I often spend considerable time, energy and money to procure cheap flights.
Spend cash to keep the ticket price down?
Of course. To finance my last trip to see my father, I acquired 17 new credit cards. Sure, purchasing matching paisley appliances and a lawn-mowing robot named Bubba upped my debt totals. But the rewards points earned me an all-expenses-paid flight to beautiful, fragrant Monroe, Louisiana, the paper-mill-ambiance capital of the world.
Some might assume I took a red-eye or predawn flight. Instead, my creative itinerary kept the price in sync with my points: Indianapolis to Detroit to Memphis to Monroe. The underlying principle: Increased Distance Equals Lower Costs. Strange that this principle never pans out when I drive. Picking up dry cleaning in Marion, Indiana, I do not take a route through Salt Lake City. But those Bobby-goes-40-miles-Billy-goes-30 story problems never made sense to me, either, so why question airline wisdom?
In Detroit, my jet balked at takeoff. We passengers waited three hours on the plane before mechanics declared it legally dead. The airline issued next-day tickets and vouchers for food and lodging. The hotel honored my hard-luck coupon with no charges. However, an airport Coke cost more than my six-dollar meal voucher allowed. Perhaps, given the Increased Distance Equals Lower Costs Principle, I should have hit a McDonald’s in Salt Lake City?
To avoid baggage fees, I had brought only a carry-on. When my cheap flight included a surprise overnight stay, I gave thanks for curling iron and fresh undies that surely would have been routed to Samoa, had I checked a bag through. However, if left with only laptop and breath mints, would I have received a new-clothes voucher? My seventeen credit cards and I would have gone shopping — accruing even more bonus rewards points!
The next day, my plane suffered no malady except overstuffed bags in its overhead bins. (We passengers measure carry-ons with the same accuracy we use in measuring calories.) Would some legalistic flight attendant strand me in Detroit forever? Instead, the guy not only jammed my duffle, telescopes and bass violins into upper compartments, he crammed in a passenger’s bison, tail and all.
We cheapskate passengers also refused to waste money on airline food, sharing snacks brought in a spirit of brotherhood, compassion and anti-cannibalism.
Avoiding rental car and parking costs, we’d asked friends and relatives to pick us up. I’d forgotten, however, that my octogenarian father would insist on driving us home. Had his cut-rate cataract surgery reduced his triple vision?
Or would my rewards trip to heaven come sooner than expected?
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your all-time best travel deal?