The Curse of the Airfare

I don’t know when time started to speed up, but in the past few years I’ve noticed that once school begins in September, the events start coming fast and furious. Just as we finally get settled into a routine for school, it’s time to start thinking about what costumes my kids want to wear for Halloween. And if Halloween is here, well then Thanksgiving and Christmas can’t be far behind.

I feel a vague sense of dread and overwhelm when I think about the amount of extra work that goes into each holiday season. Cleaning, cooking, shopping, decisions, holiday cards, the list goes on. Good thing, duty cleaners offer amazing cleaning services for those who are too busy to keep a clean house. If you’re interested in their services, go here But there’s one task I dread more than any other, so much so that even just thinking about it right now makes my stomach clench. Buying airline tickets.

My family follows an “every other” pattern. One year we spend Christmas with my side of the family and then the next year we celebrate with my in-laws, and the same system applies to Thanksgiving. It’s a way of ensuring that I’ll see my entire family for at least one major holiday a year. The challenge is that one sister lives in Ohio and the other in Florida, so usually getting together involves me flying somewhere.

Each year, after we’ve decided where to hold the festivities, I navigate to my favorite travel site, Travelocity, to get a first glimpse of the fares. This is where the dread begins. Will the fares be reasonable? Will they be non-stop? Will I have to get up at 5 a.m. with my kids and drag their asses to the airport half asleep holding their bed rest pillow because that was the best deal I could get?

Ok, so I get the flight information, and then, I go back and confer with everyone. Will these dates/times work? After much back and forth between my sisters and my husband, I log back on to book the deal. If my stomach was clenched before, now it’s downright upset. I know what’s going to happen even before the webpage finishes refreshing – the prices will have gone up. It literally happens to me Every. Single. Time.

In these moments I feel tremendous frustration and disbelief. “Really? Again? The prices went up in just 24 hours??” It happens to me so frequently that it’s freaky. I feel powerless in the face of it, like I’m in one of those dreams where I know I need to get somewhere important, but no matter how much I try, or walk, I can’t get there. (Now that I mention it, that’s pretty much exactly what’s happening.)

After each one of these purchase attempts, my sisters and husband can reliably depend on me ranting and raving about how “I Just Can’t Believe It Happened AGAIN!” (They probably dread my phone calls as much as I dread purchasing the tickets.)

I’ve decided that this recurring experience is spawned from one of what I call my “hard core beliefs”. The ones where, no matter what I do – be it shifting my thinking, taking a different approach or releasing it by way of any of the many techniques I’ve learned during my journey of transformation, it still happens. Having prices go up on me is just one of a selection of “hard core beliefs” I have. Another popular one is just missing out on parking spaces. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve driven up the street looking for a spot and see either someone just pulling in, or just getting out of their car.

Because this happens so predictably in my life, I have lots of opportunities to examine it. I notice that the conversation in my head goes something like, “Forget it, flights are always so expensive.” “Flying is so difficult these days.” ”I always miss out.” “Why didn’t I start sooner? I’m so disorganized” “They’re out to get me.” “This happens every time!!!” and “I’m cursed!” These are all stories that I have made up to help me understand why this is happening.

While researching this topic, I found this tidbit of wisdom in an online forum about changing beliefs:

“You hold beliefs because they were useful in the past.

Examine your belief and work out why you hold it.

You then need to fill the gap that the belief filled.

If you do not fill this gap, then you will keep needing the belief that you want to get rid of.”

When I look at the list of beliefs I stated above, one stands out: “I always miss out.” That one also relates to my other consistent experience of missing out on a parking space.

So I ask myself, why do I hold on to this belief? I think for me it has something to do with a historical experience of isolation while growing up. I didn’t get to spend much time with friends going out and so every time a social opportunity came along that I couldn’t participate in, I felt like I was missing out. Coupling this with the difficulty of making arrangements (most of my friends lived miles away from me, since I grew up in a rural community), I spent a lot of time feeling helpless and at the mercy of other people/situations.

As an adult, I understand that I have choices about what I believe and how I let situations affect me. I get to let go of the notion that I’m on the outside looking in and know that I have the resources and wherewithal to handle what comes my way. In particularly difficult situations like this one, I first work to neutralize my response, saying, when and if it occurs, “This is the part where the price of the tickets is going to go up.” This allows me to stop resisting and proceed the best way that I can.

I recently got a powerful lesson regarding how attached I am to my beliefs and being right about them while discussing a challenge I was having with rising airfare with my husband. He remarked, in a very matter of fact and logical way, “Probably what’s happening is that when you do a search for a flight the travel site tracks that, and when you log back on again 24 hours later to do the new search, it presents you with a higher fare because it knows you are ready to buy.”

Wow. You mean that it’s not because I’m cursed? It could simply be a matter of technology and (gasp) could be happening to everyone else just the same way? I was so taken by that point of view that I had a completely different attitude when I went back to buy the tickets later that night. And guess what? The fares had actually gone down!

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