Earlier this week, I purchased my airline tickets for the upcoming trip to California my girlfriend and I will take in April. I went through a number of steps to find the best price including tinkering with SideStep.com.
The lowest cost non-stop flight for the dates and times my itinerary required was split between two carriers. SideStep.com wasn’t the only online tool that produced this result. My suggested flight west would be on Continental Airlines and the return flight would be on American Airlines. Even checking directly on Continental’s own website revealed that no return flights were available on that carrier.
As it turns out, sometimes seats are available but not displayed online. I called Continental Airlines and spoke to their booking agents. It turns out that there is a flight at the time I want, and the total price matches that of the combined Continental/American lowest cost round trip. It’s true that the flight is probably overbooked and they are anticipating some cancellations between now and April; I was not assigned a seat number.
It’s easy to become completely reliant on internet tools, but for flights, it doesn’t hurt to call the carrier directly. In this case, I didn’t save any money, but by combining my flights on a preferred carrier and gaining the airline miles, I’ll now qualify for an upgrade or a free ticket.
Updated February 6, 2012 and originally published February 26, 2007. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.