It was supposed to be a romantic weekend. Mr. Diamond and I were meeting in Chicago for the weekend. He was coming from Texas and I was taking the short flight from Cedar Rapids to Chicago so I would not have to mess with driving in Chicago. We were meeting at the airport and then getting a rental car to take us to our VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) house in Oak Park.
Not only was I super excited because not only would I spend a weekend with my husband, I was also going to be able to tour the Frank Lloyd Wright house and studio AND meet Katybeth from Odd Loves Company. It was going to be a fabulous adventure.
Until the storms hit. Ugh. Chris got grounded in Detroit while I waited in Cedar Rapids. They deplaned. They got delayed. We vigilantly watched the radar. We texted. I made friends with the folks around me. My flight got delayed 3 hours. Chris got back on his plane. Another ground hold in Chicago. Tensions around the American Airlines desk in Cedar Rapids were running high. I did not care since I just had to get to Chicago and no farther but everyone else on the plane had connections to other places. It was turning ugly.
Update from the agent informs us that now our 3:25 pm flight won’t take off until 8 pm at the earliest. Chris is back on the plane and incommunicado so I assume he is airborne. I text him the latest.
I forgot to look at the time when they announced the bad news. My flight was canceled. No flights from any airline going to Chicago the rest of the night. Two gate agents are trying to handle all the rebookings and it is ridiculous. There are probably 30 people in line and I was one of them because I needed to find out how to cancel my reservation so I could get my money back. I never fly American so I did not know what their policy was and it is better to take care of it as soon as possible.
Chris lands and calls me and we decide it is ridiculous for me to fly out Saturday to come as most of our time would be spent driving to and from the airport. I tell him to call me when he gets to the wonderful VRBO house that we were going to stay in. I mean look at it—isn’t it lovely?
I continued to wait in line, got my reservation cancelled and was told I had to go to the ticket counter downstairs to get the official form to get my refund. So downstairs I went where I found six of my new friends waiting also. One agent to handle all the requests and the first 40 minutes were spent with the same couple who had been trying to leave Cedar Rapids for two days. It did not bode well for them.
Finally the two agents that were at my gate came down to help and things started moving. When it was finally my turn she remembered me and handed me the “official envelope” and said “or go to AmericanAirlines.com”. Did she REALLY say I could have done it online????? NOOOOOOOO! An hour of my life waiting in line that I could not get back. As I type this I am on Twitter with AA trying to get it taken care of—they at least have responded to my tweets. The jury is still out if they are going to be able to help me get my refund this way. They said they could. I am hopeful.
As I started the 2 hour and 15 minute drive home I was rewarded with watching the most beautiful sunset I have seen for awhile. I reminded myself that this was not the end of the world, that I would have other trips, other chances to see my husband, life was still good. The sunset helped.
Chris called and said “This is a scam.” What is a scam??? He found the house, had repeatedly tried to call the owner who had told him he would meet him at the house to give him the key to tell him he was on the way with no success of getting him to answer. He arrives at the house and guess what? The lovely couple that resides in the house has NO IDEA what he is talking about or who the man is that is saying that he is the owner and renting out the house. Awkward? Incredibly.
Long story but Chris was able to find accommodations for the night, got a claim number through VRBO and will hopefully get some resolution (and a refund) today when they are “open”. He is still working on getting rooms for the other gentlemen who are coming in Sunday for the show that they are all attending. I made it home by 10:15 pm safe and sound.
So there you have it. The perfect weekend that wasn’t . I get that storms happen. I get that plans get changed. I actually was very calm about the whole thing and made a lot of new fun friends while I was waiting. Even got a proposition for a substitute romantic interlude which of course I passed on because NO ONE can replace my Mr. Diamond. Now it will be another long haul till we see each other but it’s life. We will make it.
What does rankle me is the fact that the VRBO was a fake. Complete with description and pictures but no reviews. We have stayed at so many Home Away, VRBO and even AIrBnB spots over the years with total success. It is amazing to me that this happened and I am hopeful they will make it right. What would be great would be not only the full refund (which WILL happen) but also a credit of some kind for future travel. It seems only fair.
Have you ever had a travel experience that has gone awry? How did you handle it? I will keep you posted on our progress with VRBO. It should be an interesting day.
LATE BREAKING NEWS: VRBO has taken the listing down and refunded a portion of the money. The rest will be up to the bank to refund as it is a fraudulent claim. Fingers crossed that will happen. This was the PERFECT scam. Documentation was all there and it was a very well run scam. Lessons learned? Check, double check, triple check and then check some more.