It seemed as though the universe was not impressed at my travel plans and did everything in its power to dissuade me. It all began with Zoom Airlines. It looked like the perfect ticket. Direct flight from Calgary to Glasgow and direct back from Paris to Calgary. I received an email while in Guatemala informing me that Zoom was now indeed bankrupt and all refund requests were to be made through the credit card company. Trying to get a refund through my credit card is uncertain as they merely said they would “look into the matter” giving me little comfort when other credit card companies such as Mastercard were giving assurances of 100% refund. Sending a legal-esque letter informing them of my complaint and signing it off with the comments that “I hope finds the enclosed requested information satisfactory and I trust that my matter would be resolved in a timely manner” did little to ease my worries.
Upon re-booking, I fell back on the good ol' Expedia. Keely and I decided to try and make a stop in Dubai while in Europe as the packages were cheaper than from Canada. Not wanting to fly with
the cheapest option, Aeroflot (via Moscow... visions of being thrown in Russian jail for not having a visa danced in my mind) ,we booked with Alitalia (again not knowing anything on the financial security or lack of in this airline). Funny enough, upon mentioning Alitalia to at least four separate people, they all exclaimed that had I asked them they would have easily told me to avoid Alitalia on the basis of being one of the worst airlines in their opinion (from travel delays to poor service, etc etc) Lesson number one learned: when booking airline tickets, always google + bankruptcy before booking to figure out odds of you actually flying on that day with that airline.
Lesson two learned: never book cross-continent flights with Expedia. My flight to Glasgow with Air Canada said confirmed and paid for. Oddly enough, I couldn't choose my seat but I thought that was merely part of buying an e-ticket. In actuality, what I did book (and what was not mentioned anywhere on the ticket) was a standby ticket which spooked me considering I had hotels and other flights lined up. Even the ticket agent made
the passing comment that booking through a travel agent was worth the extra dollars spent to ensure you had a confirmed seat. Luckily, I did get a seat aboard the flight but barely got on since the flight was oversold. But wait, this story gets even better! My flight home involved a flight from Paris to London with Air France and then London to Calgary with Air Canada. Expedia suggested this flight itinerary (with a mere hour and a half layover) without hinting that my ticket home was actually two separate journeys (my fault this time for not realizing that Air Canada and Air France were not codeshare/air alliance partners). I'm not sure how realistically Expedia expected me to pick up my luggage in London and then re-check in with Air Canada before their counter closed at a different terminal half way across the airport.
Lesson three learned: Even if your airline doesn't go bankrupt, expect the worst because its not a far stretch of the imagination. Due to Alitalia's financial difficulties, their planes were parked on the far outskirts of the tarmac. Passengers were required to check in through the regular departure gate and then take
a bus that would shuttle us to the airplane where we then crossed the tarmac and climbed up the stairs. What was supposed to be a generous 1h 45 min layover in Rome from Paris on our way to Dubai turned into an overnight excursion in Lido Ostia as this flight was delayed with every reason possible: delay in boarding the bus, delay in being allowed off the bus, plane delay on the tarmac, fog/poor weather conditions, losing holding position and falling back in queue for takeoff, etc etc. On the plus side, I did get to have some fabulous gelato, pizza and revisit Ostia Antica. The included meals courtesy of Air Alitalia even included a bottle of wine per meal.
Lesson four learned: If multiple connecting flights are inevitable, avoid multiple airlines. It usually results in having to get your next ticket at that destination (making me think I've only reserved standby tickets and makes me uneasy when the expected layover is a mere 1-1.5 hours crossing several terminals). This results in certain lost luggage. Miraculously, I've made two of the four flights on my 20 hour journey home (Dubai-Rome-Paris-London-Calgary) via Alitalia, Air France and Air
Canada but having my luggage accompany me is unlikely. I'm not sure if the luggage actually left Dubai (or whether the Nyquil we brought along is currently being sold on the black market souq in Dubai) or the contents of the suitcase will be auctioned off in Rome if Alitalia goes bankrupt. Taking pictures of your luggage may help, but I'm not entirely sure of how to get money back out of an airline based in France. Lost luggage insurance is supposed to be an added feature on my credit card though looking through the insurance fine print, it looks to be an uphill battle. Especially with the number of required forms to be attached with claim. Failure to provide proper forms = no dice/claim being delayed. Update: my baggage may actually have been located strangely enough and could be delivered to me in Canada? Apparently though, bringing back foie gras in a jar is an immigration no-no. Canned foie gras is a-ok but must be kept in your checked luggage as its considered a liquid (by Paris Charles de Gaulle security no less)
I'm intrigued as to what the world has to offer. The bizarre, cheesy, breathtaking and absolutely tourist oriented sights are worth pursuing. I don't think I'll ever stop exploring... or travelling. The blog is a quirky take on what unfolds around me. Some entries are factually accurate and others are simply my impressions at the time. I do appreciate comments, corrections and feedback but please do not post a link to your web blog as a correct example of how I should interpret/understand a particular place along my travels.
Travelling next to: Egypt?
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