Groundhog day….Or…..How to deal with a flight reservation when you have Covid-19 on the planet.

Remember the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray?

Just for laughs I am going to share our experience with flights…

First off we have NOT flown yet….this is JUST getting the flights organized

So BC. (Before Covid-19) we booked 2 tickets one for me and one for the admiral, who would arrive later and leave sooner because of a concert performance she had to give.
Me May – September, Admiral Jun-August

Then Covid-19 appeared…Because my early arrival was based on a dental appointment, I made the 1st change. Instead of leaving beginning May, I changed it to leaving 1st week June with the admiral. A direct flight to Paris and a connecting to Amsterdam

So re-I book to the same direct flight to Paris and then Paris Amsterdam as the Admiral. Easy Peasy as they say …simple and online.

Then Travel ban and 1st round of flight cancelations hits everybody, so the flight to Paris was canceled, thus rerouted to Detroit and then to Amsterdam, with a 45 minute layover in Detroit. Easily done online and a small credit. By booking on a different plane the same day I get a better seat, a second free bag to checkin (2nd bag costs $100) all for the increase of $58.

Then it was announced, NO food and only a bottle of water handed out by staff for the transatlantic flight….
OH the memories of real china, real ice-cream and whipped cream, the welcoming champagne.
So scramble….we can get wine in the Tax free…….BUT how do we get a cork screw passed security…so we can open the bottle of wine to drink on the plane”

Then low and behold some flights to Detroit were knee capped. Unfortunately, could not do it on the web and had to call. “The average wait time for a representative is 2 hours”. At the same time Mike, the chef, asks me if I can run to the grocery store to buy a few ingredients he needs. So while I am looking for good Jalapeno’s, the airline calls back. Resulting to rebooked on an earlier flight to Detroit with a 4 hr lay over.

The fun begins, since more flights were canceled. and only a 6 am and a 6 pm departure to Detroit were available, meaning either a 10 hr layover in Detroit, or arrive 45 minutes after the Amsterdam flight left, resulting in a 23 hr lay over.

More enjoyment was being added because now face masks have to be worn, in the airport and during the flight.

Possible options, fly via Atlanta. (an extra 4 hrs flying for the whole trip ) plus 4 hr layover or a 4 hr drive to Detroit
BUT luckily we will be getting food again once during the flight. (you are allowed to remove your mask then)
After discussion we opted to drive, but but late night research showed a flight to Detroit at the correct time from another airport (1hr drive) if we leave a day earlier.

So call the airline AGAIN……”the average wait time to speak to a representative is 8 hrs…..we will call you back”
Finally you get the airline again….and after explaining, the flight is being modified and there is a good connection a day earlier, you hear some keystrokes and…….then……”sorry that flight is canceled just now”
So we finally settled (at this moment ) for a 4 – 5 hr drive to Detroit then mask on …check in, board and go to the barge.

ONCE we fly we will update how empty …the flight was/ is

Currently we have 4 seats for us 2

Fly safe

OK so departure is getting closer… The flight DTW-AMS is still on. Got an email that the reservations changed, so I quickly looked, with a pounding heart and saw no changes. Well it leaves at 18:05 now, if that was the change?

Since I am on let me see flight from CVG or DAY to DTW and low and behold there is a flight from DAY arriving BEFORE the DTW-AMS leaves. So early am I call delta, and “it is too busy now, call back later’. A few more calls and I get a 1hr 45 ins wait time. While having lunch, thanks Mike! I get called back and after profusely apologizing for not being able to get use comfort + or 1st class we get main cabin…it is a small commuter one. So now we have a flight DAY – DTW at NO cost extra. Well yes Delta might be a few $ more expensive, but is was worth it in the end run.

Lets see how Sunday goes……

Since we do not have to drive to Detroit we don’t have to rent a car etc. The next door oldest son agreed to drive us there, we would take the Volvo. A few days ago it started vibrating at some speeds, so the wheels had to be balanced. Unfortunately the only open slot was Saturday the 6th. Brought it in, and low and behold, the verdict came….tie rods need to be replaced. arrghhh. Andy mentioned we could use his dad big SUV, so that was no real worry.

Check-in time….all goes fast and quickly when using the Delta website. I get checked in, sign in for Deb and. “For international travel you can only check-in in person, at the airport”. GRRRRRRRR

We will see tomorrow.

So we never made it Sunday June 7. Saturday June 6 right after Dinner, I got attacked and had my throat and air pipe pierced, resulting in a 4+ hours Surgery visit and a stay in the ICU for a bunch of days. That is a story for another post or over beers/wine, this post is about groundhog day,

Deb who had to watch that horror event tried to change the flight that night, and was offered a later trip at double the price, then she tried to cancel the flight via text and was busy over 8 + hours.

My 2nd day in the ICU I got hold of Delta, shared the stabbing and ICU visit and the ticketing agent asked for some details about the hospital, and with NO cost she changed the flight till the 3rd week in July, giving me enough time to get better.

