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I am the travel planner in the family, and I don’t generally like to plan trips involving very complex routing. It doesn’t mean that I won’t plan for nested or open-jaw trips. I’ve done both. Unless there’s some substantial savings, I just prefer to travel efficiently from Point A to Point B. There is a personal reason too. I tend to fly the fewest numbers of segments whenever possible, due to ear pain I usually suffer upon flight descent. More on this in a separate post, but EarPlanes had been a godsend to me.
Eyebrow Raising Route
Apparently, I was unaware that I had an eyebrow raising route when I visited China for the first time last year. This was part of larger Asia trip, including flights to Seoul and Tokyo.
I needed to get from FOC airport to PEK airport. I had some BA miles and decided to redeem for flights on Cathay’s sister airline, Dragonair. At the time of booking, the only award option was FOC – > HKG – > PEK. It seemed like a good redemption option. I booked it.
When it came time to taking the trip, the first sign of confusion was when the taxi driver asked if we needed to be dropped off at the international or domestic terminal.
Instinctively, I said “domestic” but then remembered the connection is in HKG. I course corrected and let him know to drop us off at the International terminal. “Where are you going?” He asked. “Beijing”, I answered, without missing a beat. He gave me a quizzical look. “Why did you book it that way?” I was a little confused and didn’t know what he was getting at.
When I went to check-in for my flight at Dragonair, the staff asked me for my destination. “Beijing”. I then added, “with a connection in Hong Kong”.
She wasn’t particularly customer friendly. She paused what she was doing, looked up at me, and said blankly, “I’m not sure if that’s a valid routing.”
I thought to myself, baffled. “Why wouldn’t this be a valid routing if I can book it online?” The rep continued, “I’ll have to check with my supervisor to see if it’s a valid routing”.
Before I could say anything, she up and left and went to check with someone behind her.
I think I was sweating bullets at that point. It was the first part of a much larger trip and it would throw a wrench to my travel plans if we couldn’t fly out that night. And what in the world was wrong with the way I booked my trip? It seemed OK to me.
It was then and only then that it occurred to me. If you are going to be flying from one city to another city in the same country, why would you fly out of the country for a connection?
It finally dawned on me why both the taxi driver and the check-in staff raised their eyebrows at me.
What Happened Next?
After what seemed like a long time, the staff came back. It must be a valid routing, because without another word, she continued to check us in. Finally, she handed me our boarding passes.
I breathed a sigh of relief. Granted, I realized then that my routing was probably the least “direct” path, but it was the only award option available to me at the time of booking.
Family members later told me that they thought it was a strange routing too, but they thought I probably booked it that way because they figured it was the most economical option (indeed, that is true!)
I was glad it all worked out. I certainly didn’t want to be stranded at the airport trying to re-work my flight plans at the last minute.
My routing is relatively tame and it caused raised eyebrows. What were some of your more complicated routes you’ve flown? Did you get questionable looks from airline staff and others?