Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Violet Hour....

"This is the violet hour ... when the affectations glow and valor is reborn, when the shadows deepen along the edge of the forest and we believe that, if we watch carefully, at any moment we may see the unicorn."  (Photo is actually first early light south of Tokyo on approach to NRT #nofilter)

Yesterday was a big day.  Well, a big about 90 minutes.  What happened?  Glad you asked.... put up a flash sale for domestic tickets from several major hub cities, selling insanely discounted tickets for various dates through the fall.  I mean insanely discounted, "unicorns" if you will, like these:

LAX-ORD and return- $65
LAX-DFW and return- $71

That's round trip. All taxes included. Yes, for serious, I can even prove it:
Yes, I know this ticket goes to Chicago for 2.5 hours.  What's your point?

This is not the first time this has happened.  Last year I picked up a couple of $81 dollar fares to Chicago and used them to visit our favorite restaurant (The Green Zebra), and on a later trip meet up with a friend from law school for coffee & later a new traveler friend for drinks.  All in a day's trip.  As an aside, the name of this post, as well as being pertinent to the actual point of this entry, is also the name of a cocktail bar I really meant to go to with said travel buddy...but there was a line...and ain't nobody got time for that on a 'same day turn.'

I'm just going to pause at this point to address what any of the maybe... 5...on a good day, maybe, people who might read this and are familiar with the recent changes to the AA earning system's brains are exploding with at the moment.  Yes, I am painfully well aware of the changes going down on Aug 1 that will make these tickets virtually worthless in terms of redeemable miles (there were actual tears).  However, depending on my year, I very may well be in need of some cheap EQMs, and you can't do better than this.  Even with my anger at AA, I've resolved myself to "one more year" of going for EXP status, since I've come this far already.

So, that being addressed, to the point.  Fare deals like this one only come around once in awhile, and once it gets out to the flyer community the mad dash to pick up the one or two seats per flight that are being discounted per day, I can only compare the ensuing chaos of booking to my childhood memories of the annual county fair's "barnyard scramble." 

What's the barnyard scramble?  Glad you asked...

This was an event that entailed a flock of chickens, rabbits, and the like, being herded into the main event arena, to eventually be pursued by an equally disorganized heard of the young attendees of the fair.  The kids got to keep what they could catch while chasing, screaming, and shoving other kids out of the way.  It was insane (but fun, when you're 7), PETA-angering chaos.  As a disclaimer, I grew up in a pretty rural part of the country, and most of these kids' parents had a nice little farm that said captured animal would be going home to.

So, to the point yet again.  At the end of the about 60 minutes where I was still able to find these fares, I amassed about 8 or 9 bookings put on's 24hr 'hold.'  I barely knew what all I'd grabbed, forgoing the time to select seats in favor of putting google flights to good use. In the end I emerged with 4 Saturday same day turns, and two 2 night weekend trips that I managed to get two tickets on, so Mrs. CruisingAltitude & the new BabyFlyer can join in.  One of these even has an outbound on the 787 Dreamliner, making it even harder to pass up!

The result of the scramble...

Which brings us to what I've come to think of as The Violet Hour.  This is the sometimes stressful time at about 9 or 10pm the night that hold expires, where you suddenly remember you have to fish or cut bait on all those tickets you have sitting there.  This happens to me a lot, usually on things a whole lot more of a commitment than $64.60.  If I had a dollar for every time I'd gotten into bed, and immediately said, "oh &^#@*&, I still have those tickets on hold" I'd have like...a lot of dollars by now.  I find at this point a glass of wine helps...or a cocktail... depending on the ticket price and itinerary to help make the call.  You contemplate, plan, bargain, and think if you REALLY want to go to Chicago in November, Kuala Lumpur in the rainy season, or Hong Kong any time for 18 hours (the answer's yes, always yes to HKG). 
There is no bad time to go to Hong Kong.

This Violet Hour, I conquered the challenge.  I scrambled for those unicorns, and managed to go through with several Chicago turns, as well as picking up a longer visit to DFW so Mrs. CruisingAltitude can visit her sister for a few days.  It's even better when the deals actually take you someplace you need to be.  It should help me finish out my EXP for the year, and besides, who doesn't want to spend their Saturdays in airports and on planes!?! 

Come on, let's go!


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