You may (or may not) have noticed, JP and I spent a few weeks in California last month. Visiting my home state after 8 months felt really good, as a bit of "homesickness" started to creep in. This is lucky for me, because our original plan was to visit sometime around Christmas. However, with one of my best friends tying the knot, we decided to move our trip up by a few months. None of this is really important other than providing context as to why we flew during one of the most expensive months of the year.
The evening we decided to book the tickets, we hopped on KLM's website to check the fares. Up until this point, we'd always flown with them and been completely happy and even enthusiastic with their service. Being spoiled humans, we didn't mind paying a few hundred euros extra for the direct flight and pleasant experience. However, just as we suspected, flying with KLM on a direct flight in early August was really expensive - somewhere in the range of 3400 euros (total).
So we looked into all of the major "saving" sites and ended up finding something acceptable on budgetair.nl. There were a lot of options in terms of connections and travel times (I will go into that later in this post) but we ended up choosing flights with one connection on United Airlines, both tickets totaling 1830 euros.
With so many flight options, we based our choice one three components 1) Price 2) Total travel time 3) Layover time.
If you haven't scanned "saving" sites for "cheap" tickets before, you'll see some flights with very low prices. It seems too good to be true, because it is. Often these flights have really, really long travel times. Something that you couldn't pay me to endure (ok, that might be an exaggeration but it's not something I would pay to do). Moral of the story is check the travel time first. Our flights had very reasonable travel times - 14 hours going to the States and 15 hours returning, which is only 3 and 4 hours longer than our usual KLM direct time.
The next component is layover time - I feel like this might be easy to overlook, especially if you've found a good price with a short travel time. We were "this" close to booking a flight when we noticed the layover time was something absurd - like 30 minutes! Based on our experience, this simply isn't enough time. Ours were around 1 hour each and that seemed perfect, however, I can't imagine the stress if something went wrong - so be cautious.
Part two will compare this flight to our experiences with KLM...