Friday, November 9, 2012

Re-Book Business

Wow. Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow. That is how I can sum up all of this so far. First, let me start by saying, that at the current moment, I should be in an airplane that took off from Chicago, and would land in Madrid, Spain, sometime in the early AM's. Clearly, since I am writing this, I am not.

Yesterday I went through the glorious process of re-booking my flight. I first was going to try and cancel it, and assumed that since I had purchased the trip insurance when I bought the ticket, that it would all work out. Well, let me give you my next piece of advice when you are planning an overseas trip: Do not book/pay for your flight until you know for sure that you will have your visa, or have it, but if you must book the flight ahead of time, do not use a cheap website (online service that gives you price comparisons), or finalize everything until you have really checked out all the details.

I was told not to book the flight itself, but to just get an online booking to present at my visa appointment so they can see my trip itinerary and when I am expected to be flying out/arriving. I should have listened. But instead, I thought that giving the Consulate 12 business days to complete the process and return my passport, visa inside, to me would be plenty of time, so I went ahead and purchased the flight. HUGE, monumental, absolutely massive mistake. Actually, let me clarify, it wouldn't have been such a huge, monumental, absolutely massive mistake had the trip insurance I purchased with the ticket been something that covered any and all reasons why you can't make your flight.

I always use to book my flights. I think they are the best website out there that gives you flight comparisons, and they give it to you all in one window, instead of many windows that pop up simultaneously. (For someone with ADD, that is never a good thing.) So, naturally, I used Skyscanner again to look at flight prices and find the one I would use to skip town. It redirected me to the GetawayASAP website, which is actually run by a travel agency of some sort, I think. I booked my flight on this site, and purchased the insurance that comes from a different agency, I guess. Not good.

When I originally contacted the company that I used to book the flight, they told me that there is a $400 fee for cancelling or changing the flight, and that if I got the insurance, then I needed to contact the company who I purchased the insurance from, and ask them to give me the refund. I did this, and came to find out that any, and I mean ANY excuse under the sun counts as ones that you can use to get a full refund for being unable to take your flight, EXCEPT if it's because [you're dealing with government agencies,] and haven't gotten your visa yet. Grrrreatt. I was going to go over-the-top and make up some sort of story about why I couldn't go, but came to realize that I was going to need a flight at some point anyways, so I should just re-book.

I spent from 9:00am till 3:30pm yesterday working on all of this. Looking at different costs for different days, locations, times, and etc for changing the flight, finding the most reasonable one, the best date, best option, and had it down to a flight change to January 9 for less than $260. Not too bad at all. The only problem? I cannot change the flight through the Iberia website, because I used a travel agent (I guess) to book the flight. As if you can even qualify me looking at and comparing flights for myself, on my own, as an agent!

In the end, I contacted GetawayASAP's customer support (who I might add are very responsive and helpful, I would suggest this site because of how great their customer support is) at 3:00 to see what I could do, and realized that God was once again, ultimately, on my side. I was told that I had until 3:30 to cancel, change, or take the flight I already had booked before it was lost or wasted. PHEW! Something good! So I "paid" the $400, and am now am scheduled to fly out on January 9. Whether I am on that flight is entirely up to the FBI, Spanish Consulate, and whatever other agencies I must deal with between now and then. Once again, my best wishes are sent to those on the East Coast dealing with the aftermath of the storms, but I am mostly praying for myself here, because I desperately need the FBI to get me my CBC back. Sorry.

As you can see, this is a perfect guide of exactly what NOT to do when you are trying to move abroad. I hope that lessons can be learned from my unfortunate case of procrastination and self-ruin, so that your travels might be much less stressful and costly than mine.

Today's Thought: If all this ends up happening, I am going to make everyone I meet pat me on the back, because I'll be deserving of some serious pats if I make it over there. This has sucked big time, and I have wanted to give up more often than not, but have not. Which leads me to the main thought: your dreams are not supposed to come easily. I highly doubt it if Bill Gates hit Microsoft's programming in one shot, and I know that Thomas Edison failed over a thousand times before he got the light bulb right, so why should any of our dreams come any easier? It's a hard pill to swallow, especially since all of us want instant gratification and have no concept of this so-called thing they call "patience," but that is how it goes. If you want it badly enough, you'll find a way to make it happen, and stop at nothing before you've done it. And that is what makes thing so much sweeter in the end -- knowing we worked our tails off, cried many times, probably bled a little (ladies), and thought we had failed and would never make it happen, but succeeded in the end. My dreams are too big for this world, but that's why I know they will work. Work hard for what you want, because if you persevere, in the end, you'll be proud.

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