My husband, my youngest and myself decided last minute to travel home to Toronto for a few days in early December to celebrate the holiday with our family. Although my hubby travels most years to celebrate the season with his family in early December, due to factors like the cost of traveling as a family of five, sports commitments, kids school schedules & exams we have not traveled home in December as a family in many years.
When we realized that schedule wise it would work for us to travel with our youngest, and surprise our family, I immediately went into booking mode. Although in booking mode, I somehow took off my travel advisor hat and went right into traveler mode. We had a short window of time to book our tickets, I was super busy working on my clients travel itineraries and getting ready for the holiday season, my first instinct was to find the lowest fare possible. Without even thinking I pulled up a popular Online Travel Agency, aka OTA (sites such as Travelocity, Expedia, Priceline etc) and found a fare that I was super happy with and it was departing out of Daytona Beach to boot. I quickly compared the pricing to the airlines booking tool and choose to save myself minimal dollars and booked with the OTA. I was so ecstatic about the price that I proudly sent my hubby a text to tell him what a bargain shopper I was. (He is a numbers guy and I knew that he would be impressed). I think my ticket purchasing transaction took me a total of ten minutes.
Immediately after booking my tickets I signed into my sky miles account and attempted to book our seats. What I quickly realized was I had not read the fine print when I purchased my financially pleasing airlines tickets to Toronto, and seat assignment was not available for this class of service until time of check-in. Not being seat assigned is a stress that I am not very good at dealing with as I suffer a little from claustrophobia and need an aisle seat when I travel. I know, I know it seams a little silly that an ex-flight attendant, now travel advisor has issues while flying. But such is the case.
Anyway, I finally received my notification that it was time to check-in and we were able to secure seats (me with an aisle) for the first leg of our trip. What it didn’t allow us to do was obtain our seat assignments from Atlanta to Toronto, we had to receive these upon arrival in Atlanta. Now, one of the perks traveling international is that you get to stop at the Duty-Free store and make a purchase or two. Once we reached our terminal we stopped by the Delta counter to get our seats assigned but were quickly informed that we can only get them from our gate agent. Our gate was of course the second from the end of the corridor, so the three of us kicked it into gear and headed to the gate to get our seat assignments so that hubby and I could make it back to the Duty-Free store to pick up our libations of choice to enjoy during our trip home. We arrived at the gate and while we waited patiently for our turn to speak with the gate agent I checked my Delta app to see if by chance our seats had by assigned. Nope, however we were number 3,4,5 on the waiting list with many more seats still available on the plane. We were getting on the flight but just need to wait. It was finally our turn to speak with the gate-agent. In the time period between checking the app and speaking with the agent, our seats had been assigned and yes I was able to get an aisle again. We actually didn’t need to be in the boarding area or speak with a gate agent to be assigned, it was done automatically based on when we checked-in. We looked at the time and taking a deep breath we began our trek back to Duty-Free. We knew what we wanted and quickly headed to the cashier thinking, phew we made it, or so we thought. What we had not anticipated was that Duty-Free has a cut-off period to make purchases for each flight. We had just missed that time-frame and our purchases were not allowed. Feeling defeated we headed to our gate and boarded our plane.
The stress of not being able to obtain seats prior to check-in, not being able to receive seat assignments on multiple legs of a trip, and the Duty-Free fiasco, it was decided by all, never again, will we book the least expensive option when traveling. For us, it is just not worth the savings.