Friday (No)Flyday: Foiled by a January Hurricane


What do you do when a freak storm is bearing down on your travel destination, an archipelago of islands in the middle of the  Atlantic Ocean? Well, for starters, don’t go. That’s the decision I made this morning in Lisbon, scrapping a planned trip to the Azores including a flight on the SATA A310. And it wasn’t that hard a decision to make. The bulk of the storm is passing west of Sao Miguel but forecasts called for Tropical Storm strength winds and rains for the 12+ hours after our scheduled arrival. Even if the plane got there that’s not the sort of weather I seek out. Plus there were some concerns about getting out of the islands on Saturday morning on my scheduled departure. Going was a bad idea, though that doesn’t mean I tried to avoid making it – I was looking forward to flying the A310 and the quick stop in Ponta Delgada – but not going was the smart move. So what to do about my ticket?

SATA-boarding-pass

When I made the decision to bail the flight was still showing as on time. In theory that would make it harder to convince the airline to give me a refund. Eventually the flight posted a 3 hour delay making it much easier to request a refund. Except that meant speaking with someone from the airline and getting through to SATA on the phone proved most challenging. No surprise, given that a hurricane is bearing down on the island, but when the phone system offered me a call-back within 48 hours I was pretty sure it was a lost cause. So I turned to the credit card company instead.

Trip Cancellation coverage is a common feature from many credit cards, though the fine print varies. In my case I’m hoping that this clause covers it:

Severe weather, which prevents a reasonable and prudent person from beginning or continuing on a Covered Trip

Not that I frequently consider my travel decisions reasonable nor prudent, but in this case I think I should be okay.

Duoro-river-crossing
Crossing the Duoro river into Porto this afternoon by train rather than flying in to the rain.

And then, of course, there is plan C. Which is to just suck it up. I’d be out the $120 or so for the ticket but I saved $50+ on the rental car I won’t be getting so I’ve already recouped some of my losses. Plus I now get to try the Portuguese high-speed rail line from Lisbon to Porto. And it is pretty nice so far.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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