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Are your friends and family savvy with booking travel?

Are your friends and family savvy with booking travel?

Old Apr 16, 21, 1:45 pm
  #1  
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Are your friends and family savvy with booking travel?

Between a couple of different upcoming events, I've been working with various family and friends to get trips booked. It is simply frustrating. Just in the past week, I've had two different people, on two different trips, argue with me that flight and hotel bundles through OTAs are the best way to overcome expensive airfare. While absolutely refusing to listen that both items separately, add up to the same price (amongst other things). That wasn't the first time that happened. Won't be the last. Some people just lose the ability to think critically when they hear words like "bundle" and "included".

Had another friend book a one-way flight for $350 of his points because "he had points". He ended up taking a flight way too early, with a layover, while depleting a good chunk of his points. Pretty much one of the worst flight options for this trip. He believed this was the best choice because his flight was "free." We took $85 direct flights, with perfect timing, and a direct route. He flies often too so this wasn't even close to his only chance of using these points.

I have 1 friend who has any sense with this kind of stuff. We have both shared a lot of great things with each other and have had some awesome travel as a result. Not that I expect everyone to dedicate serious time to this "hobby". However, it is very frustrating trying to book group trips. Just like anything else in life, everyone considers themselves an expert, when they are far from it.
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Old Apr 19, 21, 7:40 am
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I converted a few of my friends years ago, but have long since given up trying. I have a few friends who accrue miles or points on credit card spend, but they will book willy nilly and are convinced that they got a great deal. I have many more that are envious of my "free" travel but won't listen to any suggestions about how they, too, could do it. It took years, but I finally realized that some things are better left alone.
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Old Apr 19, 21, 10:20 am
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Originally Posted by Super Mario View Post
Between a couple of different upcoming events, I've been working with various family and friends to get trips booked. It is simply frustrating. Just in the past week, I've had two different people, on two different trips, argue with me that flight and hotel bundles through OTAs are the best way to overcome expensive airfare. While absolutely refusing to listen that both items separately, add up to the same price (amongst other things). That wasn't the first time that happened. Won't be the last. Some people just lose the ability to think critically when they hear words like "bundle" and "included".
That's why it works for the OTAs - all in the marketing. But yes, it pays to do the research, especially if one has access to hotel rates that can often be cheaper than the standard price (Military/Government, AAA, etc.). My wife and I were recently browsing trips to Maui and the combined Airfare + Hotel bundles were outrageous and actually MORE than what we could book the hotel and airfare for separately (we ended up not booking a trip to Maui for other reasons).

Originally Posted by Super Mario View Post
I have 1 friend who has any sense with this kind of stuff. We have both shared a lot of great things with each other and have had some awesome travel as a result. Not that I expect everyone to dedicate serious time to this "hobby". However, it is very frustrating trying to book group trips. Just like anything else in life, everyone considers themselves an expert, when they are far from it.
It seems the family members with "some" knowledge can be worse than those with "no" knowledge. The ones with some knowledge think they know more than they know while the ones with no knowledge at least (sometimes) recognize they know nothing and are willing to listen. The other wild card is how price-conscious they are. If they're selecting solely on price, no logic about convenience or back-up options or anything else, even if just spending a few dollars more, is going to sway them another way.

I don't mind playing "Travel Agent" for family members and I don't mind explaining my reasoning or logic or them asking for clarification, but to avoid getting frustrated on the back end and to avoid feeling like I've wasted my time, I've found it helps to know what their preferences are on the front end before I begin the research; i.e. what is going to ultimately drive their decision. Are they someone who is going to take what I recommend and go with it? Are they someone who is simply going off price alone and thus it isn't going to matter what I say other than who is cheapest? I've simply come to accept that people will make their decisions off of what they value despite my best efforts to try to sway otherwise and all I can do is say "I told you so...." if their plans don't work out when they didn't take the advice they were initially asking for.

