Should I pay $300 more for a plane ticket to Europe to keep the peace with friends?
August 30, 2012 12:40 PM   Subscribe

Traveling to Europe with friends. They want to combine plane fares and split the ticket costs evenly. Problem: this means I'll be paying $300 more than what my round-trip ticket would cost if I bought it separately. Should I agree to it?

THE SITUATION:

My best friend (BFF), whom I've known since childhood, is getting married in Europe. She's invited me to be a part of the entourage, and I have been planning on the trip with her sister (S), her sister's husband (SH), and her other best friend (B). It's my first trip to Europe, and I'm excited!

S and I aren't exactly close, but we get along and have gone on trips together via BFF. SH, I know mainly as S's partner, but he's cool. B is a good friend, whom I've spent time with even without BFF and we've even gone on a couple of trips on our own.

In the course of planning our itineraries, money-saving tips and tricks came up, with the general idea that this was all going to be on a shoestring, considering the exchange rates of our currency to the Euro. (FWIW, we are all coming from SouthEast Asia.) I researched a lot, using ITA Software, Skyscanner, and Kayak (thanks, AskMe!) to find the cheapest fares, and planned my itinerary around my annual leave credits and the cheapest departure date near the end of those credits, knowing that the plane fare is probably going to be the biggest single expense of the trip.

We discussed our plans together and will pretty much be travelling together. We will all be taking the same flight going into Europe, but departing separately. B and SH will be going home earliest, then me after several days. S will be leaving last, a couple of weeks later.

We all decided to apply for Schengen visas together as well, but ran into the hurdle of booking flights without having to pay for them until our visas are approved. (This cannot be done online, as you have to pay for the tickets right away.) Ultimately, we used a travel agent at the last minute: one that S's parents trusted and used often. She booked our flights and hotels and we were able to use these documents for our Schengen visa application.

(Side note: I am not 100% happy with her, as she missed a couple of details in the application form, and I had to do a couple of last-minute bookings with my own credit card since she missed a couple of dates, causing gaps AND forgot to tell us she couldn't find a hotel for an off-the-beaten-path destination. But she did help us out at less than a week's notice from our visa appointment, cheerily.)

THE DILEMMA:

Now, my best friend has asked about our itinerary details in order to arrange for picking us up at the airport, etc. and S asked us yesterday (through an online group we formed to discuss our travel plans) if we were going to use the tickets that the travel agent booked for us. I had checked the flight details against the airline website, and the price was comparable to my previous research for the cheapest online fares, so I replied that I looked up the fare and it was $____ online, and that it would do.

Today, after apparently having already discussed it with the travel agent, SH asked our online group if we were willing to split the costs of the plane fare and each pay the same amount. The amount is $300 higher than what I would pay for a solo round-trip ticket. I replied, asking if it would be fine with them if I buy my ticket for the same flight separately, online, and that $300 is a big deal to me.

SH then explained the motivations behind the even split: his and B's base plane fare alone would be $200 more than the average, not including the surcharges. (With surcharges, it could come up to $500-600 more than my solo round-trip ticket.) He said that if we split, it would help offset each other's ticket prices and give us all a better chance of enjoying the trip. Which is a fair point to make.

(Potential internal issue: all along, I thought S and SH could afford the trip more than I, as they have their own condo, car, and higher paying jobs. Oh and their visas and a week's worth of accommodation are being sponsored by the fiance's family. B and I will be paying our own way throughout the trip.)

If I don't agree split the costs, the trip is going to cost the most to B, who like me will be paying for hotels/hostels if we can't find couches to surf, and her and SH's plane fare are the highest among our group.

My problem is that I feel cornered. If I don't go along with splitting evenly, it looks pretty selfish. If I do go along with it, I'm out $300 which could have gone to the occasional splurge on a nice meal or better accommodations. I'm torn between going along to keep the peace, and defending my right to spend my money as I please. The thing is, I come from a community-minded culture where the former is valued more than the latter. But I'm also very DIY and thrifty by nature, and would CouchSurf the whole trip if I could. To be fair to them though, I think they're treading carefully around the travel agent as well, who is virtually a family friend to S and BFF's well-traveled folks.

