Mother and Brother
So I opted for another combination, which I have also used before: Manchester to Newark and then Newark to Hartford. Another criteria in my decision-making this time around was that I arrive with a reasonable amount of daylight. This is the first time I will be hiring my car from the airport. This way I can have a car for three weeks for the cost of around $600/400 pounds, including insurance. Previously, I have spent an exorbitant $1000/600 pounds for 10 days including insurance from a dealer close to my mother, who comes and picks me up and at the end when I return the car takes me back to my mother's. -- I have done this because I am not clear about the way from the airport to my mother's home -- many back roads and tricky turnings before I am in familiar territory. The deal this time is that my darling brother will meet me at the airport and then will lead me through the maze of getting to my destination! And it makes Mom happy because she gets to see two of her darlings!
The Newark flight would have got me into Hartford at 5.30 pm. That was until 17 February when I received an e-mail from Expedia saying my flights had been changed, please call them! The flight from Newark to Hartford was to be no longer ... The alternative suggestion was to fly me from Newark to Chicago and from Chicago to Hartford! That would have got me into Hartford between 9 and 10 p.m. -- hours hours flying in completely the wrong direction!! So after I groaned and complained about that they came up with a whole new ticket scenario: Manchester to Frankfurt! Frankfurt to Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C. to Hartford... I hate to admit using the 'I'm getting old' blah blah blah schtick , but use it I did!
My luggage would probably have made it ok and better than going in the wrong direction to Chicago -- ok, I agreed. I did have the option of cancelling the whole flight. The carriers were United and Lufthansa. I would arrive in Hartford at 6.30 pm -- it would still be light! O.K. I went with going to Frankfurt and Washington. Kind of worried about having enough time between changes, but ready to deal with the challenge.
On Monday March 19 Expedia sent me another e-mail:
Dear Expedia.co.uk Traveller,
We have received notice from Continental Airlines that they have:
*Changed the carrier for 3 of your flights.
It is important that we speak to you as soon as possible to review changes from the carrier so that we can discuss alternatives. Please contact us at ...I took a deep breath ... and then another. I called Expedia. The girl I talked to had an accent, but fortunately I was able to understand her. After discussing more alternatives. I agreed to Flying to Newark then flying to Washington, then flying to Hartford. Another flight in the wrong direction. After all that I was still on the same Washington-Hartford flight which arrived at 6.30. I did have the option to cancel altogether. It was frustrating though, considering Newark is only about 100 miles from my mother's place. However, I did not want to do the limousine thing -- explaining what I mean about that is another long post, which I will try to avoid ever writing ...
It then occurred to me that it might be interesting to see how much flights were going for if I were to start looking now. Do you know what??????? I could have booked my favourite flight -- U.S. Air to Philadelphia, Philadelphia to Hartford -- which gets in to Hartford at 4.40 p.m. and it was available for 100 pounds less than the more inconvenient flights I had chosen!
Tuesday morning (yesterday) I was discussing this with The Man -- we were due at a lunch in about an hour -- and thought it was worth calling Expedia and seeing if I could change my mind! I didn't hold high hopes for this -- but I did have the argument that I had originally wanted a flight with only one stop and a flight with one stop was what I had originally booked. I had nothing to lose and 100 pounds to gain.
I talked to Expedia. A very nice woman with an accent I could understand talked to me and said she would call the airline and see if they would agree to the cancellation -- even though the airline had already sent me a e-mail confirmation (which I received while talking to her). Since I was going out to lunch and needed to leave, she said not to worry she would leave me a message. And sure enough when I got home there was a message and the airline had agreed!!!! I needed to call Expedia with what I wanted to do. I'd already saved my preferred flight to my Expedia itineraries and was ready to 'book'.
I called Expedia back... This time it was a man and he had an accent difficult to understand. Of course I had to go through the whole thing all over again. I had explained that I'd received a message and that the airline had agreed. He looked up my file -- there were no notes to that effect. He then asked me if I was sure I wanted to cancel. After all, he explained, I was still arriving at my destination at the same time. And the Airlines don't often agree to cancel a booking. Several times I had to ask him to repeat because I couldn't understand him. He said he would have to call the Airline. I said -- but it has already been authorized! He said there was no record in my file of this. I told him that this was ridiculous, that I was not very happy and just was not good enough. He said he would call back. I hung up. I think he was still talking! (At least I did not SLAM the phone down!)
About an hour later he called back to say the Airline had agreed. I cancelled my flights! I apologised for being rude. Then I went online and booked the new flights and car. (Please U.S. Air, don't let me down...)
It is worth noting that while the car hire cancellation will be refunded within 7 to 10 days, the airline refund will take 2 to 12 weeks. Needless to say, it's The Man's credit card and he did not look to happy about that '12' week scenario possibility.
I was exhausted -- just not up to 'doing battle' anymore! But it goes to show that it doesn't always pay to book flights early.
HAPPY VERNAL EQUINOX, EVERBODY!