Flighing high in economic storms

Next week I’ll be in Orlando for another week of brainstorming, planning scheming, plotting for world domination and yes, even coding.

Q : “What are you going to do next week?”
A : “The same thing I do every time when I’m in Orlando – Try to take over the world!”

So I went to kayak and entered my flight preferences: leave and return on Sunday giving me a full week over there.  I was almost shocked to see that the same flight I took 2 months ago now costs less than a third:

  • July 13th 2008 : BRU/MCO – MCO/BRU (over FRA) : 2,400 USD (summer time folks!)
  • October 12th 2008 : BRU/MCO – MCO/BRU (over IAD) : 2,000 USD
  • December 7th 2008 : BRU/MCO – MCO/BRU (over PHL) : 600 USD

Typically I’m not selecting the cheapest flight as that would put me on 18 hour layovers in Bankok or something like that. In the past I’ve once spent 8 hours at Chicago airport and trust me, it’s not worth the 100 USD you can save.  You’ll spend it on Internet access, food, “beverages”, magazines, etc.

That being said, the December 7th flight is the cheapest flight with “only” 1 layover.

In the past I’ve noticed that the airlines added more and more options for me to fly to Orlando or at least across the Atlantic ocean.  Now that the economic downturn is upon us, perhaps there’s finally a bit of over-capacity.  After all, the last 5 flights I took from Brussels to the US had been fully booked flights.  That’s right folks: listening to hollering kids with Mickey Mouse ears for 9 hours straight.  Even noise canceling headset have a hard time with that kind of noise.

Electronic System for Travel Authorization

Another thing of interest for the geeks among you is that you are now encouraged to apply for authorization to enter the US well in advance to replace the manually written green “Visa Waiver” documents.  Nobody makes a fuss about it, but registration for us Europeans is obliged or so you can read from January 12th 2009 on.  I’m sure there are going to be freedom fighters here and there that are going to be up in arms over this sort of program, but personally I’m glad that we can finally fill in those green “waiver” documents electronically at home.  From the looks of it, there’s nothing on there that you don’t already fill in manually now. (it felt kinda familiar filling them in)

I’ll let you know how they perceive my eagerness to fill in these “hidden” electronic documents at the US border next week 🙂

Until then,
Matt

4 comments

  • Oh gods. Screaming children suck! 600usd sounds remarkably cheap though. I’ve stopped doing economy class when I can avoid it, but that sounds almost worth the pain. I try never to fly through ord. Especially in winter!

  • Actually Philip, several airlines now offer a “Premium” economy seats but they are only available at check-in. Last time around I took one of those and you get the extra 15cm of leg room.

    http://www.seatguru.com/charts/premium_economy.php

    It only cost me 60 euro extra to fly across the Atlantic (don’t care about the short flights in the US) so it was very much worth it for me.

  • Yeah – I know about the “premium economy”. On certain US airlines however, “premium economy” is “not the middle seat”, which is disgusting and wrong, but there you go… Untied lets you upgrade to their “economy plus” online and they seem to have fairly fixed rates for that. The 60EUR sounds about correct. Last time I took a domestic US flight and couldn’t get into business class, I paid around the same for a flight across the country.

    Whenever possible though, I try to get customers to pay for business class for flights longer than a couple of hours. Given the alternative of paying for my time, customers often find this the cheaper option. These days, I also usually have enough miles to upgrade my ticket if I can’t get someone to book me in business. Clearly an indication that I’ve been flying way too much. 😮 My carbon footprint is completely off the charts. 😮

    Oh – just read the rest of your post: I filled in the green form online when I flew across the ditch last month and they made me fill in a paper one too. So I don’t think the system is completely “there” yet. Or I just got unlucky. I don’t usually have trouble with US immigration though, they look at the number of entry stamps in my passport and send me on my way. 🙂

  • I fear the same thing’s going to happen to me too: fill in the green card, bend over and take it like a man.
    That being said, you have to wonder about the Jan 19th deadline. In around 6 weeks they make the bloody system mandatory and virtually nobody knows about it. Last year we had the case with the electronic passports rule blocking my colleague Thomas as the border. Something tells me that wasn’t the last case of travel “sickness”.

    As for business class: I have trouble with the prices, whoever pays it. So for me the premium gives hope for a better way to cope with cattle class.