So. Should I or shouldn't I? Am I just being a cheapskate asshole, valuing savings over relationships? Is it a question of caring enough about B or BFF, and what it's worth? Are there any alternatives we haven't considered?

Please hope me, MetaFilter! It's 2:30am where I am and I'm torn, can't sleep, can't decide, and can't step back far away enough to examine the situation objectively. Thank you in advance!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (74 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
i believe that oft repeated phrase on askme applies.

"That will not be possible."

Because it's not. You don't have an extra $300. If you did, it wouldn't be an issue for you, it seems.
posted by sio42 at 12:45 PM on August 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


Vacations are expensive things, and like most expensive things, people budget for them. You can't magically pull three hundred bucks out of your back pocket because of whatever the hell booking morass you're peripheral to.
posted by griphus at 12:45 PM on August 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


I would also say no. Strongly seconding Miss Manners' "That won't be possible" line.
posted by brainmouse at 12:45 PM on August 30, 2012


um. no. why don't they buy their tickets cheaper through the website, too? splitting the total cost of airfare doesn't make sense in any universe. THEY'RE being cheapskates by asking you to subsidize the extra $ they need to spend to placate their travel agent.
posted by dynamiiiite at 12:46 PM on August 30, 2012 [18 favorites]


This is not a dinner check, this is an international flight. I would consider this if it was someone I was dating, or a relative. You are not a cheapskate, these people are weirdly presumptuous.
posted by elizardbits at 12:46 PM on August 30, 2012 [30 favorites]


If they asked you to give each of them $100, just for the fun of it, would you do it? Because that's what they're asking.
posted by ubiquity at 12:47 PM on August 30, 2012 [17 favorites]


Oh, and if this really is because your not sharing the cost will somehow get S & SH in dutch with the travel agent, then they should front you the $300 so you can afford to do it.
posted by ubiquity at 12:49 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Sorry, I can't afford to pay $300 more." End of discussion.
posted by raisingsand at 12:49 PM on August 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


if we split, it would help offset each other's ticket prices and give us all a better chance of enjoying the trip

Actually, it would help THEM lower their ticket price and give THEM a better chance of enjoying the trip, and would do the opposite for you. (This sounds like an argument my 5-year old would make. "But Mommy, ice cream would make me happy, and when I'm happy, it makes you happy!")

I would say, "Sorry, the $300 is a lot for me and I won't be able to pay extra for the group tickets."
posted by chickenmagazine at 12:50 PM on August 30, 2012 [21 favorites]


He said that if we split, it would help offset each other's ticket prices and give us all a better chance of enjoying the trip. Which is a fair point to make.

"I would be happy if you gave money" is a true point. "I will not be fun to be around if you don't give me money" is not a fair point, it's a threat.
posted by endless_forms at 12:51 PM on August 30, 2012 [29 favorites]


They are straight up asking you to give them $300, so they can enjoy the wedding more. It is perfectly fine to say no, especially if you can't really afford it.
posted by Garm at 12:51 PM on August 30, 2012


I second ubiquity: as I read your question, they are asking you to give them $300 by phrasing it as "splitting the trip equally". Whether you should do that is a different question (to which the answer, I posit, is "sorry, I can't").
posted by katrielalex at 12:52 PM on August 30, 2012


Am I just being a cheapskate asshole?

No. The cheapskate assholes are the ones asking their friends to subsidize their trips.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:53 PM on August 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


Yeah, don't let them guilt you into paying for their vacation. That's ridiculous and greedy of them.
posted by MexicanYenta at 12:53 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


He said that if we split, it would help offset each other's ticket prices and give us all a better chance of enjoying the trip.

This is kind of a sticking point for me, tbh. It's dishonest and guilt-inducing. If someone asked me to simply lend or even just give them the money because they couldn't afford to go without it, I would be far more amenable to their request than I would be if faced with this weaselly bullshit.
posted by elizardbits at 12:53 PM on August 30, 2012 [15 favorites]


To be fair to them though, I think they're treading carefully around the travel agent as well, who is virtually a family friend to S and BFF's well-traveled folks.

You are not responsible for their inability to navigate a personal/professional relationship with their travel agent.

