Mad Dash to Prevent the Paw-Paw From Hitting the Fan (Part 1)

Gareth and I are visiting Spain for two weeks in November 2010. We started planning this holiday roundabout a year ago, but since there is now only a month and a half left before we depart, the time had come to get all the arrangements in place and get everything sorted out. Everything had gone fairly smoothly up to now, when suddenly one disaster after another started popping up.

The idea was to visit Spain with Gareth’s parents and his brother and wife for the two weeks before and after his mother’s 60th birthday. Since they all live in Wales and we only get to see them every two years, we thought it would be a nice treat for the whole family to spend some time together in the warmest part of Europe for that time of the year. Everyone was very excited about the idea, and I went ahead and booked and paid for accommodation.

Unfortunately, a few months ago, Gareth’s brother and wife let us know that they would not be able to make it. We were all disappointed, but determined that it would not stop us from going ahead as planned without them and would send them a “Wish You Were Here” postcard from Malaga.

About four months ago I booked and paid for our plane tickets to Spain online via Iberia Airlines. Two weeks later I received a phone call from them stating that the flight I had booked had been cancelled and we could either fly a day earlier or a day later. This didn’t suit me at the time, so I told them to cancel the tickets. I tried every other airline, but in the end determined it would still be more economical to fly with Iberia and stay over one night, in Madrid perhaps, than to fly with someone else on the same day. So I went ahead and booked the tickets with Iberia again, but this time for the Thursday evening, rather than the Friday. Exactly two weeks later I received another phone call from Iberia, telling me that this flight too had been cancelled and I could either fly a day earlier or a day later now. A day later? I asked, baffled. Isn’t that the day of my original flight that was cancelled? Yes, the woman told me, but that flight is now once again available. I was a bit dubious about the whole thing, but since I had very little choice, I went with the day later option.

Two weeks ago I went to go and buy Euros for our trip. It was then that I realised that my plane tickets had been issued in my married name (Jones), while my passport was still in my maiden name (Le Roux)! I had completely forgotten about this little detail when I booked the second pair of tickets! Of course, the Bureau de Change would not let my buy money when my plane ticket didn’t correspond with my passport, and I knew they wouldn’t let me get on the plane like that either.

The next day I phoned Iberia and, after a very frustrating 15 minutes trying to get hold of the correct person at the correct department, pleaded with the agent to let me change my surname on the ticket. She was very understanding and said that this kind of thing happened all the time, but that there would be a fee involved (in the region of R700!) and she would need to get approval from head office to make the change. She promised to phone me back that same afternoon, once she had approval and could confirm the fee. While that amount of money is nothing to laugh at, I was relieved to know that the problem could easily be sorted out.

That day and the next day passed without a word from her. I phoned them myself the next day, but couldn’t remember the lady’s name and ended up speaking to another woman who was extremely rude and almost shouted at me that name changes were not allowed.

It was time to take drastic action. But I’ll tell you more about that in the next post.

For more posts in the Spain 2010 series, click here.

Have you ever had a similar struggle with plane tickets or another silly mistake you made? Tell us about it!

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