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When Is a Travel Deal Not Really a Deal?

When is a Travel Deal Not Really a Deal: Lessons for Family TravelersThe frequent flyer miles and points community has been buzzing today about a $695 fare from San Francisco to Stockholm on American Airlines for summer travel.  The Flight Deal reported on the fare and one of my favorite Bay Area travel bloggers at Loyalty Traveler spread the word.

Since my husband and I have been contemplating taking the kids to Iceland or Scandinavia this summer, I furiously began searching for options that might work for us.  Unfortunately, I quickly realized that taking advantage of this deal required making two stops and approximately 24 hours in transit.  Take a look at some of these trip durations from one of my searches:

SFO to ARN screenshot

For comparison’s sake, I decided to price out alternatives.  A low cost carrier, Norwegian flies from nearby Oakland Airport nonstop to Stockholm.  Oakland is actually closer to where I live, so it’s even better than SFO for me.  The flight is only about 10 hours, and I found summer roundtrip fares not much over $900 for the same time period.  Norwegian is a low cost carrier so the uninitiated could be hit with extra fees, but my family would work around most of those (we’d likely check one bag). Here’s what a sample Norwegian itinerary looked like (note: prices are in Euros, but the exchange rate is amazing right now!):

Norweigian Screenshot

So, which one would you book?  For me, it’s a total no-brainer.  24 hours in transit with two stops would be painful enough for myself as a solo adult.  But with two young kids, it is a total deal killer.  I’d gladly pay an extra $250+ a ticket for a non-stop option.  Sometimes a travel deal just isn’t a deal when you look at the real cost: your time and perhaps your sanity.

This was a real reminder to me that family travelers need to be extra careful in booking travel based upon dollar cost alone.  If you have any flexibility in your family budget, sometimes it is well-worth paying a bit more (whether it be to take a non-stop flight, use a different airport, or use a different airline) to get something else much more valuable in return.

HT: Loyalty Traveler

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