When traveling, it seems sometimes when you have the least room for error, the biggest problems occur. My biggest travel disaster was when our British Airways flight to Europe was cancelled, causing us to miss a Mediterranean cruise.
We had a cruise booked on Crystal Cruises from Rome to Venice and needed to be in Rome on a certain day to board the ship. We were living in Tucson at the time and flew first to New York aboard Southwest Airlines without any problem. We were then scheduled to catch a British Airways flight to London, then connect there to another British Airways flight to Rome. I remember friends telling us to try to fly Alitalia direct to Italy, but I heard many negative things about them as well, so we decided to fly British Airways.
The flight plan was to take a dinner-time flight from New York, arriving early the next morning. Normally the flight, with the time change, takes twelve hours. So we would leave New York around 6 p.m. and arrive around 6 a.m. local London time. We could then catch our 8:30 a.m. flight to Rome and make it to the cruise ship easily by noon or 1 p.m.
The problem was we left ourselves no room for error. The flight to London was cancelled, as was the next one, which left an hour later. The flights later in the evening would put us into London too late to make the Rome flight. We began to realize we would miss our cruise. British Airways was very unhelpful in doing anything, but there was not much we could do, other than try to find a flight direct to Rome from New York on the spot. We tried, but the prices were several thousand dollars per ticket. We were lucky in that we booked all this through a reputable travel agent and she had a good relationship with the cruise line. We called her, and she was able to coordinate new airline tickets for a few days later and rebook the cruise, at no charge. We ended up spending a few unexpected days in New York, where fortunately we stayed with our daughter at her apartment.
How to avoid it
If you are flying to another city to make a cruise or tour, consider arriving a day early and booking a night at the airport hotel or one near the cruise terminal. The cost of one night in a hotel room may be well worth it as insurance against missing the cruise or tour. It also gives some leeway, should you be delayed, there is an extra day to offer a buffer. Review available trip insurance to ensure it covers missed or cancelled flights. Also booking the air travel through the cruise or tour company, although it may be more expensive can also help make sure they are responsible for any delays or cancellations. Booking travel through a travel agent can also help in these circumstances. It’s what saved us.
More from this contributor:
Visiting the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Rouen, France
A Guide to Golf Cruises
Cruise Safety Tips for Seniors