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Holiday to Florida with Florida4less
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Unread 22 Jun 18, 12:00 PM  
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Kiddlywinks
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Join Date: Jul 13
The grand Oz reunion Aug/Sep 2018 Pre trip report (part 1)

So having decided to commit to doing a trip report for our Aussie journey, I guess I need to introduce us all again.

There's myself, 50 this year (Whilst we're out there)
DD who was 21 in April
and DS who will be 18 in September, again, whilst we're out there

You will notice that we have all got BIG birthdays this year, and we'd already decided we had to do something MASSIVE to celebrate, back in 2016.
We were originally planning on going back to Florida after the success of my last trip/DD & DS's first ever trip, over Christmas 2015, as it was very definitely our 'happy place', however, following an emotional video call with some friends of mine in Australia, J & L, DD had been looking at flights during the call, and it wasn't as unattainable to go visit them as I'd thought.
It would cost a little less than another Florida trip, and as DD said, we can always do Florida in 2021/22 and enjoy their 50th birthday celebrations. SOLD!

J & L have been back in Australia for almost 20 years, and J had a horrible health scare a few years ago, where it was discovered she had several brain aneurysms.
Medics have 'tied' most of them off, but she still has a couple that they weren't able to treat, basically leaving ticking time bombs, so the chances of them ever coming back across the pond to visit us is extremely slim

L has also finally given up trying to persuade me to move over there, I used to joke that I couldn't go and visit as I'd never come back , and whilst it was funny, I do think there was an element of truth in there Particularly when they'd even offered, multiple times, to sponsor me
(I have checked over the years and would have been accepted on skills, but now I would be classed as too old )

DD is training to be an accountant, and the exams route she's taken means, if she wanted to make the move, she could.
So she might use this trip to see what life out there could be like, but she says she's too much of a home bird to leave


SO, I digress... (I do that a lot, apologies lol)
Having costed up flights, and accommodation for our preferred travel destinations whilst over there - Sydney (can't do Oz and not visit Sydney), Ayers Rock (Ditto) - we worked out that it was very doable, and contacted J & L to see if they'd like a visitor or 3
They were as enthusiastic and excited as we were, yaaay!

Whilst obviously our priority was/is to spend time together, I didn't want them to feel obligated to keep us with them for the whole trip, - they still had jobs and lives that needed to go on despite us landing on their doorstep lol.
Having arranged to go to them for the start, and towards the end of our trip, we set about price checking flights, with the intention of going for 17 nights in 2018.

Prices were sooo varied! Cheapest we saw was in the black friday sales 2016 for travel in 2017 @ 559 return. Didn't see it that low ever again
To be fair, we could go anytime, I'm self employed, DD's working, and DS is flying through college (A*'s all the way the little brain box - so doubt they'd mind too much if he took time off during term time so long as he kept on top of his work) but I don't do very well in heat, love the sun, struggle with heat, so going in their winter made sense, but not at 1200

Then, we had to commit to searching for a specific time period. DD was head hunted and needed to give them notice of holiday dates, DS is in his last year of Army cadets, and wanted to milk every trip available to him as it would be his last as a cadet (He is thinking about being an adult instructor but 'it wouldn't be the same' apparently), so we decided on August/September time 2018.

DD's new employer was very forgiving, in that she could only give a rough time scale as flights hadn't been released when she started, and they agreed to honour the 3 weeks she'd need off, once she had a firm date.
The pressure was on eek!

We looked daily, skyscanner, momondo, student universe, oh we looked at them all!
I must have wasted days of my life trying to get the best bargain

In almost 18 months we hadn't seen prices go as low as we'd seen when we couldn't book, so we were aiming for less than 800 preferably less than 750, preferably with Singapore Airlines, due to the fact that we could earn Virgin Miles with them (eyes still on the Florida trip guys )

Then, there it was... in January... a flight we were happy to do, at a price we were happy to pay (Dibb mentality paying off right there lol)

Manchester to Singapore to Melbourne Out on 25th August
Melbourne to Singapore to Amsterdam to Manchester back 13th September
@728 return each

Seriously, I couldn't book it quickly enough

But oh no, the online booking system didn't want to play
I went through the whole buying process, input my card details, pressed enter... it hung! WHAT?! Noooooooo!
It gave me a booking reference via email, I checked my card and payment was showing as pending, but I couldn't get in to check the booking.

Checked the site again, price had gone up by 100

Managed to track down a contact number, called them, explained what had happened, gave the booking reference received, when she checked, she could see the payment had been rejected and the booking cancelled (?!)
Went through the whole palaver of trying to pay again, rejected a second time
What was going on?! It was a new card, I know the funds were there... Checked the balance, and BOTH payments were now showing as pending
By this point, I had an appointment to go to, so couldn't stay on the phone any longer to sort it out (landline call) so, the very nice lady agreed to hold the booking for 24hrs for me to give me time to sort the problem out - which was going to be fun as I didn't know what the problem even was!)
Off I trots to my appointment, confused, frustrated, and feeling particularly stressed, trying to figure out mentally what I'll need to do when I get home, to find out what on earth is going on, when, just as I get to where I needed to be, my mobile rings.
It's the credit card company, there's been some unusual activity on the account

I explain what's happened, they're happy, but warn me it can take up to 3 days for the funds to show as available again
So, unless nice Singapore Airlines lady will keep the fare at the original price till the funds are back, we might have to start flight searching all over again

I attend my appointment, get home, and call Singapore back.
I get put through to the lady I spoke to, explained what had happened, and ask if she can hold the fare pretty please with a cherry on top?
She says she needs to get confirmation she can do that from a manager and puts me on hold...
Whilst I'm on hold, I check my balance on my credit card app, and blow me down with a feather, both pending payments have been cancelled and we're good to go!
She comes back to me, with 'Manager (computer) says no' , so I ask if we can try running the payment through again, as it looks like the funds are already back.
Go through to payments, they do what they do, and bingo! Payment goes through! Finally!

I swear that was the longest 3 hours of my life

Wait for email confirmation to come through, makes it all official somehow doesn't it lol, prints it all off, and then have to wait for DD and DS to come home, and for J & L to wake up, so I can give them all the news:
WE'RE COMING TO OZ!

You have no idea what an excited video call that was I tell ya
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Dec 1991 - HoJo Kissimmee
Dec 2015 - Back to Disney Trip Report Finally got to go back!
August 2018 - Australia baby! The grand Oz Reunion
August 2022 - Disney's 50th for sure
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The grand Oz Reunion
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Unread 25 Jun 18, 10:30 PM  
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Andi
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Join Date: Mar 07
Great start and really looking forward to reading part two, which I see is ready.

That was a very stressful experience trying to book the flights but great that you got it sorted out.
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International Drive - 2002, All Star Movies - 2005, Renaissance at Seaworld - 2008, Rosen Plaza & POFQ - 2010, Saratoga Springs Resort - 2012, Hotel New York DLP 2013, Rosen Plaza and Old Key West 2014, Animal Kingdom Lodge, BLT & SSR July 2015, Crowne Plaza NYC, AKL, Cabana Bay, AKL - 2017, Crowne Plaza NYC April 2018, Rosen Plaza, AKL and GFV - August 2018, RCI Cruise August 2019
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