Originally Posted by StartinSanDiego View Post
I have many more that are envious of my "free" travel but won't listen to any suggestions about how they, too, could do it. It took years, but I finally realized that some things are better left alone.
That and also the family members/friends/others who don't realize that the "free" travel comes due to other "sacrifices" and/or job/lifestyle choices, in addition to being savvy and taking the time to really know the points/miles game. I'm not complaining about the road-warrior life-style myself as my spouse and I are both okay with it and enjoy it much of the time (and my "road-warrior-ness" is far from the levels of many other FTers) but the reason I've traveled to Europe and Australia and such on miles for "free" multiple times on points and miles is in no small part because my spouse and I spend many weeks apart from each other on the road for work while other family members who can seem "jealous" of us having these "free" trips don't ever have to travel for work. They don't see or want to see that there's a tradeoff (just like with many other aspects in life) - they just see that we can get "free" trips and they don't.
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Old Apr 19, 21, 11:26 am
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Most are pretty clueless. Presumably they're the types airlines love.
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Old Apr 20, 21, 4:37 am
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Suggested a family member check out Seat Guru. Their response was...."What!!!! There are different spacings between seats". An extra 1 inch seat pitch in economy can make all the difference!!!!!
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Old Apr 20, 21, 8:17 am
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Originally Posted by Annalisa12 View Post
Suggested a family member check out Seat Guru. Their response was...."What!!!! There are different spacings between seats". An extra 1 inch seat pitch in economy can make all the difference!!!!!
When I was in high school, two years in a row we took trips where when my parents were selecting seats while booking, I pulled up Seatguru and tried to warn them one of the rows they were selecting was one of the rows "Missing a Window". Don't know why they wouldn't listen (I even recall trying to show them on Seatguru) but they refused to listen so two years in a row, they put some of us in a row without a window (both times were on 767s and we were selecting two sets of two for the four of us). At least both times they admitted they erred and at least they did learn after the second time and began to listen more and ask me more about seat selection going forward.
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Old Apr 22, 21, 2:05 pm
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Most are comparatively clueless but at least with my immediate family they allow me to handle it and they don't complain.

I have one group of friends that does about one trip a year. Long ago, we agreed that we will all arrange our own flights on our own preferred airlines and meet in the destination city. We just agree on an arrival and departure date. That makes things easy. One guy is always Skyteam, I have a mix of OW and *A, another guy has home-grown credit card points, and another guys just booked cheapest coach seat no matter what. For one of our trips a few years back (MCI-MUC) I'm pretty sure we used all three alliances plus one dude stitched together a trip involving Norwegian. Just get to the hotel bar by dinnertime...or drop us a text if something got screwed up.

For this group, they let me handle the hotels. Usually book revenue rooms unless I have some dated e-certificates to burn. If I do that, I just "donate" them to the cause and people buy me beer. I'm okay with that. We generally reap at least some benefits of my hotel statuses...
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Old Apr 23, 21, 12:47 am
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The comparatively inexperienced ones usually call me before doing anything, especially when using points. But I have a niece who has flown a little and is now convinced that her favorite OTA gives her the best deals. When I try to help her, the response is "I do just fine that way," in her "you are old now, so I know better" voice. Still love her but have stopped trying to help that one.
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Old Apr 23, 21, 1:30 pm
  #9  
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My sister is the worst. She has low-tier status in one FFP. That drives her decisions a lot. I mean, there is a price that she finds prohibitive and where she chooses another carrier. Usually, though, she just books direct with her preferred carrier, sometimes switching the travel dates a bit if that saves money and she is flexible.

The thing is she keeps asking me for advice but never follows it. (We aren't kids; we both have been flying and working for some time.)

Apart from my sister, occasionally there are people that genuinely want advice on travel booking. When they ask, they tend to follow my suggestions. But most friends simply know that I'm a travel geek. When they bring up the topic of travel, they want me to tell them an anecdote--short and sweet--on my latest crazy mileage run or monster couponing doing. They're not interested in becoming more savvy about booking vacation travel.

Last edited by 8mh; Apr 23, 21 at 1:33 pm Reason: typos
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Old Apr 23, 21, 2:37 pm
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Originally Posted by 8mh View Post
My sister is the worst. She has low-tier status in one FFP. That drives her decisions a lot. I mean, there is a price that she finds prohibitive and where she chooses another carrier. Usually, though, she just books direct with her preferred carrier, sometimes switching the travel dates a bit if that saves money and she is flexible.

