Nothing in life is free. And if you don’t believe that, well, then just try booking a flight to Europe in July, in the height of the high season. What you gain in a reasonable price, you pay for it, with well, everything but money.
CB and I just purchased our round-trip tickets for our 3-week summer European adventure. Rest assured that there will be many budgeting / trip-planning posts to come, but what I want to talk about is saving money by giving up time, convenience, and comfort. And oh, are we doing so on our flights.
Getting from the west coast of USA to Europe is expensive in the summer, but it can be made less expensive if you are willing to compromise. After 3 days of playing around with different websites (Kayak, google.com/flights, ITA Matrix, etc.) and adjusting different dates and arrival/departure cities, I found a fare for $1,225 round-trip, per person, from Los Angeles to London, then from Warsaw back to Los Angeles. This, unfortunately, is just about the best fare I’ve found.
The trick is that our flight back has a 6am departure time and 2 long layovers: 5 hours in Frankfurt and 4 hours in Calgary. We would have spent 24 hours traveling (not including time to and from airports) by the time we finally get back home, and that’s if all flights run on time. By selecting this route over one that only has 1 layover, however, saved us $60/person.
(We did a similar thing on our trip back from Mexico: a 6:30am departure, a 2-hour layover in Houston, and a 7-hour layover in San Francisco that turned into an 8-hour layover when our flight was delayed. It was pretty bad, but we tried to convince ourselves that it wasn’t horrible because at least CB and I had each other to keep company / take turns watching our bags).
Here are a few things that helped me decide yes, we value the savings more than our time, our comfort, and possibly our sanity:
- The $120 total saved would pay for 1 night in London.
- With a Kindle loaded with several good (free!) books, I can wait A LOT.
- I’m not working immediately after the trip, and CB’s school doesn’t start for another month, so even if we somehow get pushed one or two days after we are supposed to return, we’ll be OK.
- I’m not working immediately after the trip, and so money is at a premium. In this case, I must sadly conclude that money > time.