This is not your dog.
posted by endless_forms at 12:53 PM on August 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


Am I just being a cheapskate asshole, valuing savings over relationships?

It actually sounds like they're valuing their vacation over your friendship because $300 goes beyond "imposition" and into "are you kidding?" territory.
posted by griphus at 12:54 PM on August 30, 2012


"Sorry, I can't. I've already budgeted those $300 for my accommodations!" Key work BUDGET!
posted by xicana63 at 12:54 PM on August 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


SH then explained the motivations behind the even split: his and B's base plane fare alone would be $200 more than the average, not including the surcharges. (With surcharges, it could come up to $500-600 more than my solo round-trip ticket.) He said that if we split, it would help offset each other's ticket prices and give us all a better chance of enjoying the trip. Which is a fair point to make.

Whoa man I would have a better chance of enjoying a great many things if my friends tossed me a few hundo for no logical reason, but I do not ask for that because it is straight-up crazy.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:54 PM on August 30, 2012 [27 favorites]


I can't think of a situation in which this is an appropriate thing to ask someone to do, unless it was someone you were in a relationship with and had a shared budget. Why should you have to pay for their ticket? I would be honest with them and say that you've planned everything to the last details (maybe even joke about how over-organised you always are?) and that you've accounted for everything already, and just don't have the money. It definitely does not look selfish, but they seem very presumptuous and even rude.
posted by Dorothea_in_Rome at 12:55 PM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


If they go along with asking you to do this, I think it makes *them* look pretty selfish.

And couldn't they just buy their tickets online like you and give the travel agent a nice big tip for her help? Like, say, the $600 they would be saving if they booked online?

Unless there is something I'm not getting here, I think it's totally inappropriate for them to even be asking, and I don't see why it's even necessary.
posted by mskyle at 12:56 PM on August 30, 2012


Oh my god, wait, this is your BFF's sister and brother in law? Not your OWN sister and brother in law? No, fuck them forever.
posted by elizardbits at 12:56 PM on August 30, 2012 [45 favorites]


Bringing it up beforehand could have been acceptable. But "I'm sorry, I budgeted really carefully for this trip based on the flight costs I researched, and I can't afford to do this" is a fair answer.

(Why are all your flight costs so very different if you're on the same flights?)
posted by jeather at 12:57 PM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wow. Your friends sound very selfish. I'm shocked. I would actually reconsider my friendship with these people. I won't even go to dinner with people who want to split the check equally at the end of the meal. I can't imagine someone trying to pull this on me at a cost of $300.
posted by parakeetdog at 12:58 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Uh NO!

Why should you pay more to make these people happy. You're already spending money and vacation time on a destination wedding for cripes sake.

If these folks can't afford it, then oh well.

What does your BFF think about this? What about B?

Are THEY going to chip in? What about having the whole family chip in. Wouldn't they have more fun if the trip was free?

Never mind. Screw them, and if they have a problem. Save your money and stay home.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:58 PM on August 30, 2012


He said that if we split, it would help offset each other's ticket prices and give us all a better chance of enjoying the trip. Which is a fair point to make.

Chiming in with the rest here to say, no, don't do that. And upon reading the above I actually said, out loud, to the screen, "No. No it's not."

I have to say, this is the weirdest request I've ever heard.
posted by aclevername at 1:00 PM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm torn between going along to keep the peace, and defending my right to spend my money as I please. The thing is, I come from a community-minded culture where the former is valued more than the latter.

(FWIW, we are all coming from SouthEast Asia.)


This is one of those questions where I think you will be much better served by asking a different group of people. Most people on MeFi are in the US, Western Europe, or Australia/NZ and so most of the answers you are going to get will be from those cultures. You are going to get what looks like a strong consensus but it will really only be a strong consensus with regard to the proper way to handle this in THOSE cultures.

I think you would be better served by asking in a place where most of the answers will come from people in the culture that your question is about.
posted by cairdeas at 1:00 PM on August 30, 2012 [14 favorites]


SH then explained the motivations behind the even split: his and B's base plane fare alone would be $200 more than the average, not including the surcharges. (With surcharges, it could come up to $500-600 more than my solo round-trip ticket.) He said that if we split, it would help offset each other's ticket prices and give us all a better chance of enjoying the trip. Which is a fair point to make.

