I fucked up.
It was decided that the post-Barcelona trip this year would be to Amsterdam. When it came time to book the flights, there was no way for me to get Ed from Vancouver to Barcelona, then Amsterdam, then back to Vancouver without enduring any hellacious 16-hour layovers. I tried different configurations for over a month and even tried using a travel agent, but came up with nothing. To get around this, I booked Ed on two flights, four legs total:
- Vancouver to Amsterdam, leaving before the conference and returning after vacation (KLM outgoing, Delta return)
- Amsterdam to Barcelona, leaving several hours after landing in Amsterdam and returning after the conference (KLM outgoing, Iberia return)
The plan was for Ed to rub elbows in Barcelona while I cleaned up cat pee, then I would join him in Amsterdam a week later. His BCN-AMS flight would have landed two hours after my YVR-AMS flight, at which point we would purchase some wooden clogs and find some tulips to tiptoe through.
Unfortunately, germs happened. GMSA cancelled the Mobile World Congress entirely last week. It’s the biggest mobile conference in the world, so thousands of people are scrambling and trying to recoup flight and hotel costs. Luckily, I had purchased insurance for both of Ed’s flights, so everything should be fine!
Narrator: Things were not fine.
I dealt with the inner two legs first, and tried to cancel AMS-BCN. I managed to get a refund for the KLM portion, but the Iberia leg does not allow any changes. I have to go through insurance if I want the rest refunded. Insurance has already told me that a worldwide pandemic is not a valid reason to refund flight costs, so while I can go through the super fun experience of submitting a claim, there’s approximately 0.2% chance of it being successful.
Next up was the YVR-AMS flight. I wanted to change Ed’s outgoing flight from 02/21 to 02/27, but KLM basically laughed at me and told me to get bent: the flight is 100% non-changeable and non-refundable. Adding a dash of fun and complication was the fact that I had purchased an upgrade for Ed, from basic economy to economy plus, which allowed him checked luggage and a much better seat. KLM happily took my money for this, but input the change as a seat change only because technically upgrading the cabin was a change, which was not allowed. They never told me this, just said yep here’s your receipt and your new seat and see you later. Cool.
So, I can’t make any changes to the KLM flight whatsoever. Ed’s return flight from Amsterdam was still fine – I was on the same flight, just on a different ticket entirely – so I booked him a one-way ticket from YVR-AMS, leaving on the 27th with me. Hooray!
Narrator: Things were not hooray.
There’s no reason for Ed to be in Amsterdam/Barcelona a week early, so he missed his original outgoing flight (scheduled for today). Unfortunately, when you miss one flight, the rest of your flights get cancelled – so I got a lovely email late this afternoon saying Ed no longer had a return flight on 03/07.
I called up Expedia, who basically told me we were fucked. Ed called Delta, who said the same thing. They’d be willing to reinstate Ed’s return ticket if we paid the difference for a new ticket, which currently costs $4800.
At this point, we’ve paid for a return flight to Amsterdam (Ed), a second return flight to Amsterdam (me), and a one-way ticket to Amsterdam (Ed) for a total spend of about $5k, which doesn’t include hotels and red-light visits. I’ve been working on this trip since October, throwing myself into planning two days after the Japan trip didn’t happen as a way to distract myself from the overwhelming disappointment of our ruined, non-refundable, insurance-doesn’t-cover-super-typhoons trip.
I feel so stupid. I should have realized that simply not showing up to one flight would render the rest of ticket void, but I’ve been so stressed out trying to unravel this mess that I just .. didn’t. It doesn’t help that my ego is sporting some serious bruises, because I enjoyed almost a full decade of extreme luck when booking trips, only for everything to have been 17 different flavours of bad since our first truncated trip in 2018. I’m also 100% done purchasing travel insurance, because this is the third time my trip has been fucked through no fault of my own but the policy (with Allianz, Aetna, and now AIG) hasn’t covered fuck all.
I was on the phone for two hours this afternoon, and we actually have a resolution: Expedia changed Ed’s one-way YVR-AMS flight to a return trip with the exact flights we want, AND they covered the cost of the change (best case scenario would have been $401). I was willing to pay the extra $400 to make the flight work because we were in too deep to back out now (and I don’t want to) and $400 was easier to swallow than $4800, but I’m so so so glad the supervisor I spoke with (I had to go full Karen and ask for a manager after the first agent wasn’t able to help me) went to bat with corporate for me. I’m exhausted and hate the phone and am thinking about breeding complicated dogs as a hobby instead of travel, but as of right now, things are good and it didn’t cost me thousands more to fix and holy fuck do I ever need this fucking vacation.
I am weepy, but pleased.