Monday, October 25, 2021

have ticket; won't travel

A frequent reader sent me a message several months ago that something I had written really disappointed her.

I informed her that filing a complaint in that category required getting into a long line of parents, teachers, and ex-girlfriends that stretches over the horizon. Today I may join the queue.

When the new year started, my dance card was almost filled for September and October. In late September, I was to fly north to Vancouver for a trans-Pacific cruise to Tokyo. My flight home from Tokyo (the Emirates flight that played a big part in my recent round-the world escapade -- adding it all up) would get me back to Barra de Navidad just in time to fly to Rome to catch a cruise to Miami with my friends Roy and Nancy.

As you already know, the Tokyo cruise was cancelled when Canada closed its ports to cruise ships (even those that were doing their best to depart Canada). Then, Tokyo closed its ports. The cruise line automatically refunded my payment.

That left the Rome cruise. But not for long. Italy closed its ports, as well. The cruise line returned my deposit.

Last night I was chatting with Julio at Papa Gallo's when my telephone sent me a reminder that I had an AeroMexico flight to Mexico City this morning. I laughed because I knew that was not true. My memory is fading, but it is not getting that bad. Or so I thought.

I opened my calendar. Not only was I flying to Mexico City on Monday morning, I had a reservation at the airport Hilton that night before I boarded a midnight British Airlines flight to Heathrow and on to Rome the next day.

At first, I thought I had just forgotten to remove the reservations from my calendar. They were the flights to start the Rome cruise. A quick check on the internet proved me wrong. I was still booked for the three flights and the airport hotel stay.

When I figured out what I had done, I still had an hour and a half before the first flight left for Mexico City. My first instinct was to grab a carry-on bag, toss some clothes in it, call a taxi, and head off for an undetermined amount of time in Italy. Florence, of course. And maybe Sicily.

There was a day when I did not restrict myself to the corset of planning my travels. I just went. And they were the most memorable of my trips.

I actually had my passport in hand and the carry-on resting on my bed when the adult, who usually spends his time napping in the decision-making room of my brain, grabbed the controls from the 8-year old who is usually in charge. He reminded me I have commitments for the next two Sundays. I cannot just wander off like some unfaithful husband just because the sirens of travel are singing my name.

Cancelling the hotel and British Airlines reservations were easy. I did it online. AeroMexico was another story.

There is a long version and a short version. Here is the short version.

I cannot get a refund for my first class ticket to Mexico City because 1) I did not call three hours before the flight; 2) even if I had, the ticket itself was non-refundable, but 3) if I wait until the plane lands in Mexico City, I can then call and get a refund.

I felt sorry for the young man on the telephone. He was obviously a trainee who had to put me on hold after I shared each piece of information with him. He was so flustered that he did not bother to listen to what he was telling me. I was going to point out that I had never heard of a non-refundable first class ticket and that the other two suggestions were inconsistent, but I did not want to add to his already-confusing day.

Maybe I will call this afternoon to check on the refund. If I recall correctly (and that is a condition precedent that recent events have provided plenty of doubt as to its veracity) the amount of money involved may not be worth spending more time on.

When traveling, there are several considerations that do not show up on my radar. One of them is the refundability of a ticket. I notice that nonrefundable purchases are far more common now -- both on airlines and hotels. In my years of travel, I do not think I have ever cancelled a trip. Providers have been the culprits when it comes to cancellations.

I put nonrefundable tickets in the same category as travel and health insurance. They are options for which I personally see no need. Please note the "personally" in that sentence.

This experience with AeroMexico may change that. Or, at least, it may make me think about whether I should buy non-refundable tickets.

Either way, I am certain I will add some more people in that "you disappoint me" line. 

I suggest bringing a chair. It is a long wait.     

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