On not taking the long route

Much huzzahing going on here, because I’m heading back to Oxford next Saturday, and when I fly back to the US I’m going straight to Philly and into a girls’ weekend with Zoesmom and Queen Emily.

So this morning I booked my flight, via some circumlocution with the otherwise extremely helpful and friendly Expedia travel agent. He did seem surprised to hear I was vegetarian and commented that doctors say people need to eat meat. At which I was a bit taken aback, but reassured him that I’ve been perfectly healthy these last 25 years. (Expedia – travel and tips for healthy living!)

My requirements: BA morning flight out of JFK to LHR on Saturday 27 Feb; out of LHR and into Philadelphia in the late afternoon of Friday 5 March. (I know, I know, some people hate BA [hello, Dave!], but I’ve pretty much only had good experiences with them, including several upgrades, and Virgin doesn’t have flights at the right times for me. The American airlines are all equally bad and don’t even come under consideration. And no, I never thought I would be the sort of person who had developed an airline preference for  their intercontinental flights. But I am and I am totally comfortable with this level of preciosity, particularly when it comes with the occasional free glass of inflight champagne and with real cutlery.)

Travel agent’s initial offering:  Indirect, overnight flight out of La Guardia on Saturday, travelling with one of the crappy American airlines; return flight early afternoon on Friday, also indirect, also with crappy American airline.

Me: No. I’m not flying overnight and I prefer to travel BA. Aren’t there any BA flights?

His second offering: Direct BA flight out of JFK at the right time; direct BA return to Philly, also at the right time.

Me: Ta very much, I’ll take it.

But this did leave me wondering, are Expedia deliberately pushing American flights?  I’d already done some research and rather than the first trip they outlined for me I’d have done a JFK roundtrip and booked it direct with BA. But would someone else have been persuaded into thinking that there wasn’t much of an option and so taken the flights offered? Or, to give Expedia the benefit of the doubt, did they map out the cheapest trip for me, even thought that meant ignoring my specifically stated preferences? Either way, not an entirely satisfactory customer experience.


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I've run out of books. Again.

5 thoughts on “On not taking the long route”

  1. Many companies get certain perques for going with a specific airline (usually the, yes, very crappy AA) and will have agents automatically book employees on that airline unless the employee requests something different (even when it isn’t the cheapest). Cannot imagine why your company would have chosen AA, though. Then again, AA is the Evil Empire of airlines and probably has spells cast on all corporations.

  2. hmmm, I wonder if someone has lent on them? Doesn’t make sense for them not to offer you direct flights at suitable times when their name is clearly targeted at those requiring expediency! And, yes, I am all about the extra leg room and better food with Virgin, though I have always got my upgrades with BA, negating the leg room and food problem. I might, gasp, have to reconsider… meanwhile, looking fwd to seeing you!

  3. Dorothy- glad we got bookclub sorted out, thank you.
    Emily- We have free choice of flights as far as I know and there isn’t a corporate travel agent. But maybe whoever it was had cut a deal with Expedia.
    ZM – looking forward to Philly, it will make coming back a bit easier.
    Dave – see you Wednesday. I was thinking, if you get the stuff in, I’ll make you choc chip cookies…

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