My wife Delma and I travel a great deal in their missionary endeavours and one way to save a few dollars here and there is fly light with only carry-on luggage, but if they need to have a larger bag, then they often only take one booked-in baggage item between the two of them.
In Australia, the major discount airlines, in order to keep the basic fares as low as possible, are now charging additional dollars for a range of services, including booked-in baggage.
Everything costs money, and so as missionaries, where every cent is greatly valued, trying to find ways to reduce every expense becomes paramount and those people who sacrificially give to Mission work would expect nothing less.
One of the key factors of Christians giving to missionaries is that the givers "trust you" with their money. This is not only a wonderful privilege but a great responsibility, as every cent comes from a Christian who, out their joy for the Lord, wants to help missions as much as possible. They dig deep from within their own limited resources so as to give a little extra.
Therefore, like Missionaries everywhere and like others on a tight budget, Well-Being Australia tries to maximise the value of the current competition policy within Australia, which has brought air fares down to very reasonable rates.
However, I found that there are traps for the unwary, so he would like to share some of his experiences so that others can move more smoothly through the system.
When booking cheap fares, it is imperative to look at all the conditions and all the fine print, and to get as much information from the web-sites as possible before clicking on the 'pay now' button. Sometimes, it might be more prudent and cheaper in the long run to choose a different airline, even if the initial advertisements seems to offer a higher fare because it might include more options within that fare.
It is up to the individual, when making each booking, to check these conditions as they can even change from week to week within the one airline system.
For example (while not mentioning any names), of the two main discount airlines within Australia, the online booking-in systems are quite different.
The first thing to mention is that it is usually cheaper to book tickets, pay, and check-in luggage online. Potential travellers that it is well worthwhile making the effort of learning to manipulate the web-based systems if he can do it in his near-retirement age, then it seems to be a very user-friendly way of organising your travel, and it is usually quite a bit cheaper.
If not, then there are cheap ways of making phone-calls to the airline, and the staff are usually friendly and helpful and can guide you through the system for the first time.
Phone calls are sometimes necessary too. While booking some recent travel, I found that one airline will allow each passenger to book in a bag, separately, through the online system but the other airline would only allow an 'all or nothing' check-in for all passengers on the one booking. In other words, there was no way he and his wife could ONLY check in one bag between them.
However, there are three potential ways around this. The first is to make a separate booking for the other passenger, but this involved doubling up on some extra booking fees. The second is to ring the airline and they can accede to your request manually and then send you an email of confirmation and only the internet booking rate is charged. And the third is to check your luggage in at the airport, but this is more expensive.
Alternatively the cost of booking in your one item of luggage "at the airport" is much higher and this is the most expensive way to do it.
Missionaries and others wishing to save a few dollars by sharing checked-in luggage is to carefully look at the conditions and online booking systems, and to add up all the extra charges involved, and to make their own decisions about 'which is really the cheapest way to fly'.
Sometimes it might even be cheaper to wait until the 'more expensive' airlines have a 'special' advertised; because those airlines have ALL costs included, even that of taking a checked-in bag each.
The bottom-line is 'buyer beware' there certainly is no one system that fits all pockets at the moment. After many years of travel, we have chosen an alternative method of booking air fares by first scouting around for the best options and then passing that information to the missionary travel agents InnerFaith to do the bookings. We had led Holy Land tours for InnerFaith.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html