February 22, 2013

I am a travel agent

8 hours and a few minutes later, my credit card bill quadrupled.

The purchase was impulsive (contemplated for 2 weeks, confirmed in 3, and purchased the next morning, after 8 intensive hours of research).

The results surprised me. At first, I was looking for the cheapest price. I also had to fly into Hue. So, I used Kayak, and within in minutes, found a great deal. However, I realized that it was powered through  vayama, and I have never used the website before. I researched it, and it got mixed reviews. Before confirmation, they had some change policy and that worried me. I could have booked it and finished everything in 10 minutes, but I was not happy with it.

So, I decided to hunt on my own mimicking the itinerary given to me by Kayak. I then researched which way was better for purchasing tickets: direct airline or third party. I don't know why I even looked it up, because it really all depends and it's best to look into both.

I proceeded to Korean Air and searched the same times. The price was about 100 dollars more than Kayak's. But with this, I had to also look into getting a flight to Hue.

I checked Kayak for flights to Hue either at Hanoi or HCMC. Both were around $200 one way. That's so expensive! I went to Jetstar with no luck.

The only way to get to Hue was through Vietnam Airlines.

I then went to VA, and to my surprise, the tickets are significantly cheaper when you click on "Vietnam/English" as the country. They had 4 schedule flights daily to Hue, and prices ranged from $80-$40! However, the days were limited. So I used this to determine what day I should depart.

Since I had an estimated departure and return date, I searched through my favorite websites including STA, Student Universe, Orbitz, Expedia, Bing. That was time consuming. But it gave me a great picture of what I should expect in terms of arrival time and layovers.

United had really cheap flights, less than $1000! However, they all arrive to HCMC around 1AM. And there was no way I would stay at the airport overnight and wait for the next flight. I had to remember that a relative was picking me up, and I would not want her to go at such an inconvenient time. I eliminated United.

Korean Air had decent prices, with a 10+ layover at ICN. Of course, I was excited about this! After a long trip, I can take the subway to Seoul, jim chil bang, nap, relax, and meet up with a friend for AYCEBBQ, how great is that!?

Another option was an 8 hour layover in Taipei. Again, I got excited. Yeah, I would venture out just for some boba and food. But I researched China Airlines, and though it is fine now, it had a bad reputation a few years back. I didn't want to read into it, but a plane did crash and killed all the passengers... But that was a rare case. And they say flying is safer than driving, yet I'm always attentive during emergency procedures, even if it's the same every time.

And at this point (about 5 hours later), I panicked and thought "No, I can't do this. I will die. The plane will crash. OH MY GOODNESS, AMERICA is nice. I like my bed! I like my smart phone. I like wearing boots and clothes!"

It was 3am. I heard my mom wake up to use the restroom and I turned off the lights and pretended to go to sleep. I woke up at 11am.

I decided to book a flight with a layover in Taipei. I've never been, and spending 3 hours in the city is enough for me. Also, a pal of mine is currently there so I can meet up with her also.

I went directly to China Airlines because they had more options for departure times. Also, they and a lot of the Asian airlines only had it in military time, so this website was a lifesaver. The second step required that I put in a contact number from someone in Vietnam. My dad wasn't home, so that meant I had to wait until later to book it.


I decided to book through SU or STA, because they had better results, and I've booked an international flight with them before. Upon more searching, Japan Airlines popped up. 14 hour layover! And the time was great, morning until night. I started imagining myself in Tokyo for the whole day. How great would that be!? But... the arrival time in HCMC did not work out. It was too late.

Back to the Taipei/Chinese Airlines plan.

I went back to STA. The flight I wanted was gone. The remaining flights had a layover in Taipei, but it was overnight. WHY? WHY!

Finally, after altering my return date (arrival date I had to keep because VA only had specific days), I booked my tickets. One layover in Taipei for 8 hours in the morning to afternoon. On my return flight, another 8 hour layover, from the afternoon to late evening. 3 hours wait time in HCMC (perfect to get my Visa on arrival), and a convenient time for my relative to pick me up. Perfect.

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