You may not remember, but I booked a crazy mileage run that also gave me the ability to see the Iguazu Falls in South America. Though I’ve planned such trips in the past, I’ve made a bad habit of actually embarking on said trips. But, this one was looking good. The toughest part, my work schedule, was holding nicely, leaving the time open on my schedule. Second toughest is family commitments, and those didn’t appear to be infringing. And, then, my wife got the flu last Friday. I still felt pretty safe, since both kids were healthy.
Mom has got it pretty bad, still in bed sleeping as I type this post. And, on Monday night, our son started to exhibit symptoms. He woke up with a fever of 102.7 around 4am. Tuesday morning yielded a positive test for the flu for our son. Once we got him settled at home and some medicine, our daughter’s school called with a girl who was feeling a bit blue. After our second positive flu test of the day, everyone but me was officially sick. Long before the second flu test I had already made the decision to stay home, texting my traveling companion that I was going to start canceling my trip.
The hotel parts were easy, done with an e-mail and a quick website visit to get my rooms canceled. The airline part wasn’t quite as easy.
I called LAN first. It didn’t take long to get an agent on the phone, something I had experienced from my other calls to check on my reservation a couple of times leading up to my trip. I was informed that I needed to call the agent issuing the ticket if I wanted to cancel my itinerary.
Off to Priceline, which was far more complicated. The phone tree was easy enough to understand but there were a lot of layers to get through. There were also long-winded recorded messages explaining to me what might happen if I canceled with frequent bad phone scripts/grammar (if you cancel, you might be charged a fee of…..up to…..Two hundred dollars……dollars). I understand that these scripts are written for very infrequent travelers, but being unfamiliar with the phone prompts, it was a bit annoying to wade through since I didn’t know the exact shortcut to just get a human.
Once I was on the phone with a human she noted that I could get a refund of my ticket minus a $200 cancellation fee. However, she said that I could change the reservation fee for only $125 (and an additional $30 to Priceline). I told her I wasn’t ready to proceed with an additional reservation at this time and that I would prefer to cancel. Having read through the ticketing rules, I didn’t think there was any way I was actually entitled to a refund. But, I’ve been wrong before, so waited while she placed me on hold.
She came back and informed me that she was wrong and I couldn’t receive a refund. Yup, that sounded more correct. That required her to put me on hold again and contact LAN Airlines on my behalf again. More time passed and she came back on the phone again and told me she had gotten permission to cancel my flights and leave the reservation open for a future rebooking, in which I would be charged a $200 fee (expected) and $30 Priceline fee if I chose to rebook with them (unexpected). But, she needed to put me back on hold again to execute this, and would I mind holding on one more time? Of course not.
All in all, this sucked up 30 minutes of my time. I’m not sure if LAN will let me book directly with them in the future to avoid the $30 fee, but suffice it to say that Priceline didn’t win any new customers with the way their process works.
I’m not specifically against online travel agencies (OTAs), but I don’t generally use them for my own reservations because I don’t seem to get a lot of value out of the extra layer of people to deal with. In this instance, I couldn’t ticket this directly with LAN. However, the time invested to cancel the ticket would ultimately frustrate me if I knew I could have booked it directly with the airlines.
As I mentioned to my wife when I canceled the trip, I still have 9 years and about 335 days left on my Brazilian visa, and I’m sure they’ll be another trip. I’m out $200 for the change fee on my ticket, but other than that relatively unscathed if I book another flight with LAN this year (debatable, unless they decide to offer crazy fares again). Part of me is disappointed, but a big part of me is relieved that they didn’t get sick while I was out of the country and thus unable to help.
Ultimately, this likely drives the final stake in any chance I had at higher levels of United Airlines status this year. My plan was to sew up American Airlines Executive Platinum status early and then have the ability to send some business United’s way if the itineraries made sense. Anything can happen, and there’s potential work trips to Stockholm and China on the horizon.
The post 102.7 Reasons To Cancel My Crazy Trip To South America was published first on Pizza In Motion.
Don’t miss any of the daily travel tips, tricks and strategies found here. Follow me using one of these options: