Vacation nightmare

UVMA few months ago I picked up my boys after work when we noticed a UVM bumper sticker.  What’s that?  We googled it and saw a beautiful city on Lake Champlain 40 minutes South of Canada and decided to visit.  We picked out a direct flight on Expedia, upgraded to a suite and soon it was vacation time for me and my two sons on July 30th.  Our 56 minute direct flight from Philadelphia to Burlington Thursday evening 7/30 was canceled due to weather.  It started with a 4:30pm automated call Thursday that our 10pm flight was canceled.  I called American Airlines and they said we could depart out of Harrisburg at 7:18pm so we raced to the airport.  We thought we just made it but then discovered the flight was delayed due to mechanical problems.  We finally arrived at Dulles Airport in Washington DC at 10pm (I thought it was still a direct flight – Dulles wasn’t mentioned?)  Arriving at 10pm in Dulles,  we missed our connection to Burlington, VT.  The United gate agent after almost 2 hours told us the best she could do was a 5:30pm Friday flight Friday to LaGuardia and then a 10pm flight to Burlington which would put us in Burlington, VT at 11:11pm Friday night.  Also, she could not get print us boarding passes and she told us to leave the airport and come back at 2pm Friday.

Dulles agentI asked about hotel accommodations and was told “due to weather,” and the cancelation of our original flight, it was on us.  They gave us a pink slip for a discounted hotel as if it was a huge favor and when calling the number on the slip, the recording said immediately that they were sold out. We exited Dulles and I used the Hotels Tonight app to find a room at Aloft 4 miles away for $68.   I called United when I woke up and after 2 hours I was told nothing was available Friday or Saturday to Burlington and “didn’t I know it was a busy Summer travel weekend?”  The agent was attempting to find a way back to Harrisburg when she found 3 seats direct to Burlington on the Friday 10pm flight so we went with that.

We came back to the airport Friday and while waiting at the gate we were next to a 5:30pm direct flightDulles vouchers to Burlington.  The announcement was, “we are looking for 3 volunteers to give up your seat, in return we’ll put you on the next flight to Burlington tomorrow, provide hotel accommodations and give you $400 in credit which must be used in one year.”  What?!?!?!  I went to customer service and explained that I got nothing for my trip with a 30-hour delay.  He sympathized and gave us three $7 food vouchers that are accepted by “participating vendors” in the airport.

Our 10pm 7/31 Dulles flight departed at 11:30pm and we arrived early Sat morning in Burlington.  We took a cab to our hotel and hopefully this is the last cab ride of my life.  The driver at 1:30am couldn’t get his Square to process my credit card and he asked me for help.  I reached in and it worked.  The cabbie asked, “got your bags?” I confirmed, and off he went without getting out of the cab.  A few steps later, I realized I left my iPhone on his roof and thanks to Find my iPhone we recovered it a half mile down the road, albeit with a broken screen.

We checked in to the Doubletree about 2am Saturday, 8/1 to discover we are getting the base room – not the Suite that I paid for.  It had only one bed and I went back to the front desk who apologized immediately, said they are sold out and gave me a breakfast voucher for 3.  I slept on the floor.

Burlington trip todayPulling up the exact same flights and room the pic to the left shows what’s available for what cost today. In the morning, I called Expedia and when the agent couldn’t help, I was transferred to a supervisor “Alex R.”  I was told they didn’t have a record of me upgrading my hotel room.  I explained that the round-trip air for each of us was under $330 and I paid $1,834 for Hotel and Air.  Four nights for around $850 at the Burlington Doubletree was over list price.  She said that “since I booked the trip over thirty days ago, she couldn’t go back that far.  I asked for her last name, “no.”   I asked for her email, a direct phone number, to speak with her boss, and she said “no.” I felt like I was talking to Consuela from Family Guy.

I went back to the front desk at the hotel two employees told me this is a common occurrence with Expedia. “They expect us to make good and we’re often sold out.”  The next day they gave us another base room with two double beds and said we could use both rooms but I declined the 2nd room.  I was thrilled to have a bed and Kenny exclaimed, “yeah!” when I told him we got a 2nd bed.  It was the first smile of my trip.

Segway BurlingtonThe next day we did a Segway tour for $70/person for an hour.  This was amazing.  We got home around 6pm and my fish, err boys, went for a swim in the hotel pool.  Yours truly passed out.  When the boys got back we made a “Sunday Fun Day” list and slept in till 10am.  It took us about a full day to get our energy back after the long trip out.

Sunday we went to the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Waterbury, shopping, to the Echo Museum on the Waterfront (where we discovered Kinetix sand) and we ate at American Flatbread Pizza – yummmmmm.  Our waiter said a small pizza serves 1 and a large serves 2.  Ok, we are three manly men so we ordered 3 large pizzas full of the most amazing, local farm-sourced ingredients and yup, you half bakedguessed it, out comes three 16” pizzas.  Serves 2??  Who, Cheech and Chong?

We took Uber everywhere and in all 10 trips I rated my driver 5 stars out of 5.  I also found out that the Uber drivers rate their passengers too.  Uber rocks – every trip was great, clean, informative and fun.
There is no payment transaction with the driver and one driver even had free chips, drinks and Peppermint Patties.

A clerk in a local convenient store noticed my broken iPhone screen and shared that the small store across from our hotel repairs them.  I walked over with Gregory about 4pm on Sunday.  I asked how much for a new screen on my  6+?  The response was “$225.”  “Ok, sure.”  The gal started taking my name and number when her co-worker came out from the back and started asking me questions, “What hotel are you staying at?”  I pointed with my thumb across the street.  “What airline are you flying?  What time is your flight? Where do you live? When do you want your phone back?” I did not answer his questions and just responded, “why?”

“Because there are many people ahead of you” as he pointed to a $19.99 sign for expedited service.  I said, “that’s ok, I want it within an hour and I don’t want to pay extra.”  The short version is he started contradicting himself, now we didn’t have to pay more but again, when do I want my phone back?  I took it out of his hands and quickly exited the store.   I have never been asked to wait more than an hour.  Pretty sure I avoided fraud or identity theft.  When I got home the Apple Store replaced my glass for $129.

ExpediaExpedia, Inc. is an American-based parent company to several global online travel brands including Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Hotwire.com, trivago, Egencia, Venere.com, Expedia Local Expert, Classic Vacations, Expedia CruiseShipCenters and eLong.  I will never use them again.

The boys were troopers – I am so blessed with wonderful children.  As I told them, I would do it Tipall over and I treasure every opportunity to be with them.   When we checked out of our hotel we left the rest of the six pack I didn’t finish, the leftover pizza and a small tip.  What a trip!

One Response to “Vacation nightmare”

  1. wcuram Says:

    Fun to read good story telling. I would have killed somebody so props to you too. Glad your boys hung in there.

    Think back to that bumper sticker. Had you left a minute later. Took a different turn. Or had that person not had that sticker. Lol.

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