The mere act of purchasing a plane ticket to the other side of the planet gives me the same pleasure-filled adrenaline rush as I have heard some women experience when they buy a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes. For the same price, I get to play continental leap frog, while far better women than me get to wedge their way that much closer to the universal highway of bunion surgery. The climax of this experience is not impressing the world at large with how consumerist I look in my new shoes as I painstakingly try to avoid the puddles along the way to my parked Honda Civic. Rather, the thrill comes with knowing that in a few short weeks, I am actually going to be on top of the world. If there is one thing I would like to impress upon you all here, it is that there is simply nothing more glorious than when a girl gets to have great things beneath her. Some girls prefer shoes; I prefer...well...I think it's pretty obvious what I prefer here, now isn't it?
The other day, a friend of mine gave me front row tickets to hear Azar Nafisi speak. Nafisi is currently one of my favorite thinkers/authors, and I, of course, dropped everything to show up at the discussion. Ever the rational student, I took copious amounts of notes, all of the while realizing that I found everything she said absolutely riveting. At one point, a member of the audience asked her a question, "What is your favorite book?" At this, she drew back and laughed good-naturedly and said, "Well, it really is no secret. When it comes to books, I am very promiscuous."
I was instantly reminded of a discussion I had with one of my younger cousins a few months ago. Over coffee one afternoon, she asked, "If you had to pick your most favorite spot on earth, what would it be?" Similar to Nafisi, I gave her an answer by not giving her one. Next time, I'm just going to have to say, "It's really no secret. When it comes to finding places to love on the planet, I tend to be very promiscuous."
But come to think if it, I am fairly promiscuous with coffee shops too. I have more than 3 local favorites. And restaurants! Please don't ask me to choose one favorite style of cuisine. This will hurt the feelings of the others, and they are all so equally special and satisfying in my eyes. And bargain hunting?? Yeah... I'm a veritable crack-whore when it comes to getting a deal. Which brings me back to the airline ticket that inspired this post...
I'm not an emotional shopper. I may get emotional over good food, but I won't ever do this with money. And so I'm not one of these people who throws down her credit card for any old inter-continental flight. No. No, that would be boring and mundane. Rather, I prefer to stalk my fare and seize upon it at the penultimate moment, when the stars align perfectly in my favor. My secret is that I actually don't worry about star alignment. It's bound to happen. The tricky part is knowing when to recognize that the stars are aligned. Let me explain:
I found one reasonably priced ticket on a low-budget travel site. The problem is that the fare was non-negotiable and non-refundable. I could still fly on my precious British Airways miles, but if in the event of schedule change or family emergency, it was unclear as to how much financial burden would accrue against me. Hence, the stars were not aligned.
I then looked at every student travel site in my reaches. Again, cheaper tickets on Air France (I love the wine and cheese), but two unbearably long travel days, no chance for upgrades, and non-negotiable fares. No way.
As my mother would say, "Don't worry, honey, another bus will come."
So, I waited like an innocent-looking travel virgin housecat turned mouse predator in the field. By patiently and (unemotionally) observing the darting prices of competitive airline sales, my routine is to take note of the rise and fall of gasoline prices vis-a-vis the stock tickets of the airline industry. (A friend of mine happens to buy and sell the big airplane companies on Wall Street. She is a plethora of interesting information.) Aside from the stock market, I also keep an eye on political happenings. I hate to say it, but Condi Rice does wonders for plummeting the popularity of Middle East bound flights. The day that the news folks at AP reported that Hamas militants were loading up on missiles in Gaza and digging tunnels into Israel for a new offensive was the 12 hour window I knew I had to get a dirt-cheap fare, yet entirely flexible fare. And those 12 captive British soldiers in Iran brought down all British Airways flights to that part of the world by several hundred dollars. (Thank goodness for everyone that they were safely sent home, btw. Clearly, I couldn't do any traveling this summer if we were escalating to WWIII.)
Again, the point is not to worry if everything will fall into place. The point is to know when to recognize that the moment has arrived and not hesitate to pounce on it and hold it bloody and twitching in your teeth. Yum.
As always, British Airways came through, and I am now sitting back, fat and happy from the hunt.
I estimate that this coup d'etat should assure my faithful monogamy...for at least...oh...the next 8 months.