The thing is she keeps asking me for advice but never follows it. (We aren't kids; we both have been flying and working for some time.
Many of us on FT have higher level status and can tend to forget that even lower-level status within an FF program can be enough to take flying from "miserable" to "bearable/tolerable." At least for US domestic FF programs, even the lowest levels (DL Silver, AA Gold, UA Silver, AS MVP, etc.) offer decent benefits, from checked baggage allowance to preferred seat selection, priority at check-in, security, and boarding, upgrades to Comfort Plus, Economy Plus, Main Cabin Extra, Premium, etc. and sometimes discounts on advance purchases for C+/MCE/E+/Premium, a (supposedly) faster phone line (which can be useful in IROPS), and depending on your travel patterns, even occasional upgrades to F. Another big benefit is IROPS rebooking priority. One of my favorite cases as justification to myself for maintaining even low level status in a slower travel year is, even as a lowly DL Silver Medallion several years ago, I misconnected and was placed on standby for an alternate flight. 55+ people waiting on Standby for 3 seats on that flight. I was #2 on the list, cleared, and made it home for Christmas. 50+ had to find another way to get to where they were trying to go.

Conversely, every time I island hop in Hawaii on HA and have to do so without status, even if things run somewhat smoothly, I'm reminded of why even low-level status can make a world of difference, so in many ways, I can't fault your sister.
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Old Apr 23, 21, 3:43 pm
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Everyone else is the worst.... undoubtedly, because they don't hang out here on FT!!

Seriously, I was pretty good before but have learned A TON here about things. It does kind of make me a travel and booking snob. The top of the "worst" list is my wife. 95% of the time she's with me so it's no problem as I just book everything. On the rare occasion she's on her own it's a total disaster and I have to take over. Amazingly, she once traveled for a living for her sales job but apparently the people in her company did everything for her and just gave her confirmation codes, etc.
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Old Apr 27, 21, 12:59 pm
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The first time my (now) wife and I went away together was a weekend in Dublin. She booked the flights with Ryanair... so far, so good.

I jokingly said to her “I hope you spelt my name right” (it’s slightly unusual).

It’s a good job I did say that, because her reply was “oh, they didn’t ask me for your name!”.

I have made the arrangements for the subsequent 15 or so years...
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Old Apr 27, 21, 1:18 pm
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Originally Posted by ATOBTTR View Post
Many of us on FT have higher level status and can tend to forget that even lower-level status within an FF program can be enough to take flying from "miserable" to "bearable/tolerable."
This. I'm very hesitant to fly a legacy carrier with no status. (Fortunately right now for me, I only need to avoid Delta.)

Just the basics of being able to select a seat and, if I need to, check 1 bag are enough to turn a trip from miserable to tolerable.

Similar thing with hotels. Although none of the hotel statuses are worth a ton anymore (except perhaps Hyatt Globalist in certain situations), having Marriott Titanium or Hilton Diamond at least usually keeps me out of terrible hotel rooms. Same would hold true for any of the lower hotel statuses....they aren't going to yield upgrades but they'll hopefully get you a not-awful room.
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Last edited by pinniped; May 10, 21 at 4:27 pm
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Old Apr 28, 21, 5:06 am
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Except for my wife I am not the travel agent for my family and friends. If my wife and I are travelling I do the bookings in consultation with her but will never let her book a trip for us again after a booking she made put me in a middle seat on a TATL. Anyone else is on their own unless they ask for advice otherwise I keep my mouth shut.

Booking travel for a group of friends or family is a no-win situation. When I've done it in the past no one appreciated the effort or there were complaints about this or that.
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Old Apr 29, 21, 5:22 pm
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Originally Posted by Badenoch View Post
...after a booking she made put me in a middle seat on a TATL...
I had one like that...she booked a window seat and couldn't figure out why I didn't want to sit next to her.

That said, I am the organizer for work trips. Most of my team rarely travel by air outside of work and even then it is 1-2X annually. I just tell them when and where to meet. (Although I have convinced a few to enroll in TSA Pre-Check.) On the personal side, I have organized a number of road trips for away football games. Usually one of us is responsible for the hotel, one of us is responsible for transportation, and one of us is responsible for the 'big' dinner. The rule is if you don't want to plan, you can't complain (or don't go). It's been successful formula over the years.
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