia. Lufthansa is good since that's Mama collects miles there for business. (But not for the service, which, especially on domestic flights, leaves much to be desired. She calls Lufthansa Business Class 'the most expensive in the world'.)
However, the Opodo website sucks in many ways. It's only usable under Internet Explorer. Under Mozilla the page with the list of available flights is blank. But even under IE it's hard to use. If you hit the back button during a booking, all the data disappears and you have to start over. If you try to login during a booking, all the data disappears and you have to start over. And if you save a itenerary and recall it later, it saves only the search parameters and not the actual flights; in effect all the data disappears and you have to start over.
I was frustrated enough to try to book the flight at Lufthansa's own web site (which, strangely enough for a German carrier, defaults to English). They offer the same special online economy fare, but it is impossible to enter a child as a passenger, or indeed more than 2 adults.
In the end, I wasted 90 minutes of potential Christopher quality time trying to put together a set of flights that I could print out (since I cannot save the flights, only the query) to show to Mama (we need to discuss whether we want quick or leisurely layovers). Then, since my data has disappeared, I'll have to start over to actually book the flights.
I think this is why travel agents will not go out of business.
Oh, for the curious, we'll be flying HAM-FRA-IAD-TPA. Maybe we'll be able to see WorldWideKlein's satellite dish as we fly over.