An Offer We Couldn’t Refuse

An Offer We Couldn’t Refuse

Travel is an adventure. Cheap travel is a natural high.

Last year, Linda and I hatched a vague plan to celebrate her birthday in Italy. And then we forgot – until I received this email:

Subject: LAX or SFO to Rome: $200-$300 Round Trip

I forwarded the email to Linda. Five minutes later, she called.

“Is this for real?” she asked.

I’d been receiving the Scott’s Cheap Flights daily newsletter for over a year, – but never had the guts to actually book one of their deals.

“I think we have to do this,” she said.

To Book or Not to Book?

I had to admit: A round trip flight from the West Coast to anywhere in Europe for under $1000 is really hard to find. Scott’s regularly features flights in the $500-$600 range. $300 sounded unreal.

“Is there a catch?” Linda asked.

There was no catch.

“Is it a legitimate airline?” The deal was offered on Lufthansa – but the actual flight would be on their partner airline, Swiss Air, which Conde Nast readers named one of their favorite airlines last year. So yeah – it seemed legit.

We looked at the fine print: Other than a short layover in Zurich, everything seemed kosher. And there was no nonsense about paying more to bring some luggage: both a checked bag and carry-on were included.

And did I mention that the price was under $300?

The deals on Scott’s sometimes disappear within hours, so we had to decide quickly.

We booked our tickets that night. Mine came in at $287 from LAX, and Linda’s was $289 from SFO. A friend of hers also jumped on it.

The one thing I did not think when I woke up that morning was, “I think I’ll buy a ticket to Italy.” Sometimes, life surprises you.

It Was All a Mistake – And That’s a Good Thing

The folks at Scott’s told me that what we got was a mistake fare: “when an airline or online travel agency (OTA) sells a ticket for significantly less than they intended.” If you book one, they recommend you give it a week before you spend any additional money on your trip – just in case the airline doesn’t honor it.

But Lufthansa was good as gold. Our tickets were issued right away. And that’s when we discovered that most of the cost went to taxes. The actual round trip flight from LAX to Rome was just $36.

So tonight, I’m taking off and meeting my sister tomorrow in Zurich. Then, we’re off to Rome.

Arrivederci!