I have this bad habit of waiting too long to buy airline tickets or lock in hotel rooms. In the case of Tunisair, the very purpose of my trip was nearly thwarted thanks to my procrastination and a horrible airline website.
Tunisair Website + My Procrastination = Bad Combination
I like to say “I know my space and my space knows me” but I’m very fallible and will sometimes err in calculating when to purchase an airline ticket. I’m certainly not one of those travelers who likes to lock in as soon as possible. Quite the contrary, I prefer to lock in as late as possible, especially when I am considering multiple destinations.
While in Tunisia, I certainly knew I wanted to fly home on Tunisair, but I also toyed with visiting Algeria as long as I was in the region. That dilemma kept me from booking my Tunisair ticket from Tunis to Montreal until I arrived at the Four Seasons Tunis and found…the flight was sold out.
When that happens, I don’t get afraid…that doesn’t even bother me because I figure, in most cases, people will cancel and seats will open up, especially in a (relatively) large business class cabin.
Sure enough, not more than a hour later the space did open and I went to work attempting to confirm it. But I didn’t except Tunisair to have such a horrible website. It is so clunky and prone to erring out.
Eventually, after failing multiple times to assign seats, I reached the payment page.
A call to Capital One did not fix the issue. They did not even show a charge attempt.
I tried again.
And then the space disappeared.
Interestingly, this space did not show up on any online travel agency – perhaps it was phantom in the first place.
So I headed over to Sidi Bou Said, with no ticket out and a hotel check-out scheduled for the following morning. It’s not like I could have just extended my stay for one night, since the Tunisair flight to Montreal only runs once per week.
While I was enjoying coffee, I checked space again on my phone and noticed three seats were suddenly available, and the lowest business class fare bucket had opened. Since Tunisair has no loyalty partners and I knew I would be taking the flight, I decided to book via a sketchy online travel agency called SmartFares. Doing so saved me about $130 over other sites (and $300 over Expedia or Orbitz).
This time, I had no trouble with my credit card and my ticket was soon issued.
I also had no problems during check-in the following morning.
I cannot pat myself on the back for this – I should have booked this tickets days in advance instead of waiting till less than 24 hours before. Considering economy class (which I probably would have taken had business remained full) was only $400 less than business class, I was fortunate more people did not book business on a nine-hour flight that went nearly 11 hours once our delay and headwinds were factored in.
And the Tunsiair website is really worthless: I tried very hard to book direct, but failed…and my credit card company did not even show a charge attempt. So be warned if booking on the Tunisair website, at least with an American-issued credit card. And do book a bit earlier than I did, at least when possible…