Uh, that is not a fair point to make. Don't be intimidated by this jerk; just say no.
posted by The Michael The at 1:01 PM on August 30, 2012


"He said that if we split, it would help offset each other's ticket prices and give us all a better chance of enjoying the trip."

Umm, no. The only offset would be to THEIR tickets, because YOU would be paying FOR THEM...... and no, that isn't remotely fair or reasonable. Oh sure, it certainly would 'give them a better chance to enjoy the trip'; making other people pay for my vacation would make me happy, too! And don't forget, they could have done the research you've done, and found the same lower prices you found.

Tell them "no, that won't be possible", and keep repeating it as needed.
posted by easily confused at 1:03 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Dudes, you're welcome to look up cheaper fares yourself, I cannot afford to subsidize you moochers for $150 each. Did I mention I'm on a budget?" is what you say with your inside-the-head voice.

In your outside the head voice, you say "no, that won't be possible."
posted by zippy at 1:04 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


The only time splitting costs equally among a group of friends is when it evens out in the end. Where is this evening out for you? This is so incredibly strange I can't even comprehend it.
posted by dpx.mfx at 1:04 PM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is this some sort of cultural thing? (As you mention SE Asia) Who the hell even asks a question like that?
As mentioned already: "No that will not be possible". At the most add something about your budget.
And what does the bride think of this? If she thinks you should be subsidizing her sister and her sister's husband, you need to reconsider your BFF status!
posted by Snazzy67 at 1:05 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


No. But people do get crazy around weddings. If it turns out your BFF was complicit, chalk her magical thinking and consequent boundry-transgression up to Bridezilla-syndrome, and trust that the madness will pass.
posted by feral_goldfish at 1:05 PM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


N-thing that you're not the one being selfish. "Sorry, I can't afford to pay an extra $300 for my flight." is a totally reasonable response.
posted by ewiar at 1:08 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, there's no offsetting "each other's tickets" here. There's only offsetting their ticket prices, not yours. Say no in whatever polite/non-grar way works, but say no.
posted by rtha at 1:10 PM on August 30, 2012


Yeah, this request is almost inconceivable until you remember it is within the event horizon of Wedding Money Weirdness. It still doesn't make it OK, and certainly not something you should agree to, but it's at least understandable in that context. Everything about money gets a little funky around a wedding.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:11 PM on August 30, 2012


Yeah, but none of the people asking for money from the OP are actually getting married! They're just snagging onto the extant madness and being like LOL I DUNNO JUST PAY FOR OUR TRIP DUDE.
posted by elizardbits at 1:12 PM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dear S & SH:

Sorry, but it just won't be possible for me to spend an extra $300 on my flight. As you know I'll also be paying for my own visa fees and accommodations, so I'll really need to keep expenses down.

Can't wait to see you in Europe and celebrate BFFs marriage!

Love,

Anonymous
posted by lalex at 1:12 PM on August 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


Cairdeas makes the most important point above -- if you're not coming from an cultural system basically built around historical English etiquette, the information here is probably useless.

In Canada, what they're asking would basically be ridiculous.

It might be okay if you were all following the same itinerary and there just weren't enough seats available at the lowest price to accommodate all of you, so you evenly split the cost of otherwise identical tickets.

But you're not. If their travel plans are more expensive, that's just too damned bad. That's just the way airline pricing works, unfortunately. They'd all enjoy the trip more if they got to take the long flight to Europe in business class, too, but you wouldn't pay for half of the upgrade so they could do that while you sat in coach. Why should you pay for them to fly on more expensive dates?
posted by jacquilynne at 1:14 PM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


And wtf, the person to whom the OP is the least close out of all the participants is the one to make the request? That's creepy and manipulative, especially if this is coming from a culture where women may not be super comfortable arguing with not-very-well-known men. Which, hi, is basically every culture on earth but some are worse than others.
posted by elizardbits at 1:16 PM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


B & SH (i gather NOT a couple) 's tickets are likely more expensive because they are traveling for a shorter period of time. You are going to pay that cost (possibly more) for your extra accommodation.

