I’m sure there’s some sort of interesting psychological reason behind my feeling like I must always apologize before complaining, but I’m not really in the mood to examine the science behind my emotions .. so I’ll just jump right into the justification: I know things could be so much worse and I feel awful for complaining, BUT.
I’m so, so, so sad. We are supposed to be in Japan right now for our vacation – not a working vacation, not a few days tacked onto the end of work trip, but an actual vacation, with hotels and spending money and tickets to see things. I’d been planning this trip since at least January – the flights were booked in March, hotels and train routes researched, half a million things scheduled and arranged and paid in advance – and we were supposed to have left yesterday, to fly into Haneda Airport. We didn’t go. And instead of being unable to sleep at 2am in Tokyo, I’m sitting at my desk trying to care about work and being awfully fatalistic about every little thing that comes my way.
The night before we were supposed to leave – literally 16 hours before our flight departed – we got wind (harrr) of Super Typhoon Hagibis bearing down on Japan, effectively shutting the country down for at least the weekend (and possibly longer, depending on the amount of damage the storm does). It’s not traditionally typhoon season in Japan (I researched this!), but Hagibis started out as a tropical storm that quickly grew into a Serious Situation faster than anyone thought possible, bypassing the “typhoon” title and going right into “Super Typhoon”. Windows are boarded up, store shelves are empty, hatches have been battened, and all flights and rail service has been cancelled for October 12 (with warnings that the cancellations may continue into the 13th and beyond). The Rugby World Cup and Japanese Grand Prix have cancelled games and races this weekend. The entire country is planning for Bad Times Ahead.
Who the fuck are we to fly into a country in the middle of a natural disaster and expect to be entertained? Personal safety aside, I can’t justify that level of entitlement. Ed and I armed ourselves with cats and blankets and made some fast decisions: we cancelled our trip. We didn’t know if our flight would even make it off the ground, and we weren’t comfortable with just waiting around to see. And even if it did, what then? We land in Tokyo and will either be trapped in the airport if trains have already shut down, or we’d get to our hotel and be unable to leave. That isn’t what I want out of a vacation, and I don’t want people to have to cater to me while concerned for their homes and lives .. so we got on the phone and started making calls. First up was Expedia, who understood the situation and got us full, immediate refunds for the pre-paid and technically non-refundable hotel bookings. I contacted our pet sitter to cancel the week, cancelled our parking reservation, and looked into the other things I had obsessively planned. The biggest hurdle was going to be the flight reservation, but we were unable to do anything about it because all the call centres were closed.
The following morning, we gathered in the living room to continue the Cancellation Spree. Unfortunately, this is where everything went to (even more) shit: the flights were booked partially with reward miles and partially cash. We had to contact the agency we used to redeem the miles, who tried in vain to contact the airline (their lines were crazy jammed for some reason) but ultimately had to give up when she couldn’t get through after an hour. Without the airline’s authorization, the agency could not issue us a refund, full stop. We had her cancel the fights, and she advised us to contact the airline ourselves after the storm had passed to see if we could get their authorization for the refund. Without it, we’re boned. Hooray!
The airline’s website does acknowledge that shit’s all fucky thanks to the typhoon, so their website says that people should call from the 15th onward to talk about refunds. That’s good! They specifically call out flights that were disrupted on the 11th, 12th, and 13th. That’s .. good? That’s the catch, though: our flight was on the 10th, and landed on the evening of the 11th. Does that qualify in their refund timeline? Also complicating matters: our flight DID LEAVE. It departed YVR at 1640, and landed in HND at 1833. We technically could have flown to Tokyo without issue, and just had to deal with that little super typhoon thing while there.
That’s where I sit right now. I have no idea if we’ll be refunded for our flights or not, or if they’ll stick to the rules and say nope, sorry. Without that information, I can’t reschedule us for anything else. At the moment, I could rebook us on the same flight to Tokyo for next Thursday, try to find new hotels in Tokyo and Kyoto, and cross my fingers that the country isn’t hit too badly by the typhoon, but I need to wait to see if we’ll get the refund or at least credit for the flights, or potentially be out another $2k. Our JR Rail passes are another issue: they’re good for three months past the issue date, which means have to be used by November 15th or returned before that date for an 80% refund. By the time I get this information, it’ll likely be too expensive to book the flight for two days out, and the 17th is the only other day we could possibly leave for this trip. I am in limbo, which is the place I hate most in the world (even more than Calgary). I am super sad and laden with the unknowns. I am freezing my ass off at work instead of being on vacation. We have no food in the house, no Thanksgiving plans, and no idea what we’re going to do next. EVERYTHING IS THE WORST EVER.
Oh, and the landscapers destroyed my Tower of London poppy and took the shattered pieces. It was in our yard as a tribute to my grandfather’s service in WW1. It’s literally irreplaceable – they sold the poppies from the original exhibit, and they’re all gone. Ed discovered the destruction yesterday morning, which just added to the overall assessment that the universe is garbage. All of the things are made of suck.
I feel like a brat for being so upset over a ruined vacation. I know it’s not the end of the world. I know I’ll probably get to go to Japan again, even if I have to wait until next year. I know I travel a lot, and if I have to miss one trip out of a dozen, boo hoo for me. But .. I was really looking forward to this trip. I’d spent the last 6 months being excited for yesterday, and in the course of an hour, everything went to hell. I am sad.
Back to work, I guess.