The Honeymoon That Wasn’t

I’ve briefly mentioned the honeymoon that didn’t happen on the blog, but lately I’ve been wondering if Twitter had existed in 2005, if the outcome would have been different. Knowing myself, I would have taken to social media to loudly protest my dismay.

It would have looked something like this:

@Virgin Atlantic Botched honeymoon bc Priceline issued wrong itinerary & ticket agent refusing to waive $100 change fee. Can you help? When we booked our honeymoon, you issued an itinerary from BWI to Heathrow. Flight actually leaves from Dulles, so we missed our flight. Can you help? Refund our money.

I would have found their Facebook pages and written about the whole emotionally exhausting experience. But Twitter didn’t exist yet. I wasn’t on Facebook. Did companies have MySpace profiles?

Here’s what happened:

We booked our honeymoon to London for December, after classes and exams were over, instead of going right after our wedding in August. We chose London because we had both fallen in love with the country while studying abroad there but had not had the chance to visit together. We used Priceline to book our package, which included airfare on Virgin Atlantic from Baltimore to Heathrow and 7 days hotel.

On Christmas Eve, we drove to Baltimore and arrived at the airport three hours before our flight. We parked in long-term parking and took the shuttle to the nearly empty international terminal. Guess what? Virgin Atlantic does not fly to Heathrow from Baltimore. Our Priceline printout clearly said BWI. But in actuality we were booked on a flight on Virgin Atlantic leaving from Dulles.

I got on the phone, calling Priceline, calling Virgin Atlantic, while we raced (as fast as an airport shuttle can go) back to our car, paid the parking garage fee, and drove as fast as we could to Dulles. It was Christmas Eve. The roads were practically empty. Virgin Atlantic promised that we would be able to make our flight, that they would make a note on the computer to let the ticket agent know we were on our way.

We got to Dulles and parked in short-term parking, running to the ticket counter. It was an hour and a half before our flight was scheduled to leave.

Dulles Airport has a strict two-hour rule. The ticket agent would not issue our boarding passes. I was sobbing. Greg was on the phone with Priceline but they were insisting it was our fault, even though they were clearly in the wrong. The ticket agent told us that while Virgin Atlantic did not fly on Christmas, he could issue new tickets for us for Boxing Day for a change fee of $100 each. Once we got there, we would have two less days at the pre-paid hotel.

Priceline continued to insist it was our fault and that there was nothing they could do. I called my parents, weeping into the phone. This long awaited honeymoon was not happening and our money was down the drain, or on a plane, boarding the flight to Heathrow as we stood in the airport. “Now boarding…,” we heard them call over the speakers. We were standing in the airport as our plane boarded, everyone refusing the help.

My dad spent hard-earned frequent flyer miles to put us on a plane – in business class – to fly home the next day.

I had just finished my first semester as a 2L in law school. I wrote a strongly worded letter to Visa, enclosing documentation. I wrote a strongly worded letter to Virgin Atlantic and Priceline, also enclosing documentation. Visa refunded us our money. Virgin Atlantic and Priceline remained silently guilty.

The following year we talked about going to London for Christmas. We pulled up flights and hotels online, almost ready to hit submit. We couldn’t do it.

We still haven’t been to a foreign country together.


2 thoughts on “The Honeymoon That Wasn’t

  1. Ugh–that sucks! So much worse than my worst travel story. I’ve sworn off Priceline since they charged me the full price of a hotel I didn’t get to use and attempted to cancel in advance. I’m glad Visa came through for you!

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