You are all individually traveling to support your friend, that's a generous thing to do
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 1:17 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


elizardbits: "Yeah, but none of the people asking for money from the OP are actually getting married! They're just snagging onto the extant madness and being like LOL I DUNNO JUST PAY FOR OUR TRIP DUDE."

The Wedding Money Weirdness Event Horizon is strongly focused on the bride and groom, but it does extend for a significant distance, usually encompassing all sets of parents and the whole wedding party at the minimum.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:18 PM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


First of all I wouldn't do it. From what it sounds like to me, if you have to pay an extra $300 for the trip, you can't afford to go. And if you can't afford to go, then they won't be getting the $300 from you anyway. So, combining the fares doesn't sound possible to me.

But...I caught something in what you said. SH is speaking for B, saying B's fare (along with SH's) would be more expensive. Have you talked directly with B about this? Since you and B are close friends, seems like you and B should work out a deal, and leave S and SH to figure out something else with their family or whatever. I'd find out from B directly (maybe not post your question to the entire group) how much more B's ticket will cost. If you really want to help B out do so. But I'd hesitate to just give the group $300 if it's going to blow your budget.
posted by MultiFaceted at 1:23 PM on August 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


I've re-read your question, and noticed that you don't say anything about B's finances. Here's the ONLY way in which I can construe this plan as even pretend-reasonable: your friends want to subsidize B, but don't want B to feel singled out.

When I married mrs_goldfish, those of us in the wedding party who had comfortably-paid jobs subsidized travel and housing costs for guests who were still graduate students. The idea of paying more was originally proposed by some of the better-off guests (and is pretty standard in some of their circles when crowds of friends at mixed academic levels go out to dinner).

But the side-effect of you subsidizing SH is unacceptable. S, whose finances are presumably not completely unmingled with his, should not have suggested it.
posted by feral_goldfish at 1:26 PM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


sio42: You don't have an extra $300. If you did, it wouldn't be an issue for you, it seems.

I read it like anonymous does technically have the money: If I do go along with it, I'm out $300 which could have gone to the occasional splurge on a nice meal or better accommodations. Which might be part of the problem. I don't know if what they're asking is somehow culturally appropriate there or if they're as rude/thoughtless as people would have to be to ask that where I live. But I'm thinking it might be different if that $300 would be coming out of anonymous's rent next month.

If applicable, anon, what you would do if you literally didn't have that money? And do the others know whether you literally have that money or not?
posted by DestinationUnknown at 1:29 PM on August 30, 2012


Oh wait -- I see SH himself suggested the split. Yeah, fuck that. Subsidize B if you want to, but only if it's something you can do happily and without resentment. Do not subsidize SH.
posted by feral_goldfish at 1:37 PM on August 30, 2012


I dunno, I'm also from Southeast Asia, and if the way my own family handles communication is any indication, my response would be far more rude and direct than "that will not be possible."

My answers would probably be more along the lines of:

"Do you think I'm rich or what?"
"Are you crazy? $300 is a lot, man."
"BFF is paying so much for you already! Why do you need my $300?"
posted by sawdustbear at 1:42 PM on August 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


You asked for alternatives y'all haven't considered: even if you do want to subsidize B, you can do so in various ways, for example by including her in some of your splurges -- and using the 'my ticket cost less' rationale as your excuse for doing so.
posted by feral_goldfish at 1:45 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll try an opposing view just for fun. If you were the one saving $300 would you take this plan? What I mean is, is this the way people you hang out with do things? If it is, and you *can* afford it then I guess you could do it. Given the way you've explained it, I'm completely baffled that SH even mentioned this plan. So I'm wondering if I'm missing something cultural.

Another way of putting it. Will you feel worse about being "taken for $300 dollars" or "letting $300 ruin your trip" Do you want to offer to buy your own ticket, but give $100 to the cause?

To be clear, none of these are things that you *should* do, or even "need to do be be a good friend" they're things you could do, if you felt like it, and should be considered as generous (or at least considerate) acts by the recipients.
posted by dadici at 1:46 PM on August 30, 2012


Of course, you could also do the "Great, though we have to also split the cost of accommodations and visas for me and B so we can enjoy the trip!"

That would probably shut them up, but it's a very aggressive move that you only want to use if you are backed into a corner.

