Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Emigrant's Dilemma, Chapter 2: One Wing Down

Okay, I'm happy to report that as of this morning, I've got one part of this upcoming journey, which is only the prelude to moving, fixed: I've booked myself to Marseille.

For those who are interested in the ins and outs of travel within Europe, I'll set down how I did this. I started by going to this site, which has all the cheapo airlines: Ryanair, eaSyjeT, Berlin Wings, and so on. It proved a little less than satisfactory: the search results came up with the starting-point and destination reversed, and then there were links for each airline. But those budget outfits sometimes have only one flight a day, and, serving peripheral airports a lot of the time, you can't always coordinate them. Thus, I could fly to London Gatwick on one budget flight, but then I'd have to connect an hour and a half earlier to one out of Luton. Which, not quite yet being the master of space and time I aspire to be, I just couldn't do.

So I ran the changes at Mobissimo, a pioneering early search engine, which has the disadvantage of not including the Ryanairs of the world in its search. BA came up cheapest, but running a close second was Brussels Air, which is part of what became of Sabena when it fell apart. And I discovered I could get a flight out of Berlin at a convenient hour, make a quick transfer in Brussels, and then be in Marseilles in time for lunch, all for less than €200. Of course, I realized too late, I'd also be in time to make a leisurely transfer for my flight to Morocco, had I booked it on the right day. So now I've added the price of a hotel and a couple of meals to the trip. Stupid.

But one thing I can do is use Mobissimo to check out hotels in Aix and Marseille, or maybe even Priceline. That's going to have to wait, though, until my bank account fills up again. I'd forgotten how expensive euros are for those of us who earn in dollars.

I also checked flying back from Montpellier and discovered that not only could I fly Ryanair for free (plus 29 euros tax or something and a few more in charges, so no, not free), but I could even switch to Germanair or something for another 39-euro flight. I'm considering it, but I hear too many horror stories about Ryanair, and I might well need the relaxing train ride to contemplate whatever decision I wind up making in Montpellier.

Next up: train from Marseille to Montpellier, hotel in Montpellier, scrounge local parks for beer bottles to turn in for deposit so I can raise the dough to get the apartment.

But at least the first half of the prelude is written.

5 comments:

gary etie said...

Ed,

Kayak is also a good one. This search shows the same Brussels Air flight for Berlin - Marseille , leaving from Tempelhof.

I don't think Kayak includes Ryanair in its results, but I don't consider that as a negative.

Patricia and I used Ryanair for a $5 Perpignan, France, to London flight, last year, after spending time in the "Three Valleys" region of the Pyrenees, where my Cajun great-great grandfather was born and raised, and I remember thinking that, all things considered, the never ending inconveniences and hassles associated with the details of the Ryanair flight was NOT worth the savings.

gary

SeanM said...

Ryan Air? I have flown them twice. Or rather, tried. The first time was from Düsseldorf Weeze to the UK, and the flight was canceled due to heavy snow. But instead of refunding us immediately, they tried to tell us to drive to Frankfurt Hahn and get a flight there. Problem with that is that the drive would have been 3 hours. After some arguing we got refunded.

The other time with Ryan Air was OK and without incident.

Karl-Marx-Straße said...

Ryanair? Nasty, but cheap. Unless you actually want to go to the places that the airport you land at is supposedly near. So nasty and not very cheap either. The Kaffeefahrten of the air.

When I compare flights, I use (first) the Deutsche Bahn site (via "Reisebüro"), find the cheapest ones, and then check the airline sites themselves. Sometimes DB is cheaper.

I recently discovered that Berlin (Tegel, not Tempelhof, unfortunately) to London (City Airport) with Lufthansa is pretty cheap, should any readers want to go there. If you want to actually take luggage with you *and* go to London itself, it can often work out cheaper than Ryanair's "free flight plus taxes and charges". I was searching for mid-June. (Incidentally, buying direct from lufthansa.de on those flights was, when I checked, around 1/3 of the price demanded by any of these price comparison websites, or the DB flight database). 80 Euro return including everything TXL-London City ("Economy basic light" online fare only, no refunds, changes 50 Euro). Not bad. I might try flying again...

Ed Ward said...

That's actually a good tip, K-M-S: when I used Mobissimo to compare prices/find flights, I noticed the Brussels Air flight, then went to their website and saved even more than if I'd gone through one of the "cheap flight" websites. The big trick is finding who flies where when. Once you've got that info, the airline's own site is almost always cheaper.

Karl-Marx-Straße said...

Almost always. Though I once bought a plane ticket from Deutsche Bahn for Berlin-London with British Midland or someone and phoned them up to ask what form of student ID I needed for their extremely cheap student-only fare (a fare they didn't seem to sell themselves). They were more than a bit bemused and I suspect I was the subject of some coffeebreak small talk ("Some English idiot phoned us up and wanted to know what student ID he needed - for a ticket he bought from German Railways! What a fool! When I told him repeatedly it was the wrong number and this was an airline he just got rude and angry! In his foreign accent!")