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Loose rivets
3rd Oct 2013, 22:31
To my considerable surprise, I find myself wanting to go back to Texas. Not for long - back home in the spring. The Rivetess just Skyped me. She's down the road, but we may maintain a truce long enough to travel together - the savings tend to aid the logic.

She's a brilliant office administrator, and has years of experience in finding flights on line. These skills seemingly, are of no use in a world that allows mainframe algorithms to rule humans with an almost sadistic determination to fcuk up their lives.

Time and again AA and BA allow a selection, and then throw it out at the last press of a button. Calling them to do the job means a small levy . . . no, wait! It means a small levy plus a much more expensive ticket. Where the hell did they learn to do this . . . Ry-on air? (My very first experience of prices rising in the minutes taken to phone my airline for the okay to buy a crew travel ticket at a given price.)

Anyway, I need to get to Dallas early in November, and then on south to McAllen. Aged bones stop multiple changes - even one is a trial. Done it a dozen times, but now it seems impossible.

It won't be long before the messing with buying a ticket will exceed the time of flying the Atlantic.

Anyone got any ideas? (I couldn't find the thread of a few days ago with a similar question.) Just how hard can it be?

Airborne Aircrew
3rd Oct 2013, 22:52
Anyone got any ideas?

Take a cab?;)

TWT
3rd Oct 2013, 22:57
Travel agent ?

Gertrude the Wombat
3rd Oct 2013, 23:04
It won't be long before the messing with buying a ticket will exceed the time of flying the Atlantic.
Ah yes, back to the days of hours spent in a travel agency - I always reckoned they aimed to keep you there for ten minutes longer than the flight.

Just like wedding photographers - however sort or long the ceremony, the photographer takes ten minutes longer.

Gordy
4th Oct 2013, 02:11
Try Expedia..... I use it for all my business and personal bookings. Best out there.

finfly1
4th Oct 2013, 02:51
My travel arranger uses Orbitz. This has usually proven to find the least expensive flights between city pairs, but not without multiple plane changes, which, like you, I find increasingly unpleasant. Flexibility in travel dates of a few days can make an enormous difference in the cost of an airline ticket.

In the time when I was doing more trans Atlantic travel, Icelandair often had fares way lower than competition. On my most recent, if not my last, crossing, AerLingus was way less expensive than the other name brands.

Cheaper, too, was Air India, but numerous others with shared experience on that airline, coupled with my own experience on Air Malaysia, made that contender a non-starter.

SASless
4th Oct 2013, 03:02
Heavens.....travel with the Ex.....to McAllen?

You should relish multiple stops as it would appear you do enjoy misery!:ugh:

I would just soon hire a Rental Car in Dallas....and drive to/from McAllen.

Make it a scenic tour....hit some of the pretty country along the way....get some BBQ Brisket....take in some of the sights.

I used Kayak today....and it worked fine.

ChrisVJ
4th Oct 2013, 06:14
Mrs VJ too is a tireless purchaser of tickets on line. I do believe some of the airlines are using the same algorithms that the hotels in Las Vegas appear to use. The prices vary as the rate of bookings for any particular day or flight.

She often tells me she has found a price and then ten minutes later it has gone up a chunk. If we wait a day or so it usually comes back down again.

Flexibility in dates is also a key. If you can travel a few days either way you can usually get a cheaper flight as the bookings on a particular day slow down.

fireflybob
4th Oct 2013, 06:17
I find Trailfinders are brilliant. For one thing you can talk to a human being on the phone without lots of infernal menus. They actually listen to what you as a customer wants and then work on getting it. Also they were voted number one in Which? Magazine recently.

moosp
4th Oct 2013, 08:56
I have a theory that the algorithms of these airline web sites know who you are by the cookies they leave, so when you come back after shopping around they sting you with a higher price.

We did an experiment one day with two computers, on one we logged in to price a ticket on xyz airlines, then logged off, then five minutes later logged on with the same computer, and the price was up considerably.

A second computer, and the first using a VPN directed from a different country got the original price again within five minutes.

To stick to the thread, the cheapest airlines are cheap for a reason. Spend a little more and get proper service, you can always eat oats for the rest of the winter.

ExSp33db1rd
4th Oct 2013, 09:16
I have a theory that the algorithms of these airline web sites know who you are by the cookies they leave, so when you come back after shopping around they sting you with a higher price.


It's like looking at an item in a shop that has been there for a long time, the minute you look at it, and turn away to consider your options, someone else picks it up and buys it.

Loose rivets
4th Oct 2013, 09:47
Thanks for the replies. One has forwarded (most of them) to the Rivetess.


Scenic tour? Mmmm . . . It's the GPS that's the worst. Continue for 187 miles. At that point, there's a crossing . . . with no cars, ever.

Oh look, there's a cow.

It's a buffalo.

One hour goes by.

That's a nice patch of grass.

Mmmm

Another hour goes by.

Oh look, a nodding donkey.

Mmmm

Two hours later.

It's incredible to think anyone could live in a shed like that.

But they've got a cow.

Mmmm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and a nodding donkey for their water.

Rivetess texts for next hour.

Oh look, a bend in the road.

Yes, nearly 5 degrees. How exciting!

Look, a bush.

Yawn.

OFSO
4th Oct 2013, 13:31
Mr Rivets: last Saturday I spent six (6) hours booking

- wife to London via SNCF to Paris and onward with Eurostar
- myself to London via SNCF to Paris and onward with Eurostar a week later; and after two weeks in The Smoke,
- both back here via Eurostar to Paris and onward with SNCF

So that's three journies each involving two trains. I do this booking every two months. I have never known it take so long to book. Six hours ? The blasted train journey only takes nine hours. I could have been in Brussels by the time I hit "print tickets" although God know why anyone would want to be in Brussels in December. Gluhewein mit Mussels and Pommes, maybe ?