(You do something like:

Plane ticket S - X
Plane ticket SH - X
Plane ticket Anon - X
Plane ticket B - X
Visa A - X
Visa B - X
Accommodations A - x
Accommodations B - x

Total: X
each person owes X/4. Don't skimp on hotel costs!)
posted by jeather at 1:48 PM on August 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


This only makes sense if the total cost through the travel agent is less than the total cost through the website. If that's true, then that means that you could pay the same amount as your ticket would have been on the website, S, SH, and B can split the remainder (including the $300 difference), and it will still be cheaper for them than if they'd used the website. If that's not true, then the travel agent isn't doing anybody any favors.
posted by aimedwander at 1:53 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't believe anyone would ask a friend to do this. I've traveled with friends before and we try to find deals online together, but ultimately each of us buys our own ticket. If it were a significant other or a relative it could be different, but not just for a group of friends.
posted by fromageball at 2:00 PM on August 30, 2012


If I had the money I would do it just because money isn't that important to me. I would also provide a lecture that if they can't afford to go they should ask for a loan not try and pretend "everyone" will enjoy the trip more. I don't mind helping people but I won't be a tool. Just have three agree to pay you back. If they take offense that is their issue not yours. I would loan them the money even if it stretched me, but only as a loan.
posted by pdxpogo at 2:13 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


WTF? NO!


it would offset each other's ticket prices

It doesn't offset yours, but increases it.
posted by windykites at 2:16 PM on August 30, 2012


Wait. Have you also paid the travel agent a fee for dealing with the visas? Or was that included in the ticket prices?

If you paid a fee to the agent for processing the visas, don't pay anymore. If the agent did the visas because she thought you'd buy tickets from her, she's the one you owe some loyalty/money to.
posted by bilabial at 2:31 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


So what happens if you DON'T use the tickets that the travel agent booked for you?

Just to play devil's advocate, back when you said it was okay to use a travel agent so your visa situation would go smoothly, you did walk into this a bit.... UNLESS you protested to all and said you wouldn't go through with the travel agent booking in the end.
posted by k8t at 2:51 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


k8t and bilabial: the OP is OK with purchasing a ticket from the travel agent, since the travel agent's price for the OP's ticket is comparable to the online price. The difficulty is that other people's tickets are more expensive than her own ticket, whether from the travel agent or (I assume) online.
posted by dd42 at 3:21 PM on August 30, 2012


Well according to what Kruger5 says, then lay on the guilt and say you'd love to help out with distributing the expenses amongst friends, including expenses of the visas and the week's accommodation (thereby loading on more expense onto S and SH).

If their visas are covered by family, well that's great for them. They can help you out too.
posted by lizbunny at 3:46 PM on August 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Hells no. The splitting the cost thing makes no sense, whatsoever. None. I would question why your friends think it would be ok for you to pay the extra $300, & if they make a stink about it, I would question if I really want to be friends with these people, cause it doesn't sound like they're treating you very well.

Don't feel guilty. You owe them nothing. as far as feeling any emotion I would think feeling skeptical of how your friends value & see you, cause that's pretty ridiculous logic. Don't feel guilty if someone is trying to screw you so they can have a better time. It's your life, not theirs, & your trip. Don't let someone else bully you into not being able to enjoy it.

2nding saying that it's "just not possible", end of disscusion.
posted by readygo at 4:01 PM on August 30, 2012


Tell them you'll split the cost of the plane tickets if they'll split the cost of accommodations and visas.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 4:21 PM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I understand the cultural side of things here but $300 is not the same as $50.

It is actually very selfish of them to ask you do to this and, yes, it may very well be held against you if you don't, but what they're asking is over the top. "That's just not possible".
posted by heyjude at 6:48 PM on August 30, 2012


He said that if we split, it would help offset each other's ticket prices and give us all a better chance of enjoying the trip. Which is a fair point to make.

That's disingenuous. It would give HIM a better chance of enjoying the trip. It would give you a lesser chance - more financial burden than you need, less money to spend, lingering resentment, etc.

