Wednesday, 13 August 2008

First Meeting - Booking Flights

Today, Ruth Dass and myself visited Brian Lewis in Pontefract, to discuss the project and the travel. Each of us told a little about their individual story, so as to get acquainted better. Brian gave an introduction to the beginnings of the project, shown here in this video:

We then tried to coordinate the flights. I had been a bit fast: the day before, after a few email correspondences back and forth, I had booked my flight on Emirates Airways through the web site, which seemed to offer great rates. However, when we tried today to get the remaining flight tickets, we encountered a few hurdles: on Southall Travel, there was no more any offer for my particular flight route. Instead, the lowest fare was almost 200 pounds higher than for what I had booked. So we tried directly with Emirate Airways, and yes, there were flight tickets available at the same low price. However, I had to overcome several obstacles: the Emirates flight booking site appeared to be very "impatient"; I had entered the data quite slowly, and after about 10 minutes I encountered a "session expired" and had to start all over again. Then, after entering all 3 passengers, there was a problem regarding the payment: Emirate Airways does only accept credit cards, not debit cards, for the online payment. Also, the credit card must be in the name of one of the passengers... this was a major issue. After finding the local office of the Emirate Airways in Manchester (is well hidden on their web site, as no direct contact phone number is provided on the main page), we try to book the flights by phone. Yes, they accept payment with a Maestro Debit Card - but the flight price is more than 200 pounds higher than on the web! We receive the advice to book online and use the option of picking up the airline tickets at the airport in Manchester. Finally this works ok, and after one more "session expired" we finally have booked additional 3 flights. For some reason, these three could already reserve their seats... while I was not given this option. This will teach me not to book early and use an intermediate travel agent!

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