I thought that it was time to show some more photos from our week in Spain in July… while I tell you about probably the most stupid thing I have ever done!!!
Last week we finally booked the tickets for:
1) our cruise in December! Yes, we are finally going to see some of the other islands in the Caribbean, before we move back to Europe (February??). Since we arrived to Puerto Rico two years ago, we have been contemplating how to see more of the region and everybody has told us – go on a cruise… I have always been very sceptical to the whole cruise-thing but it does seem to be the most practical way to island-hop!?
The cruise will take us to St Thomas, Dominica, Barbados, Antigua, St Kitts and St Maarten over 7 days leaving from San Juan (of course) the first weekend of December.
2) tickets to go to Spain for Christmas! Since O and I have already celebrated Christmas with my family (2007), in Puerto Rico though and not Sweden, it only seemed fair that our first European Christmas together would be spent in Spain with O’s family. We leave on the 23rd December, arriving on Christmas Eve’s morning to Madrid and hopefully somebody will be able to pick us up by car (otherwise it is two changes with the metro + train). The tickets to fly to Spain for Christmas were more expensive than our 7-day Caribbean cruise!
3) However, not as expensive as our tickets from Madrid to Copenhagen in January could have been… After we had booked the above travels, we for some reason waited with buying our tickets to go to Sweden (via Copenhagen). Maybe we felt that we had to give the credit card a rest? I checked for tickets via different ticket search websites and yesterday I finally found the cheapest tickets – flying with Finnair via Helsinki! Ok, a bit of a detour but we are trying to save some money on travels…
The cheapest tickets I found were through a Swedish online travel agency and when I tried to pay with O’s credit card I encountered some problems. On most websites when you buy a plane ticket you first fill out the name(s) of the passengers and then you have to fill out the name of the credit card holder, credit card number etc. However, on this website there were no boxes for the name of the credit card holder as the name of the main passenger was automatically chosen. O has two surnames like all Spaniards, so on the passenger details I filled out his complete name, as you should but then I realised that his Belgian credit card only mentions one family name – in other words there was a discrepancy! The other problem was that yes, it is a Belgian card but O’s billing address is in Puerto Rico… Needless to say there was a problem with the payment.
I tried several times, changing the names – so I would be the main traveller and thus pay with my credit card – at least the names on my passport and card correspond, but no, I kept getting an error message (my billing address is my parents’ in Sweden). I then tried to book the same ticket through the Belgian website (same company) but it didn’t work either, probably due to the billing addresses not being in Belgium.
Then I had the brilliant idea to check if maybe the tickets were equally cheap on Finnair’s website – the difference was a few Euros, and voilà, it worked fine with O’s Belgian credit card and address in Puerto Rico. Happy that all the December-January travels were finally booked, I checked my emails for confirmations and what do I see: I have TWO bookings for the same tickets!! The reservation from the Belgian website had somehow gone through despite all the error messages!!! Arrrggggghhhhh!
O, who is always the one to keep his calm and not to panic like myself, asks me for the Finnair phone number and calls them to explain our problem – and is told that there are THREE reservations in our names for the same flight!
What to do, what to do? The Finnair lady tells O to contact the Swedish travel agency and explain to them the situation, but unfortunately their customer service opening hours are 13-17 (Swedish time) so we need to wait until the morning (Puerto Rican time). In the meanwhile I calculate that we have paid more than 1000 € for SIX tickets Madrid – Copenhagen (not refundable) and that I definitely shouldn’t get any Christmas presents this year (or next)…
To make a long story short (??), this morning I checked our emails and both O and I had received notifications that the payment of our tickets through the travel agency had not gone through, I found a FAQ on the website saying that you can’t pay with a Belgian credit card on the Swedish site, and I call the customer service and the helpful agent cancels our reservations and tells me that they would have been cancelled anyway at the end of today since the payments had not gone through.
Fingers crossed that we haven’t been debited anything extra, we should have ONE reservation valid and payed for with Finnair and hopefully we will be going to Sweden on the 2nd January for 8 days, to celebrate my sister’s 27th birthday and my grandfather’s 90th!
Lesson learnt: PATIENCE! Make sure that your online reservation / payment has not gone through before trying another alternative. And book through the plane companies’ web-sites when possible (that’s what we ended up doing with our tickets to Spain from Puerto Rico as well – American Airlines had the cheapest tickets!).
And maybe we will all get Christmas presents this year…