Unfortunately, I will no longer be able to allow conferences to purchase my airline tickets. I must purchase them myself and be reimbursed. I will purchase the lowest price un-refundable coach-class tickets available for flights of a reasonable duration. These will be insured with cancel-for-any-reason travel insurance which the conference must pay for, and which will protect them from having to pay if I am not able to appear.
The reason for this is that I’ve had a number of bad experiences when I’m not the one who books my travel. The worst was when my wife was hospitalized, and I was not able to change my flight to get back to her quickly. But there have been others, including calling the booking travel agency for help only to find we didn’t have any language in common, not being able to buy my own ticket for my wife because the conference took too long to secure my ticket, and the time a conference stuck me in a city I didn’t want to be in for a long weekend, with no regard to my own plans.
I will usually buy tickets less expensive than are available through a conference’s travel agency. Part of this is because they are un-refundable, but in general I’ve not found institutional travel agencies to be able to access better bargains than available online, if one books far enough in advance.
Note also that when I am traveling for your conference, I am not running my consulting business, and will have no billable time. So, I go through quite a lot of expense to appear there.