Getting Information on Air Fares Is a Challenge.
I wonder if it’s an actual marketing strategy of the airline industry to confuse their customers. For example, there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the price of a ticket.
Oh, I know there’s a computer somewhere that figures it all out and the amount they charge for flying us from A to B varies according to how far in advance we book the flight. But the only way the individual consumer can figure it out and get a good deal is to go to one of the websites that compares all the available fares on that particular day: Expedia or Kayak, for example. And sometimes, even then, you have to absorb the relevant information by osmosis.
The last time I checked-in for an American Airlines flight from here on Maui to Los Angeles, I inquired about the cost of an upgrade and was told it was $350. I declined. A month ago, when I checked in for an Alaska Airlines flight from here to Sacramento, an upgrade into first class was a hundred bucks. Quite a difference. I popped for the extra hundred and it was well worth it for a flight of almost six hours.
In September, I’m flying from Seattle to Paris on Icelandair with a ticket I purchased through Expedia.com. There’s a stop in Reykjavik, but the total flying time is ten-and-a-half hours and the plane is my least favorite: a Boeing 757 with tight three-and-three seating. So, I thought, since my economy ticket only cost $545, why not check to see what the cost of an upgrade to first class on that flight would be.
I emailed Icelandair and received a reply saying that I would have to get that information from Expedia since they had booked the flight. I called Expedia and, after some delay, was told that there is no first class seating on that Icelandair flight. At that particular moment, however, I was looking at a seating chart for that very flight on the SeatGuru web site, which clearly showed a first class cabin with 22 seats. Upon hearing that, the Expedia agent put me on hold for several minutes. When she returned, she had my answer: the cost of an upgrade could only come from Icelandair.
Back to Icelandair I went, and more time spent on hold. No indeed, said a polite but very firm lady, who finally came on the line. I would have to get that information from Expedia because they had negotiated some special fares and, therefore, only they can tell me what an upgrade would cost.
In the meantime, I learn by going direct to the Icelandair web site that a first class ticket on my flight, from Seattle all the way to Paris, would cost $2700. Furthermore, clicking on a tiny “Information” icon revealed this little nugget: Icelandair’s first class service includes “à la carte meals”.
Whoa! That’s almost $2200 more than what I paid for an economy seat, and for that I get a wider seat, more legroom, and a couple glasses of wine … but the food is extra?
I think not. But thanks anyway, Expedia. Or is it Icelandair?