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Unread 28 Sep 19, 09:44 PM  
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sandr
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The One With No Rest Days- Pre Trip Report- It all went a bit wrong...

I had a dream a week or so ago that we had arrived in Florida and I couldnt stop crying because I was so excited. I woke up and decided that today was the day I was going to choose the hotel for the second week of our trip. We had originally decided to just book a very cheap I-Drive hotel. When I looked at the very cheap hotels (sort booking.com lowest to highest!) I was a little underwhelmed. They all looked ok but then I read reviews about cockroaches and stains on bedsheets. Im well aware that we will be spending minimal time in our room but it needs to be ok-ish.
Surprisingly, Universals Endless Summer Resort was coming up quite cheap. I had originally budgeted 450 for the second hotel, and this was coming up at 574 for the week. I booked it. Probably the most impulsive decision of this booking process so far but I blame the dream, it got me excited.
The resort looks great, its close to the Universal parks and it looks clean. It only stretched the budget a little, and because we are staying there I decided that a car was literally pointless, so that saved us money too! What could go wrong?

Well, a lot.

A few hours later, news hit that Thomas Cook might be going bust. Yup, Thomas Cook who were meant to be flying us to Orlando. Thomas Cook who gave me amazing value flights and I was so insanely happy.
I quickly checked what would the consequences be should the worst happen. We had only booked flights and thanks to my smart Mother, we booked on a credit card so we should be entitled to a refund. I quickly checked Virgins prices and they were averaging around 400 per person, much cheaper than when I booked with Thomas Cook so I figured it will all be fine!

Monday morning I woke up to a text from my smart Mother telling me that Thomas Cook have gone bust. I checked Virgin again. Flights were now 1500 each. Crap.

What followed is days of stressing, panicking, obsessively checking flights, and tweeting Watchdog about the sheer greed of Virgin. Direct flights just went up and up and at one point, Virgin wanted over 4000 to take us to my Happy Place. I tried everything, I tried flying from any UK airport but all direct flights were coming up so expensive.

This holiday is a huge stretch for us financially, and as much as I wanted to I couldnt materialise money to re-book fights at this amount and I was getting so upset that we would have to cancel all together. To make things worse, HSBC told us they basically dunno when we will get our refund on Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act and it could be any time at all. Really helpful, thanks.

Today I finally rebooked flights after many different proposed routes and lists of pros and cons. We are flying indirect with Virgin and Delta (booked via KLM) at a total cost of 895. The journey out is going to take almost 14 hours and Im not looking forward to it, but what matters is that we are still going. We are going to see it as an adventure. A long and uncomfortable adventure.
Ive been able to book our seats for the short Delta flights, but Ive not worked out how to do it for Virgin yet. Apparently its not possible to pay for an extra suitcase coming home, so Im basically going to take one outfit with me and wear what I buy!

Its not ideal and its really messed with my plans and the control freak inside my brain is having a meltdown, but I know that there are lots of people worse off than us. Had we booked on a debit card, our holiday would be cancelled now as we simply couldnt have afforded to pay for flights twice.

But, we are still going to Florida. Just!
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Unread 28 Sep 19, 10:38 PM  
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taylaboo
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Have a great time when you get there. You deserve it after all the hassle rebooking flights.
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Unread 28 Sep 19, 10:40 PM  
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sandr
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Thank you! I know it could be SO much worse, but no amount of planning can account for things like this! Just so lucky we still get to go and now I can be excited again!
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Unread 29 Sep 19, 08:57 AM  
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duchy
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Originally Posted by sandr View Post
Thank you! I know it could be SO much worse, but no amount of planning can account for things like this! Just so lucky we still get to go and now I can be excited again!
Remember with indirect you'll save time at Orlando as you'll already have cleared customs and immigration so can just grab your bags and run which I always feel is a real plus and off sets some of the inconvenience of indirect. I also tend to get outside and breathe some unprocessed air between flights if I have time too.
Monday was awful. I had two different sets of friends who were both booked to fly to Vegas on the Thursday. The first was with Condor so right up to Thursday morning it looked OK but ultimately didn't happen and as it was flight only and she paid by PayPal they lost it all.
The second friend was on a TC package but BA flights. BA were really unhelpful, the TC confirmation had the BA locator wrong so the agent told her there was no way to retrieve the booking. After great hilarity from my friends as I stood in a pub garden trying to explain to a complete technophobe how to install the BA app on her phone (I was forty miles from home) to confirm the reference really was wrong I got her to call BA back and told her to ask them to retrieve the booking by name and flight number (why the first agent didn't do this is beyond me , its SOP) and she was assured her tickets were fine , amazingly even her Vegas hotel was prepaid so all she lost was her transfers , no big deal for Vegas as it's a really short journey with shuttles for $5 each way or a cabUber for $20.
The fare gouging by Virgin was unbelievably bad . They could have created oodles of goodwill and gained loads of new customers loyal to them but they chose the quick buck route.

Edited at 09:12 AM.
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