Since the stores are quickly filling with elf-laden Christmas goods, my mailbox is daily inundated with gadget-packed catalogs and red and white striped candy canes have replaced the bags of fun-sized Halloween candy bars, the time to consider airline tickets home has come.
Probably six weeks ago, Thad and I started to talk about what time he would have off around the holidays and mentally planning our trip home to Idaho. At that time, I checked ticket prices and was pleasantly surprised to see flight prices for the week surrounding Christmas at nearly the same price as they were when I flew home this summer. Without knowing for sure which days he would be able to take off from his Chinese studies, we shelved ticket-buying until more concrete information was available.
About two weeks ago, FSI finally sent out a notice about the holiday schedule. Basically, students were told that they did not have to come to the facility each day for classes during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, but they were to create self-study plans and stick to them. On my first day of class this last week, the head of the Chinese department told us he didn’t care if we completed our self-study in our Oakwoods or on a cruise ship to Tahiti, as long as they were done.
The combined presence of holiday bedecked stores and a set travel window sent me scampering to the internet to book those tickets I saw weeks ago. Alas, it was not to be that easy or painless.
I was shocked and horrified by what I found in the vast cosmos of the World Wide Web. In the last few weeks, ticket prices from Washington to Boise have nearly doubled. Over the course of about ten days, I checked every possible ticket site. I dizzily circled Orbitz. My time logged on Expedia was anything but expedient. I Kayak-ed until my arms could no longer fight the white water of airline frustration.
I was thwarted at every turn as I tried to finesse dates, create wiggle room in times and expanded my search to airports that weren’t just a single Metro stop away. Each of these maneuvers got me no closer to a bottom line that came anywhere near acceptable.
After announcing that I no longer cared and we were just going to celebrate Christmas in the mo-partmet, China-style, I clapped shut the laptop and huffed off to bed in my pink, fuzzy monster slippers. I officially tagged myself out of this fight.
Imagine my surprise when the following day, as I purposefully avoided looking at airline ticket websites, I received a text from Thad saying he had the answer to all of our Christmas woes. The short story is that he had a classmate who won tickets through a drawing with a not to be named airline. This fellow Chinese studier and his family were going to be unable to use said tickets and he was willing to give those tickets to us. It just so happened that a few days after he gave Thad the tickets, Thad gave him a nice monetary gift, just for being such a wonderful student of Mandarin.
Our tickets are taken care of and I have spoken with my Nampa-based hotel concierge (she is nearing her third birthday and has a chocolate Hershey’s kiss and a room ready for me). It is now time to start gift shopping, which means another, more enjoyable, foray into the Never-Neverland of dot coms.