Sep 162013

I know, I know…I’ve gotten way behind.  A few weeks ago I was in Nigeria (country #137 visited) for a few days with a friend and I owe a trip report for that one which I promise to get done soon.  All in all, it was a great trip!

Next trip is coming in just a couple of weeks.  It started as a trip to see the same friend while he does work in two more countries (Benin and Ghana) and I figured, while in the neighbourhood, I’d see a few more places.  Now, it’s turned into a six country trip adding Togo, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, and Niger to the list.  The rough plan is:

west africa map

One major challenge will be that a couple of the tickets can only be bought locally, so we will see if I manage to sort out all the plane tickets.  Of course, there’s also the issue that flights in this part of the world don’t always run so on time, so there will be that too.  Also, this assumes I manage to get all six visas on time.  It’s also the most number of airlines I’ve ever taken on one trip I think:

  1. Air Canada
  2. Lufthansa
  3. Brussels Airlines
  4. Air Cote d’Ivoire
  5. ASKY
  6. Air Burkina
  7. SWISS
  8. United

Of course, assuming everything works out….that will bring the total country count up to 143 visited…only 53 to go!

Sep 162013

Last week, there were a couple posts on Flyertalk about United selling tickets from San Jose, California (SJC) to Boston (BOS) for $0 plus tax. I saw them a couple minutes after the post, so went online to see if this might be valid to Washington as well. It was, and I quickly snapped up a few of them before thinking…I wonder if this is available to other cities as well. I decided to give DC to Honolulu a go, and what do you know…it came back for $7.50 with all taxes included. Turned out, it was all domestic tickets booked in K class.

One thing I’ve learned from previous fare errors is that when something looks too good to be true, it probably is, so buy it first and ask later. Especially since United allows free cancelations for 24 hrs for tickets booked on its website, there was really nothing to lose.

22 minutes later, it was all over. United had taken its booking system offline, and it was impossible to book tickets either over the phone or the website. This lasted for over an hour while the got the bug corrected.

It started hitting the media: first was an article in Forbes and then another on CNN a few hours later. Then, it was on the news too. I got several phone calls and e-mails from family and friends asking if I was “that guy” who got the DC to Honolulu tickets. Yup, guilty as charged…and from reading Flyertalk it seems at least one other person did as well.

The wait started…what would United do? All the armchair lawyers got online with their opinions about what would or would not happen. For 24 hours, we waited…and then, it was on Twitter and Facebook. United decided to go for the free advertising, and tweeted/posted that given these specific circumstances (aka don’t count on the same reaction next time) they would honour all of the tickets. w00t!

So in the end, I ended up netting 11 tickets for a grand total of $90 – 7 to California and 4 to Hawaii – not a bad deal at all! I wish I’d had more time, but still very happy with what I found. I would have, given more time, tried to plan a longer trip to Hawaii. Also, I would have tried to find the longest possible domestic route…something like San Juan, Puerto Rico to Guam – just to see if it was possible!

Now, it’s time to start traveling!