So I just booked a flight to visit my sisters in New York City. I never really thought about it before but I have a quirky way of booking flights. I consider it strategic but outsiders may view it as being nit-picky or controlling. Whenever I book a flight no matter where it is, I consider a wide variety of factors. Depending on where I'm going depends on how many choices I get to make and believe me, I love choices.
One of the first factors I consider is timing. For trips outside the U.S., I'm limited on departure and arrival times. Planes from Chicago to certain cities in Europe only leave at certain times of the day. However, planes from Chicago to New York City leave almost every hour. If possible, I prefer to be one of the first planes out to whatever destination I'm going to. For example, my flight to New York City is leaving O'Hare Airport at 6:30am. I have my own scientific reasoning behind this but the main reason is that most early morning flights depart on-time. It's not a guarantee but I can't think of the last early morning flight that I had that was delayed. If the flight does get delayed then I should still be first in the line-up of flights for the day to depart. Another simple reason why I like to leave in the early morning is because when I arrive in whatever city I'm going to, I still have almost a full day of sight-seeing ahead of me. Another part of timing that I consider is who is taking me to the airport and who is picking me up. When flying in and out of O'Hare Airport, my dad is always my ride. I'm ever grateful to him for this, therefore I basically never pick flight times that coincide with rush hour traffic. Believe me, rush hour traffic is bad in Chicago. I wouldn't say it is the worst in the nation but it is up there. According to different online flight forums, many people also seem to recommend flying out in the early morning as the best time to fly. As far as best days of the week to fly out, the consensus was Tuesday. I also saw many people recommending Wednesday as being the cheapest day of the week to fly out.
Price is a big factor for many people when choosing flights. I play the "price is right" game. I already have a set price in my head that I feel is the right price for a flight for a city during that time of year. For example, I wouldn't pay more then around $200 to fly from Chicago to New York City or Chicago to Los Angeles. Many people would think that as the years go by, airfares would increase with inflation. I paid $180 in December 2004 for a flight to California and I paid $180 per person, round-trip nonstop this past March for a flight to California. My New York City flight that I just booked was $177 per person, round-trip nonstop. Granted, there are times when I might need to be in a city for a wedding or graduation, thus airfares are not as flexible. However, one cheap flight tip I would give out is to have a reasonable price in mind that you would pay for a flight and keep checking and checking and checking for that price. If possible try to be flexible on your travel time frame as well. My favorite airfare search engine is www.kayak.com. Many times I do go to the airline's actual site to check prices there too. For my New York City flight, Kayak told me that the cheapest flight was $192 with Spirit. I went to both Delta's and American Air's websites and found my round-trip airfare for $177 a person. I chose Delta because it flies into the Marine Terminal at LaGuardia and this terminal is always quiet. Some of my friends choose to get email updates once a fare is around a certain price which may be favorable for people who don't like to constantly check flight prices.
As I mentioned above, I booked Delta to fly into LaGuardia because it uses the Marine Terminal which is a separate terminal from the rest of LaGuardia airport. This terminal is almost always quiet and getting through security is super fast. Over the years I've found some "studs" and "duds" for airlines. This is just my personal opinion based on my experiences. One of my favorite airlines is Air France when I flew into Berlin during my Eastern Europe trip. Each seat had its own personal TV that was in the back of the chair in front of it. We each also got eye masks among other little amenities. I flew Air India into Frankfurt during our Germany trip. I loved our flight attendant. When he realized that we were having trouble eating the spicy Indian plane food that he gave us, he tried to bring us other non-spicy things to eat and also gave us a bunch of mini bottles of beer and wine. I think he was trying to make up for the fact that we were struggling to eat the food. Air India even gave out mini bags of what looked like Indian-style flaming hot cheetos. There is nothing wrong with Indian food, I just have trouble eating spicy food. The airline that I didn't care for the most was Iberia Airline. The flight attendants were extremely rude. They really turned me off to the airline and made me wonder if they hated their jobs. We took Iberia to Madrid on our honeymoon. When we checked in for our flight home, Iberia told us that they didn't know if we had a place on the plane because they had overbooked our flight. My husband and I went running through the airport to get to the gate to demand to get on the flight. We did board that flight but were given seats in separate areas of the plane. So during the 8 hour flight home from my honeymoon, I did not get to sit anywhere near my new husband.
Now here is my favorite airport. The photo is a little blurry but can you guess where it is?
My favorite airport is in the Galapagos Islands. We walked from the plane right into the airport. There was no conveyor belt for our luggage, it was all dragged from the plane and set in a group. There were no walls to the airport, just an overhang. Oh, and we didn't have to take off our shoes or give up our liquid items that we wanted to carry on the plane.