One of the Most Racketiest of Travel Rackets?

the backstory

i was lucky enough to get in on the Emirates mistake fare last night and snagged a $450ish round-trip ticket from San Francisco to Tunisia (thanks, as always, The Flight Deal, who has enabled all of my upcoming paid international travel — 70% of my scheduled trips!). i was hesitant to book with Vayama since their cancellation policy is shitty — “case-by-case” handling if requested on the same date, and even then, $50 fee if they decide it’s possible/worth it. TFD told me the fares were also available on OneTravel, which at least gives you 4 hours to cancel for free, no questions asked (which i did, since i booked two dates and ultimately chose just one), so i went with them instead.

the racket

i noticed a big button on their confirmation/itinerary detail page that says Select Seats.


i figure that’ll just pop up a seat map like pretty much every other online travel agency. so i click and this window appears:


wait wait wait. you’re going to charge me $11.95 to let me choose seats, without immediate confirmation of said seats? ok, yes, you (now?!) get “Personal Travel Assistance” but i’m not sure that’s worth it. if you go with the free “unenhanced” route, you have to wait up to 48 hours (because it still goes to their “Seat Assignment Group” [?!?!?!]) before you know if it’s confirmed or not?


yes, that dreaded word “enhanced”, when, if you ever see it applied to anything travel-related, it’s probably going to be the opposite of an enhancement.

picking a seat — FOR FREE, RIGHT NOW

yeah, some effort is involved in finding the best seats; it’s best to do your research to figure out which is best for you, but you can do it for free. for a quick and dirty answer, i do rely on SeatGuru, but if i feel like investing more time, i check FlyerTalk forums to read up on the “Where to sit on a [insert aircraft here]” threads.

and here’s the thing — i think frequent travelers will have the same reaction as i do to this $11.95 charge, but more novice or timid ones might actually go ahead and fork over that money. as long as you don’t think you will need the travel assistance (and i can’t vouch for how good that service is, but if it’s as skeevy as this $11.95 charge thing is, caveat emptor, i say), just do it yourself!

they give you all you need right above the damn button, your airline confirmation number. just go to the airline’s website where in most cases you’ll be able to view and manage your reservation, including choose seats, or call up the airline and tell them which seat you want. easy peasy. and you’ll be $11.95 per person richer.

goodness. am i missing something here?!


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