Oh Deb and I came up with the point that the large scar, from about ear to the adams apple was caused by vampire wrestling. I am looking for a hairless cat, so I can have a picture, which I can pet and hold the world ransom for 1,000,000 dollars ( like in Austin Powers)

Woohoo so we made our trip later. Flying via Detroit, and today ( June 20) I found out that the return flight via Paris is canceled. This will be change #12 ! What I really dislike is missing the leg flying with KLM. They offer upgrades the moment you check-in online, and upgrading for a few Euro’s you get business class plus use of the lounge ! Ah well, also dealing with immigration in Detroit will be the usual hassle compared to Cincinnati.

So giving Delta some time during the weekend, I waited till Monday to see what to do about the canceled CDG-CVG flight, but Delta kinda took care of it. they have us flying AMS->CDG->DTW->CVG. instead of just AMS-DTW-CVG. Took only 5 calls to get into the queue to change the flight. Also found out they changed planes model for the DTW->AMS leg. One small advantage. the flight DTW-CVG is on the upgraded 350 so we are seating premium economy now!

So we had the DBA Zoom meeting, and the 59 minute callback time of Delta, lapsed 2 hrs ago. Started the zoom meeting and saw some faces with names, and yes you guessed it…Delta called. Explained the wish to change, and the reservation agent did not wanted to ‘upgrade us’ so yes you guessed right again. “let me speak to a supervisor”. Finally the supervisor gets on, seems a bad connection on her side, so she had to call back, after dropping the call. That agent also did not wanted to budge on a free upgrade. since comfort + was full that Sunday, I dropped , lets do is Saturday, which still had comfort + seats available. Departure at 3pm, so no need for a hotel, saving $$

So today we are flying! Two suitcases packed ( 75 % parts for jan-kees). Passports ready, health declaration of the Dutch ministry of Health filled in, a few mouth-nose masks ready. Jan’s maks have text like “quit staring, where is yours”, “If you can read it you are too close” while Deb’s masks are a lot more relaxing and nicer, with smileys, peace signs, floral art. So just relaxing having breakfast, the last time I can heat hot Goetta from Stehlin’s sizzling in the pan. And then off to the airport. Flying with Delta. The 1st leg Cincinnati -> Detroit is fairly loaded, but stil extra empty space. The leg Detroit -> Amsterdam is a lot less crowded, 10 passengers in a 48 passenger area! Quite a bit better than American Airlines or United.

We got checked in without any hick-ups. The Airport in Cincinnati is quite deserted, Delta provides free mask, so that should keep everybody safe. Of course you still see ‘humans’ who once after the security check remove their mask, or adjust it as a chin protector.

The boarding went smooth and it went from the back to the front (so much more logical than what has been used in the past). Deb got upgraded to Comfort +. When I asked the gate agent he had no problem upgrading me also, since the seat next to Deb was empty ( for social distancing purposes). But I saw him hitting the keys over and over and getting frustrated. He finally gave up and said, the system is not letting him, so just tell the flight attendant that I said it was ok.

We went to each of our seats and decided that each having 2 seats for a 60 minute hop was just as good. Barely clasped my seatbelt closed and the pilot made an announcement. “A weather system is over Detroit and we are delayed for 60 minutes. Instead of letting you wait here in the sun, let’s embark, so you can be more comfortable in the gate area”. While embarking I did voiced my objection to this. ” I am NOT used to this kind of nice treatment. When I fly with American or United, they leave us more than 2 hours waiting before take off, why why can I not get the same abuse from Delta”. And that provided a chuckle.

45 minutes later we boarded again and I was greeted “welcome to your abuse paradise”. As you see it was quite empty.

After landing in Detroit, we decided to take our time in the tunnel connecting the 2 terminals. It is always so relaxing to see the colors and the music.

Normally all these displays have entries and they contain only a few hours, Now they had the whole day !

Instead of 3 1/2 hr layover we only had a 2 1/2 hr, so I decided to treat deb to some sushi. Which was a good idea, until I saw the prices. It looked like Mr Ando prices but the sushi quality of Mr Sushi ( 1/2 price sushi)

While at the gate we were asked to have our health declaration form reviewed, and the persons who did not had one, should get one. Seems gate agents did not know this. Make me wonder how much of the ‘no flying’ policy is actually enforced. I did got an A++ the agent declared loudly when I asked him to review my “thesis”.

48 seats, 10 passengers

The new 350 (Delta flagship) is quite nice. with all the changes we got a free upgrade from comfort + to Premium Economy. The seating is 2-4-2. The seats are wide enough, the foot rest is great for people under 6′. Only negative part I found was that the arm rests are not movable, so with an empty plane like we had 10 people for 48 seats in Premium Economy, we could not lay flat over 3 -4 seats like they could in economy. Because we also left an hour later than the original departure, the embarkation was like in pre-covid time, push run, push. Seemed like most of the passengers had a connecting flight.

Immigration was a quick drop of the face mask to get compared to our passport picture, then pick up the suitcases.

The luggage belts were just empty. It was kinda fun, no need to jostle for position.

and on we walked to the train station.

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