My trip to Europe this week was supposed to be a little loose on the scheduling. I’m mostly still doing work on US hours, but had some events in Europe as well spready across a 7-day span so I figured I’d spend the intervening days exploring a new city or relaxing or something along the way. And, because I’m me, I also wanted to try a couple new airlines and airports while I’m in the area. I mostly got it right, but a last minute change did not go quite as expected.
Getting to London was easy enough and the Air Antwerp flight from London to Antwerp was a little quirky but fun.
— Seth Miller (@WandrMe) January 17, 2020
A train from there to Wuppertal got me a ride on the hanging monorail known as the Schwebebahn, a very cool experience.
This is what I'm in Wuppertal for today. Looking forward to going for a ride. But first, a nap. pic.twitter.com/kR4nYDODGv
— Seth Miller (@WandrMe) January 18, 2020
My plan for Sunday was to eventually find my way to Weeze, a small German town on the Dutch border that happens to have an airport with Ryanair flights. A hop from there to Alicante was cheap enough for my travel budget and a couple nights on the southern coast of Spain seemed like a good way to relax before I needed to be in Barcelona for an event at the end of the week.
When I woke up this morning, however, I had second thoughts. The logistics of an overnight in Weeze were not great. Limited hotel and dining options and getting to the airport at 5a looked to be neither a pleasant nor inexpensive task. Given the plethora of LCCs in Europe I decided to change my itinerary, or at least see if that was viable. And because either Alicante or Barcelona would fit my overall schedule I searched for both. With a price point under $100 and an extra hotel night for $50ish (similar to what I’d pay in Weeze anyways) I figured that was a smart spend and confirmed both, packed my bag and hopped on the train to Dusseldorf Airport.
Halfway through the ride I pulled up my mobile boarding pass and realized I’d made a rather unfortunate mistake. My flight is booked to Barcelona. My hotel is booked in Alicante. That’s not a great plan.
I do need to be in Barcelona at the end of the week and there weren’t great fares to continue on to Alicante tonight. Also, I don’t really want the extra flying. Spending time on the ground Wednesday (I’m throwing away tickets previously booked for Monday NRN-ALC and Wednesday ALC-BCN) instead of in the air will let me get more work done and adding hotel nights in Barcelona proved to be net even on the hotel costs I had in Alicante. Fortunately and by some strange twist of fate, the hotel I’d booked there was refundable. That’s rare for me but I won’t lose money on that part of the trip.
This probably isn’t the first time I’ve booked a flight to the wrong city while searching multiple options. But I’m pretty sure this is the first time I didn’t catch the error before it was too late to change the flight. Fortunately the resultant outlay is within my overall budget for this trip. But I definitely felt like a bit of an idiot when I realized my mistake.
Also, sorry to Alicante. I’ll get down to visit eventually, I hope.
This change, and also my recent adjustment to the South Asia itinerary got me to thinking. Between standby, same-day change and just buying new tickets I think probably 30-50% of my travels end up on a different flight than when I start the booking. Even on the way to Europe this week I changed, getting out of Boston an hour earlier than initially intended. That number seems ridiculously high to me, but I’m not really sure. How often are you changing flights after booking a ticket??
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