If Mitt Romney split his money with me, it would give me a better chance of enjoying life. But it isn't going to happen. Neither should this plan.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 6:49 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


From the OP:
Thank you everyone, for your input. (Special thanks to elizardbits for making me laugh so hard!)

Just to clarify some points asked of me:

- S actually initiated the idea of splitting of the costs evenly with the travel agent. SH was the one who broached the topic on our online group, and our travel agent did the same to B and me through text, BOTH presenting the "equalized" price without presenting the breakdown of our actual ticket fares. I had to ask the travel agent how much my ticket would be if I bought it on its own, and it turned out to be much cheaper than the equal split. From this, I gathered that S and I have the cheaper tickets, while SH and B have the pricier ones.

- We all paid the travel agent a fee for processing the flight and hotel bookings and travel insurance. (Her fee did not include actual visa fees which we all had to pay to the embassy.) She doesn't mind if we get the tickets from her or not, but she has given us a deadline to decide. I am fine with getting the ticket she booked for me, as it is comparable to the online rate. (It's around $100 more than the online price, but includes a travel tax of about $45 that isn't included on the website.)

- The tradeoff is between savings and convenience. If we split the costs, it will save the rest of the group the time and effort of researching for plane fares, and figuring out who owes what how much. It will also make it easier for BFF to arrange for pick-ups at airport if we all arrive to Europe on the same flight.

- To my knowledge, the bride doesn't know about any of the cost-splitting shenanigans.

- If it matters, I volunteered to make the toll calls for the visa appointments, since I could do it at no cost (office is liberal about this) while they would've had to pay $0.75 / minute.

- As to what I would do if I "literally didn't have that money": I would borrow it from family or friends.

- I was able to talk to B, and she's very much aware of the potentially higher costs for her and has factored it into her budget. I kind of told her how I felt and how worried I was about my finances for the trip, and she understood and said she was flexible, though I did detect some disappointment.

- As for "resorting to a Western board", at least 3 of us are MeFites (BFF and B used to read The Blue a lot, but not lately), and faily liberal and tech-minded compared to the average population out here. and I'm fairly sure they won't be trawling AskMe. Also I trust MeFite opinions, but I will be asking on other boards as well.

In a nutshell, having to pay $300 more than my own ticket's cost doesn't sit well with me. But everyone else seems to want it, hence I feel cornered with no gracious way to say "no!" even though I've commented on our online group on two separate occasions that I would prefer to pay my own way with the online rate.

So I guess the question is more now of "How do I say no while letting them save face and not appear to be selfish instead of thinking of the welfare of the group?"
posted by jessamyn at 6:58 PM on August 30, 2012


why are you even considering this? this is ridiculous—it would never even occur to me to ask a friend of mine to pay more money for something when they don't have to (especially if by more, i mean hundreds more). you'd be subsidizing the others' vacations—and it's not your job to spend hundreds of dollars more because other ppl can't afford their expenses.

nthing, "it's not possible." if they press you, you can say, "i don't have a few extra hundred dollars to subsidize your vacation" and then if pressed again, just keep stating, "it's not possible."
posted by violetk at 6:59 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


"How do I say no while letting them save face and not appear to be selfish instead of thinking of the welfare of the group?"

i'm sorry but it's selfish of them to even ask you, and knowing how you feel, to try to make you feel bad when you hinted that you couldn't do that. at this point, not appearing selfish should not be your concern. "i can't afford to pay an extra $300." end of story. it's your damned money; you don't need to explain how and why you choose to spend or not spend it.
posted by violetk at 7:03 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


You're being pushed into it? Push back on the cost of the visa and the hotel. Either you split all the costs that your group needs to be paying (ie, airfares for everyone and visas and hotels for people who aren't having the bride or groom's family pay for it) or none of them. That will probably result in you not saving all that much money, B saving quite a bit, and S and SH spending more.

You know how much your flight costs; they can easily just split the other flight costs by three, if they want, so you're not forcing them to research fares (the travel agent has this information, anyways).

