Travel Ain’t Always Pretty

The unexpected. It’s the only thing we can count on. That just when you think everything is lining up right, some curveball is thrown your way.

1 in 35 flights gets cancelled. It can definitely happen to you– so what to do?

That’s what happened to my husband and I as we left Green Bay Friday night. High-fiving each other on sneaking in a tour of Lambeau, getting to visit all the breweries we wanted, and overall having an amazing experience. And then David got the text. “Your flight to PHL has been cancelled. We apologize, and are working on rebooking.” We looked at each other, “What are we going to do?” David hates flying anyway, so this immediately panicked him. We have a daughter I was already set on getting home to, not to mention we didn’t have endless baby-sitters lined up. I called the airline who told me we could maybe get a flight out Sunday night (two days later), but even that wasn’t guaranteed. Immediately we knew that wasn’t a viable option, and told her to refund our tickets. Then we had to begin making our plans on the fly! (Or in our case, no-fly!)

We started calling car rental companies trying to find any that were available to to drive from Chicago to Philadelphia. Now, this is not a cheap option. Any time you rent a car and are picking up and dropping off at different locations, the price basically quadruples. (No, seriously…) So we had to decide whether to bite the bullet and just go. My husband decided it was worth it and then to keep the costs as low as possible, we knew we needed to drive through the night. We were looking at an 11 hour drive from Chicago to our home with minute stops along the way. We thought that would be the worst part.

About halfway through Indiana, we discovered it wasn’t. All of the sudden, traffic came to a complete standstill. I mean, not moving an inch. Then we see a police car fly by. Then another. Then an ambulance. Then a firetruck. We knew it was an accident, and a serious one. We couldn’t complain, someone had a much more desperate situation than us. Checked us back into our place. It did end up being an hour and a half delay at midnight. My poor husband looked so down as he watched the pouring rain hit our windshield knowing the long drive still ahead.

Once we finally got moving, we made it the rest of the way without any major hitches. David drove the majority, but I did takeover for about 2-3 hours so he could nap. And our daughter was so happy to see us it made it worth it, especially when all 3 of us got to take a nap.

So what to do if your flight is cancelled?

  1. Think of other options. Can you stay another night? Can you drive home? What makes sense in your situation?

  2. Immediately call customer service– don’t bother waiting in the lines at the airport. They can handle your problem much quicker.

  3. Ask about meal or hotel reimbursements when you call, especially if the flight is delayed more than 4 or 5 hours. In your contract, a lot of airline companies give these!

  4. Check with your credit card company and see if they give reimbursements. If you looked it with a travel credit card, the option might be there. Sometimes, they are even up to $500! This is what we are counting on when it comes to the price of our rental car!

  5. Don’t throw away your documents! These might be needed for future compensation!

The real truth is, sometimes you just need to breathe and remember there are certain things (many things) that are our of your control. It isn’t the end of the world, and it’s an important lesson to take with you even after you leave the airport. And one that has admittedly helped me in my daily life. That’s the thing about handling an obstacle when travelling– it’s usually very memorable, and makes you more uncomfortable because you have to think differently than you would at home. You have to decide what’s important to you in that moment. You have to take a risky course of action perhaps. And then when it’s done, you look back and you remember how badass you were handling it. And all of the sudden, this completely crap moment becomes the one you are bragging about to your friends. It’s the one that made you grow, and for that, be grateful.

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