When a good deal surfaces, you cannot wait to book it. Even a few minutes.
Earlier today I saw a post from View from the Wing highlighting an incredible deal from Vancouver to Sydney, Australia on All Nippon Airways (ANA). Prices were coming in at under $600 round-trip in business class.
When I see a fare like this, I drop everything and attempt to book it. Naturally, I take a look at my calendar to make sure I am not double booking, but I don’t wait and have a discussion with my wife and then check on hotel availability. Nope, I just book first and ask questions later.
This particular fare came with the following rules:
- Fly Monday – Thursday in each direction
- 21-day advance purchase required
- 7-night minimum stay + 6-month maximum stay
- CA$500 fee for refund / CA$450 change fee
So the refund fee would be 2/3 of the ticket price (i.e. not worth not flying). Still, ANA provides customers a 24-hour grace period when booking any trip on its website, so I booked worry-free: I can sleep it on and always cancel the trip tomorrow morning.
The Particulars of This Trip
I want to take my wife on an extended holiday to Australia, but this wasn’t the time. Sure, we could have brought baby along and bought him his own seat: it was not an issue of price. Instead, it was an issue of age. Augustine is now 10-months old and the trip back from Frankfurt last month was rough. He’s outgrown a bassinet and is at the age where he’s not a particularly good traveler. Instead, he needs a routine and a week in Australia would wreak havoc on it.
My friend John and I have a business associate in Australia we need to meet with and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so. A couple problems, though: first, we don’t need to be in Australia a whole week. Second, we’ll have to get back and forth from LA to Vancouver. Flying via Vancouver and Tokyo will be far more annoying than nonstop from LA. But at that price…
There was no time, however, to sort out this issue. We could not even confirm the meeting since it is Saturday. There was only time to book it. So I did. I navigated to the ANA website since the 7 day x 7 day search feature made it easy to see which days had the lowest fare available.
I found a date in November and went through the booking process, but it erred out during the booking process. I figured the jig was up.
But I tried again, found alternate dates, and this time was able to secure the tickets. It wasn’t the dates we wanted, it wasn’t the routing we wanted, but we got the seats for $623 round-trip.
On the way out we’ll fly Vancouver to San Francisco to Tokyo Narita then from Tokyo Haneda to Sydney. That’s much more annoying than just YVR-HND-SYD. But $623 r/t to Australia in business class?! Beggars cannot be choosers. Plus, it will mean a 777-300 on the way over and 787-9 on the return.
My credit was charged and the tickets were instantly issued. From the time I saw the fare to the time I completed booked: less than 10 minutes.
Mistake or Not?
I do believe this fare is a mistake. Therefore I do not plan to challenge ANA should it decide to cancel my ticket. I do hope that ANA will have the courtesy to reach out to me before doing so, but I’m fully prepared. We’re not booking the Park Hyatt Sydney yet!
The point of this post is to walk you through my thought process when booking a cheap ticket. Assume the fare will disappear within minutes, not hours, and if you’re remotely interested, simply confirm the airline has a 24-hour courtesy cancelation period and book it. You cannot wait for everything else to fall into place or else it will be too late.
The fare was pulled moments after I completed my booking.
image: blackqualis / FLICKR