So either you push back on splitting ALL costs, or you just tell the travel agent "you know what, I'll get my own flight" and plan to arrive at the airport around the same time as everyone else (after all, you already know what flight they will be on).
posted by jeather at 7:11 PM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ahh, so it IS cultural....in that case can you blatantly state that to the online group that you either cannot go or will have to cancel/curtail certain activities if you have to contribute an extra $300 ? Would give them a way to save face?
And, on preview, why not what jeather just said.
posted by Snazzy67 at 7:15 PM on August 30, 2012


I am an American living in China and I can see how this is cultural- doing what's best for the group rather than an individual (seems to be an Asian thing). I don't know if I can help you though because as an American even in China, I just would not do something like this and usually Chinese friends would not expect it of an American. So I guess I don't have much good advice on the whole face-saving thing. Could you just honestly tell them, individually maybe, that you are really on a tight budget and want to see if you can work out another way for everyone to be able to afford the trip (emphasizing "everyone", and group interests, etc).
posted by bearette at 8:56 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


SH is a jerk for putting you into that situation. It's not your responsibility to save him (or B) money.

One way to save face may be to compare the fact that your later flight is cheaper because you have to spend more money ($300 even...) on extra food/accommodation. So you're very sorry you can't help them out because that's where all your funds are going.
posted by Cattaby at 10:08 PM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


They're being very selfish. However, if you don't split the cost then they're probably the types to be watching over your shoulder and saying "oh, I thought you said you were broke" if you do splash out on a nice meal during the trip. I also think this could damage your friendships, particularly with B (the friendship that matters) as her disappointment means it's possible it will be three against one during the trip.

I hate to say it, but I'm going to go against the grain and would say pay the $300 if you can just for group harmony. It's not worth bad feelings on your first trip to Europe over. The danger there, though, is that they decide to take you for a sucker during the trip, ordering champagne while you drink coke and then suggesting splitting the bill for that, too. If you do pay the $300 try to nicely make it clear that's the last subsidy they're getting.
posted by hazyjane at 10:44 PM on August 30, 2012


I've no connection to SE Asia, though I accept more than a good no. of people with group decisions about choosing restaurants, splitting the bill evenly when my share is substantially less than the amount divided by the number of people, etc., but this is ludicrous.

More directly, a lot's been said since this question was posted, but what jumped out at me was pretty early in your question: $300 is a big deal to me.

Please don't give in to slimy, selfish, guilt-trippers.
posted by ambient2 at 1:02 AM on August 31, 2012


Okay, I can see how, culturally, they can use your community to guilt you into this "fair split" deal that is actually grossly UNFAIR to you; if they insist on this, then make sure to toss ALL your trip expenses into the pot: not only all four tickets, but also everyone's visa costs AND hotel costs --- oh, but only TWO of you are staying in hotels, not all four, so splitting THAT "isn't fair"?!? Well, splitting two people's hotel costs four ways is just as reasonable as splitting all four tickets four ways!

Basically, if they try to use community pressure to make you pay a chunk of their tickets, turn it around and use that same community pressure on them.
posted by easily confused at 3:41 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Two thoughts:

If you can find a way to add some or all of your separate costs included in the group pot (visas, hotels) then agree.

Do you have the time / inclination to act as travel agent for booking everyone online more cheaply than the travel agent? Be careful this won't become too much of a time commitment before offering, but it might be a way to get "better" Paris all around
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 8:52 AM on August 31, 2012


Do I know you? Because you sound like someone in my family or extended family and I was racking my brain trying to work out who was getting married in Paris without me knowing.

I come from a similar culture to yours. My questions would be: (some of them are a bit blunt and probably don't apply to you specifically)

a) Can BFF's family pay for the sister and husband? My parents did this for me when my sister got married (in England) and had her reception (in Bangladesh) as I was a freelancer uni grad coming from Australia with no money to spare (and all that travelling around wasn't helping me secure a job).

b) Hotels got brought up a few times. Are there other options for accommodation? Family/friends, some sort of cheaper B&B style getup...

c) Can they offer something in return for the $300? Maybe they can pay for all your food, or treat you to the things you would have splurged on, or whatever.

What I don't understand is why you're expected to foot the bill for a non-relative. It'd be like me getting married in Australia and my English-residing sister asking my Malaysia-residing best friend to cover her costs - wrong money flow there. If anything I would have expected the sister's family unit to help with the costs more because it's their event.
posted by divabat at 2:15 PM on August 31, 2012


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