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Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Trains, Planes and an Automobile.

The title translates into "Mamma is coming to visit" which translates to "we have booked our tickets" for the trip home in November.

I did not realise booking air tickets was as complex as a ticket to ride the UK trains. For sure I have become accustomed to the idiotic pricing, having travelled from afar over the years to visit family leaving the boat in a marina. As an example, a 2 hour journey south from Stafford is £19 ($29) with the option to return anytime within 28 days. The same destination but from Rugby (a one hour journey) is £25 ($37). I spend less time on the train and get charged more!!!

Anyway, back to number 2 in the post title: those metal birds flying high above the Atlantic. Thinking about it, they are like narrow boats filled with seats and wings attached.
 Now having flown the Atlantic several times in my pursuit of true love, the idiosyncrosies of flight booking have become easier. Jaq has a bias on flying American carriers.  Her country`s desire to police the world makes her feel vulnerable.
 So with Jaq`s wishes in mind I have managed to book British Airways flights across the Atlantic without having to book direct with BA.  Air France and KLM are other choices, but usually involve going via Paris or Amsterdam. I managed-- by varying time and date of departure in my flight searches--to find flights that although state an American airline are on closer inspection operated by BA, but not at BA prices.

We have 4 airplane journeys £764 ($1146) total per person.  More than 50% is tax and airport fees!
1.  London ----Portland(Oregon)
2.  Seattle------Spokane
3.  Spokane----Seattle
4.  Seattle------London
British Airways wanted £716 ($1074) just for journey 1 and 4 and this was NOT direct to Seattle with a hitch on Alaska Airlines to Portland. It was on an American carrier and went via Dallas with a long layover. Also they wanted £724 ($1085) for part of 1 and all of 4, i.e. a London-Seattle return.  For some reason they couldn`t quote for 2 and 3 operated by Alaska Air at £119 ($178) booked direct. So to book via BA then, with Alaska brings the price to £835 ($1242) or even more if........enough--I`m getting confused.
My point is, don`t take what you first get quoted.
 Also the BA air miles scheme has been changed and is now Avios points. To try and use our Avios points to upgrade means we need to almost buy the plane to get enough points. Dad always said you get nowt for free. Maybe we can use the points for car hire; must check that on the website.
All the four trips are on different days with train rides or car hire between  trips. So back to the train part of the post title and the 2 Amtrak trips which are for fun. We thought this would make a nice break from hiring a car. The first one is from Portland to Tacoma $26 (£17), 2hrs 15mins  and the second Tacoma to Edmonds, Seattle $14 (£9) 1hr 28mins. See how the fare/time on train ratio is more sensible compared to my UK example.

Number 3 in the post title is the car, and for a 14 day hire via Budget USA, £264 ($390) is just slightly cheaper than Budget in the UK. A Ford focus is the car in the quote that we might book. I did have reservations about any excess on the insurance. It says it comes with (CDW) collision damage waiver; I`m told this means no excess to pay if I happen to either scrape it or get into an accident. Any U.S. readers with some knowledge of this please let me know. 

I do hope this post is not to confusing but Jaq and I just want her friends and family to know we will be home in November and to show the price variations here and in the U.S.


John Witts said...

The last proper holiday Jackie and I had was courtesy of BA.

Jackie had loads of airmiles (this was long before the Avios re-branding...) and was offered two return tickets to New York or a case of frankly indifferent wine....

Big Apple here we come!

While we're there, I said, could we possibly take a train trip somewhere? Montauk? Martha's Vineyard? Pennebunkport?

Well, the trip grew like Topsy. Jackie got onto 'The Man in Seat 61' website....

We ended up crossing The States by train: 'Lakeshire Ltd' from NY to Chicago, then 'The California Zephyr' to just south of San Francisco.

What a brilliant trip! And So-ooo-oo much nicer than flying!

Dragontatoo said...

Just be aware that train trips out of Portland are subject to cancellation if they do not have enough passengers to warrant running the train or if they are doing "maintenance" on the tracks. Not sure how popular that Portland to Tacoma trip is but on several occasions when my sister in law was trying to take the train from Portland to Spokane they cancelled it and put her on a bus...

kim said...

I have to admit I am a bit confused. I am glad that you will be here in the states and then les maybe you can try to explain it all to me. Have a safe day. kim

Les Biggs said...

seat 61 is a good site. The change to Avios was mentioned in the Guardian
Just another stitch up of the general piblic.

Les Biggs said...

Hello Jesseca/Dragontatoo
We are not using the Portland to Spokane train so hope all will be ok. The Tacoma train runs up from California into Canada so should be a well used line.
Mom says give the kids a hug for her.
Les X

Les Biggs said...

Hi Kim
not sure of our schedule in Pullman but perhaps we might get a chance to explain all over coffee.

Pit said...

A very interesting article. It's always difficult to get a good airfare, isn't it? I myself prefer Lufthansa, not because it's the carrier of my native Germany, but because they always have 4-engined planes across the Atlantic - which gives me a safer feeling.
Have a safe and enjoyable trip!

Les Biggs said...

I had not thought of the 4 engine view. The 2 engine planes always make me appreciate the skills of the men who built the engines.
Mercedes trucks were my choice when buying in my working life.

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs