By Sheryl Smolkin
Read this article and comments at Moneyville.ca
If I had carefully checked the dates on my airline tickets to and from Fort Lauderdale where we embarked on a 10 day Panama cruise I could have saved us over $1,000 and a whole lot of aggravation.
I selected the cruise in part, because my husband gets Christmas week off in addition to his regular vacation, so by leaving December 28th and returning at the end of the following week, he only had to take four vacation days.
The cruise was purchased through our travel agent and I booked the airline tickets separately using MBNA airline points. For some reason I thought the cruise disembarked on Saturday January 7th and I booked an Air Canada flight home at 10:00 PM the same day. In fact, when chatting with a fellow passenger on New Year’s Day, I discovered to my horror that the ship only docked in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday January 8th.
At first we thought we could rebook the tickets on Sunday for $150 a ticket. However searches on the Air Canada website revealed that there were only two seats in executive class available on the same flight leaving Sunday and they would cost $2,000 for each of us one way! Nothing else was available until the following Wednesday at a reasonable price.
Further searches on Expedia for other airlines revealed that even with one or more stops in the U.S. we would be out thousands of dollars if we tried to book a new ticket on Sunday – the day before most Toronto students returned to school after the Christmas break.
Then my husband came up with the brilliant idea that we try and book a flight from Grand Cayman (our last port before a final day at sea) to Florida. We were able to get two tickets on American Airlines from Grand Cayman to Miami on Friday afternoon for $540 and a cab to Fort Lauderdale for $100. A hotel for the night before we flew out on the flight we originally booked was about $225 in total plus we paid for several unexpected restaurant meals.
We didn’t mind missing the last 11/2 days of our cruise much because all along we thought it was going to end one day earlier. Also, we actually had a lovely day in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday before we headed to the airport. But it really hurt to fork out another $1,000 because of my dumb mistake.
The good news is we still had a great time, probably because my husband was so focused on finding a solution that he didn’t give me a hard time for creating the problem. And in spite of my expensive glitch, he is still not interested in taking on the time-consuming and thankless responsibility for arranging future family travel.