Last week I talked about some of the travel situations that came up for our large group of travelers to Ireland and the UK, and this week I share some creative ways to deal with flight cancellations as I had to for the next leg of my travels…
Creative Travel Solutions
So last week I talked about the need for creativity when traveling.
I talked about some of the issues that a few of our clients encountered. When you have 350 people traveling, someone is going to have some type of problem. We had delayed flights, canceled flights, lost luggage and things like that. And I talked a little about how to best handle those issues because they will happen occasionally.
I actually had a problem myself. When the football game in Ireland was over, I needed to travel to Warsaw, Poland because we were starting a Poland pilgrimage on Thursday August 31st. I was going to fly out from Dublin to Warsaw on the night of Monday, August 28th. As I was packing up and getting ready to leave, I got the notice that the flight was canceled because of a UK air traffic control problem.
That air traffic control problem only lasted for a couple of hours, but in the land of flights and airplane schedules, those couple of hours basically led to a week’s worth of changes and delays.
Since I was spending time packing up to leave, by the time I saw the cancellation notice, all of the direct flights from Dublin to Warsaw were sold out – there was nothing for the next five days.
For Dublin to Warsaw, there’s only one direct option – Ryanair, which is a low-cost European airline. They’re the type that advertise these really low fares like 30 to 50 Euro, but by the time you had the things that you want and need, such as checked baggage or seat selection, the price is closer to 200 Euro, which is still not that expensive for the convenience of a direct flight.
The fact that it was canceled did not give me a whole lot of options, because the other ways to fly to Warsaw would be with connecting flights. Most of those required 10 to 12 hours worth of flying, and the price was around $600 – 900, when I had already had a pretty cheap price. Even though I have travel insurance for the extra cost, I didn’t want to spend all that time flying and potentially introducing another problem.
This is one of those times where Google is your friend, because as you’re trying to figure out how to deal with such situations, you really just want to start brainstorming on ways to creatively solve your travel problem and figure out different approaches.
I used Google to look up flights from Dublin to Warsaw, found that all of the other options were connecting flights, which were pricier.
Then I thought, well, you know, in reality, I just need to get close to Warsaw and then maybe I could just take a train.
I definitely wanted to travel on Tuesday, August 29th, because I wanted to make sure that I was in Warsaw at least a day and a half before the group of people arrived.
I thought – I can just get someplace in continental Europe. There are lots of flights to Amsterdam. Then I googled train times Amsterdam to Warsaw. Come to find out that’s a 12-hour train ride. Wrong answer.
I kept looking around and finally figured out I needed to fly somewhere that was a more reasonable 4–5-hour train ride. That led to the need to get to some city in Poland via a flight from Dublin.
Once I figured that out, I realized I could use my Ryanair ticket (they gave ability to reschedule to different destination with no additional cost) and I looked at their flight schedule for direct flights from Dublin to other cities in Poland.
I just played around with the Ryanair website looking at Dublin to Gdansk, Dublin to Lodz, Dublin to Wroclaw, etc. I checked every single option to see what Poland cities I could fly to on August 29th. Most of these flights only fly two or three times a week, so they’re not that frequent.
I finally found that flying to Poznan, Poland, was going to be my best option. Now it was a 6:15am flight and I despise having to get up at 3am for a flight, particularly with the longer lines at Ryanair, but I booked it since it was the best option to get to Warsaw Tuesday evening.
I did not buy my train ticket until after I landed in Poznan because if the flight was delayed, I didn’t want to have the wrong time scheduled for the train. When I purchased my train ticket, I noticed that there were a number of departure times and a number of train stations in Warsaw. I figured out the difference was an express train that went from Poznan to Warsaw, whereas the other ones had a lot of stops along the way. I paid extra for the express, and it was less than three hours.
Side Tip: If you are traveling in a foreign country, it’s better to pay more for the express train for a clear path from A to B, rather than having to decipher the various train stop cities and figure out when it’s time to get off.
I tell you this story because there are creative solutions within travel, and sometimes you have to be open to looking at various options. Sometimes opening up Google Maps to figure out other nearby destinations can help you determine different options.
When there are significant flight disruptions, you may need to get to your destination in a roundabout manner. Review what key cities your airline flies to, and also look at train options or even bus options depending on what you’re trying to do.
That’s when creativity comes into it. It doesn’t take you that long to figure out alternative solutions once you open your mind to new approaches.
I wanted to share my adventure with an alternate plan to help you deal with travel gotchas. I felt pretty good about my solution by the time I was done, because I was able to get to Warsaw by my target date. I enjoyed a lovely train ride in Poland in a first-class car where I had the whole space to myself.
I sat on the train and I worked, looking at the scenery of Poland outside. It ended up being a really great option to solve my travel problem.
And I’ll be able to file with my travel insurance for the extra costs incurred in solving my cancelled flight issue.
If you should encounter a cancelled flight or long delays, be open to other locations the airline offers, perhaps different airlines or alternative types of travel to help you deal with travel situations that disrupt your plans.