What cretin designed the Eurostar website ? Enter one senior (I know, I know, but times are hard, although the senior rarely is) and the site replies "PASSENGERS = 0. YOU MUST ENTER AT LEAST ONE PERSON." If only. Enter One Senior again. This time ? Yes.

SNCF isn't much better: Enter first class for both trains and you get demoted to second class on both as "not all your requests can be met on one" although book both segments separately as first class and you get them.

I won't go into website drop-outs or payment denials and double payments (you REALLY have to look carefully at the price on the final "pay now" page.) But it took six hours. Seemed like sixty. Plus ten sheets of paper and two pencils.

And on and on and bloody on. Say what you like about Ryanair and Easyjet, at least their websites work and are easy to use.

YES ! I'm saying something nice about Ryanair ! Landmark Day.

SASless
4th Oct 2013, 13:46
Rivets.....you must not have been around the Texas Hill Country, tasted Rudy's BBQ Brisket....done the San Antonio River Walk....found Utopia.

Austin has some good nightlife.....if a bit infested with young Liberals.

Why in hell anyone would want to go to McAllen defeats me.

From your response perhaps it is easier to grasp your refined taste affords you to fully appreciate such a place.....as most folks are trying to leave there for anywhere else.

Capetonian
4th Oct 2013, 13:48
One of the many things the French are spectacularly bad at is designing websites that are easy to navigate and function (and yes I do speak their bloody language when I have to.)

Rather like their cars, and their women, they have to tart everything up in a misguided attempt to make it look good, and cover it all in fancy bells and whistles and useless gimmicks that nobody wants.

The only EU railway websites I've found worse than the SNCF are Trenitalia and the Greeks. The best, predictably, are Home | NS (http://www.ns.nl) and SBB: Der Bahnhof im Internet ? Fahrplan, Billette, Abos, Ausflüge (http://www.sbb.ch), with Deutsche Bahn not far behind.

OFSO
4th Oct 2013, 16:06
The only EU railway websites I've found worse than the SNCF

RENFE, of Spain, is also poor. Tells me stations don't exist when I KNOW they do, yes, really, I've been to see them. Big stone buildings with iron rails down the middle. And I've got on a train from Port Bou to Figueras, stopping at Vilajuiga, which didn't - we went thru Vilajuiga at 60 kph which made disembarking a tricky business. Took me four hours to walk back from Figueras along the tracks.

Germany used to be bad in the days of ticket offices. My parents used to come from England and see me when I was living in Darmstadt. But you could not buy a ticket to Darmstadt in the UK, because it didn't exist, so they used to buy tickets as far as Mainz and bribe the ticket inspector to let them stay on the train - the same train - as far as Darmstadt. It went on to Heidelberg, which sometimes didn't exist, especially if the weather was hot, and then to Karlsruhe, which never existed at the weekend.

radeng
4th Oct 2013, 16:28
It is an endearing characteristic of glorious website technology that the following rules appear to be universally applied:

1. Any website that is working requires 'updating', such that features no longer work, or cause the computer to crash - or both.

2. Any change to a website will remove any functions of which the use is intuitive.

3. If Rule 1 above cannot be applied, a completely new website must be produced to replace the one that works on the basis that the 'software can't be supported economically': the results will ensure that Rules 1 and 2 are met.

Gertrude the Wombat
4th Oct 2013, 20:00
So that's three journies each involving two trains. I do this booking every two months. I have never known it take so long to book. Six hours ? The blasted train journey only takes nine hours. I could have been in Brussels by the time I hit "print tickets" although God know why anyone would want to be in Brussels in December.
For that one I'd actually wander down to our local station and get Osama (yes that really is his name) on the international ticket desk to sort it out for me. Then for repeat bookings a simple phone call "hi Osama, same again please for next Tuesday" should do it. Around 30 seconds.

Windy Militant
4th Oct 2013, 22:38
At work we now have to use a central services system, a complete dogs breakfast, designed I think to make the staff either leave or commit suicide due to the utter frustration of using the :mad: thing.
Despite being impenetrable to use and a litany of faults, we received the results of a satisfaction survey that said 72% of us were delighted with the thing. The same week that several of my colleagues, having been moved from Windows XP to Windows 7 discovered that it wouldn't work on the latest version of Internet Explorer.
During the training we were given when the system was deployed were told that the system was specifically designed to work on IE and would not work with Firefox or Chrome.
It was found the only way to get the system to accept input was to switch between IE and Chrome as you moved through the task at hand:ugh:.

OFSO
5th Oct 2013, 06:32
I'd actually wander down to our local station

With journies starting in France, I'd have to drive to France to do that. Ticket office at Perpignan station is extremely helpful and indeed I use it now and then when I get a discount voucher. If a TGV is a few minutes late in arriving you are met as you disembark by a lady handing out prepaid complaint envelopes with letters to send in and get a discount off your next trip - usually around €20-€30. Which is quite a break when the entire fare for the five hours first class to Paris is only €40.

Lon More
5th Oct 2013, 11:08
the entire fare for the five hours first class to Paris is only €40.
SNCF remains under government control! Compare that with the more than £50 for first class London to Dover (nearly 2 hours to travel 70 miles ) on Southeastern. For that I'd accept a lot of hassle on a web-site.