I have recently confirmed the existence of a new travelers’ malady that I’ve name flight-booking anxiety, or FBA.
I thought perhaps I was the only one who experienced this disorder, but in conversations with a few people this week, I’ve confirmed that others (maybe most of us) suffer from the same problem.
My friend is flying to Rio de Janeiro in a few days. It was a last-minute decision, so she went online last night to hunt for the best price for an airline ticket. She visited numerous discount sites — Priceline, Cheap Tickets, Orbitz, Hotwire, Expedia — as well as the airlines’ sites.
“You name it,” she said. “I was there.”
Finally, she made her decision for an $800 flight that will take her from San Diego to Washington, D.C., to Rio de Janeiro. Then she had to finalize the decision.
“Oh, my gosh,” she said. “I got such anxiety when I clicked on that button to purchase the ticket. I felt like I was signing my life away. Selling my soul. There was no going back.”
All of this made her heart beat faster — one of the symptoms of FBA — and following that, my friend began agonizing over whether she had made the right choice.
Could she really afford to go to Brazil for three weeks? Was she going to regret her decision? Did she get the best price?
My friend already knew the answer to that last question; she got the best price on that day.
If she had just purchased the ticket two days before, she told me, she could’ve saved at least $250. However, a particularly strong attack of FBA prevented her from making the commitment at that earlier time.
I was sorry to hear that others suffer from the same problem I do, but I felt validated.
Every time I click that “purchase” icon, it’s a nerve-wracking experience. My biggest fear is that something will happen and I’ll have to pony up another $100 or $200 to change my travel dates.
It rarely happens, but not too long ago, it did.
A relative we had planned to visit died suddenly, so we decided to visit her husband a couple of weeks after the funeral when we thought he’d enjoy the company.
I chickened out on calling the airlines to ask for a ticket change without charge.
I sent in my daughter instead.
She’s a miracle worker when it comes to negotiating.
The airline employee on the other end of the phone grilled her about every detail –— even where my cousin’s obit appeared and the name of the funeral home.
She was on hold a long time, so presumably they checked out all the details.
In the end, my daughter got the dates changed without charge, so I owe her big.
It’s also possible to bring on an FBA attack without even buying a plane ticket.
Just bring up the subject of travel and you’re sure to get a good discussion going on the costs of flying. People will either joyously brag about the deals they’ve scored, or moan about the prices they had to pay.
Someone who isn’t fond of traveling asked me recently why I “put up” with the inconveniences, hassles and anxieties of travel. I answered that most often there are few other options for “getting there.”
Then she said, “I don’t get why you have to go and see things anyway. You can stay home and watch the Travel Channel.”
To that, I had no answer. If she didn’t already understand, she never would.
E’Louise Ondash is a veteran, award-winning journalist who was an investigative reporter, feature writer and columnist for the Times Advocate and the North County Times. She has written travel features for The Coast News since 2003.