In case you missed it, I really fell hard for Greece last year. That two week trip had provided a sampling of sights and this year, I intended to go back with more focus, spending 2020’s two weeks in just three locations. Two of the planned locations were repeats from last year, places I wanted to explore more deeply.
When this whole Covid-19 thing started getting really ugly, I couldn’t imagine my trip planned for an entire 4 months into the future wouldn’t occur as scheduled. What do I know? This is my first pandemic.
In early April, my transatlantic flights were cancelled by American Airlines. Receiving a refund is in process and has been fairly painless so far. Not willing to immediately declare my trip cancelled, I looked for other travel options. I’ve been keeping up on reports out of Europe about the havoc from this international health crisis and I’m in contact with two people in Greece, one in Athens, one on a larger island. After considering the information I was receiving, I believed there was still a solid possibility that Greece would be open for mid-July.
Taking advantage of a great price, ($530 r/t w luggage), I bought a new ticket to get me to Athens and, presumably, back. The transaction felt pretty risk free because if the flight were cancelled, I would have a year from purchase to use the voucher. Also, United has been my choice in recent years for their (formerly) nonstop EWK to PSP flight for the holidays. I could use the credit then.
Barely two weeks later, that nonstop United flight was cancelled. Adding insult to injury,* I hadn’t even received the courtesy of an email notification. I had stumbled on the cancellation as I was seeking my details about my reservation and noted a message in my United mailbox.
After speaking with a customer service representative, I felt pretty comfortable about the situation. It seemed that my voucher would entitle (not a word I often own) me to a comparable ticket on a future flight even if there was a price increase. Cool.
I took a moment yesterday to take a look at flight availability. There’ve been some positive indicators around much of the world and many people want to start moving around again. Obviously, I’m one of them. Very quickly, going old school with Travelocity, I located a newly scheduled United flight on my preferred days. The seats were much more expensive, but I phoned United and, again, received capable and professional assistance. I was booked on the flight for my previously scheduled dates and charged no additional money, despite the fare now being approximately twice as much as I had paid last month.
So, maybe third time’s the charm?
As I said in a travel site post:
If my flight remains scheduled and my hosts in Greece still want me to come and the airports are open and I’ve met all the conditions in place required for traveling, I intend to go to Greece this summer. If I am unable to meet these standards, I won’t go. I’ve sheltered in place, worked from home, abided by social distancing, wear a mask as necessary and wash my hands meticulously and frequently. I’ve accepted all of the recommendations set forth by the government, so if the government loosens restrictions, I will continue to use their rules to guide me. I’ve adjusted my plans (canceled 2 weeks in Spain preceding Greece) to minimize risk and am traveling alone. I’m not reckless, but as an adult I can make decisions for myself.
There’s no tragedy in my staying home, as necessary, but there’s no crime in my popping open a bottle of Assyrtiko and making a wish, either.
How are you managing anticipated travel plans and arrangements?
*this is obvious hyperbole, friends..