Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Booking Madness


Planning the summer 2013 trip for my mom, Aidan and me has been more stressful than I am used to. There are so many factors to look into that I haven't had to deal with before, such as my mother's health issues, predicted high crowd levels, and flight times/costs that were ... less than satisfactory.

I'd originally decided we'd go from June 3-June 6. The plan was to fly out early on June 3, leave our bags with bell services if the room wasn't ready, and hit Magic Kingdom. On our last day, we'd go to Animal Kingdom, and then fly back that evening. Sounds good, right? Adam and I have been doing that, or a variation of that, for years and it worked out fine.

Except the airlines would not cooperate. Well, I'd found a decent deal with Airtran a few weeks ago (just over $800 for the three of us round trip), but I didn't book it because things weren't finalized yet. Every week, I watched those fares creep up and up and up, and I decided to set up a watchdog for fares. When I got an email this morning with the right prices, I jumped on the chance. BUT. My original times? They were either sold out or SUPER expensive. I'm taking $300-$400 to fly one way. I was frustrated. VERY frustrated. And nervous. Because what if I kept waiting and ended up having to pay thousands for a crappy flight with connections and entire days of traveling?

Adam told me that it was way too early to book. That prices go up and down all the time. I was very concerned about the times I wanted being sold out, though, and those were the times whose prices were jumping up all the time.

When we took a trip around this time frame in 2011, the flights we wanted were going to cost us $1200 with Southwest, which is usually our first choice. Adam looked at other airlines and asked me how much would it cost to stay an extra night. Well, he'd found a flight on Airtran that flew in on Saturday night instead of Sunday morning, and round trip for me, him, and Aidan was just over $700. Even staying an extra night, we came out hundreds ahead. AND WE GOT AN EXTRA NIGHT AT DISNEY WORLD. It was a win-win!

And I wondered... could I possibly get that lucky again? So I played with the numbers. Found flights for the three of us for $662. $662 total round trip for three of us. Instead of flying in Monday morning, we'd have to fly in Monday afternoon BUT by adding an extra night (room only), I come out $200 ahead.

I worked and worked trying to figure things out. Naturally, the cheapest flights were to fly in late Monday and leave early Friday. That was not going to work because we'd miss an entire day in the parks. I ended up picking a midday flight to Orlando on Monday, and the last flight out to Chicago Friday night. It costed a bit more, but was worth it and much better than the $900-$1000 I was looking at the week before.

I was on the phone with Disney for 45 minutes getting everything set up. They were super helpful and nice. They shifted my original reservation to June 4-7, and added a room only to June 3. I didn't want the Dining Plan and park tickets for June 3 because I didn't see any point in wasting a park ticket on half a day. We can go to Downtown Disney, have dinner in the food court, and relax so we can be well rested for the Magic Kingdom rope drop the next morning. They also transferred me to Dining so I could change my reservations. On top of all this, they're running their Spring discounts on rooms and packages, and our stay falls right within the dates.

AND checking the crowd calendar on Easy WDW, it turns out that the shift in our vacation plans and days we visit which park works out in our favor. It will still be crowded, but slightly less in the parks we're going to.

I swear, this is the most math I've done in years. I don't even know if it was algebra or what, all I know is that it made my brain tired!

I'll write again soon with more of the nitty gritty details of the trip itself. It will be my mom's first trip ever, and I want to make it really awesome for her! :)

'Til next time.....

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