We all plan trips that don’t eventuate – I’ve had to can trips to Portugal, France and (much to the disappointment of my daughter) Harry Potter World in Orlando Florida. But in most cases they were just ideas or dreams, it was rare to have to actually cancel flights or amend travel plans.
That was, until the swine flu hit…
I remember it well, that great feeling of satisfaction having just booked and paid for the final flights and accommodation for a magnificent journey of discovery through the villages and ancient Mayan ruins of Mexico, to be followed by a jaunt into the crock-pot of vibrant street-life of Cuba. Great hotels, convenient flight connections, beaches, jungles and cigar plantations. This was the trip and I couldn’t wait.
The next memory was watching the Sunday night news and my blood freezing as the Mexican swine flu reports started to trickle through. By the end of the night it was a gush of bad news – health authorities rounding up the infected, governments issuing warnings and holiday makers fleeing. Cuba closed its border to Mexico and the number of casualties rose. I searched in vain for positives amongst the gloom but there were none. It was over.
To this day I am more devastated about missing such an adventure than the inevitable “unplanning” effort and expense that followed. Amazingly almost every company and organisation involved were understanding and responsive, and the refunds flowed in – hotels, flights, you name it. My low expectations of the travel industries of both Cuba and Mexico were shown to be groundless almost to the point of shame.
In fact only one organisation proved immovable in their reluctance to issue a refund or offer any type of recompense or humility in such unusual and tragic global circumstances.
Yep, our very own Qantas were trumped in the compassion and flexibility department by Air Cubana.