Thursday, April 12, 2012

A traveling nightmare

In January, we were so excited that we got selected to join the CE (Committee Enterprise)'s spring traveling program to Portugal. It is a subsidized trip according to family's income level. We were proposed all inclusive packages: 3 meals a day, free open bar with unlimited alcohol, close to the beach, free bus services to close-by destinations, children's club, sauna... Hubby said we were going to something similar to Club Med, we will just stay lazy around, do nothing but eat, sleep, drink, swim... I have been telling Aelig that we are going to take plane, swim the whole week...until we received an email.

One week before the departure, my coworkers informed me that all flights from Nantes to Portugal have been canceled, and we need to depart from Paris. Several people sent email to the CE asking for more information, but no answer was given. People started speculating on all the possibilities, a lot think that we would take the train, some said we would arrive in the early morning in Paris and need to stay overnight...I approached my coworker who has an important position in the CE, who told me that they have done their best, and we will be traveling to Paris by bus. All information will be communicated early next week.

Later that day, we finally received this email from the CE:

Dear All,

We are sorry to inform you that two global events, the economic crisis and the events in North Africa, have influenced the conditions of the trip to Portugal. The Airlines we were taking has gone bankrupt and the travel agent just filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy this week. All these translated into two big changes:
1. modification on the departure
2. we will be staying in hotel X instead of hotel Y
We will give you more information next week.

What a big disappointment! We were so frustrated that the CE informed us last minute and nobody was appointed to answer our questions. The information was given little by little over the week, and one day before departure, we do not know what is waiting for us in Portugal. Here's the chronology of the communication:
D-7: got informed that two global events have influenced our trip.
D-4: got a mail telling us the departure and return time from Paris. Transfer Nantes - Paris will be done with bus. Needed to prepare our own lunch. Bus schedule will be informed later.

Our frustration has gone to the roof and we were asking ourself if we should not just cancel the trip. The in-laws asked us everyday what time we depart as they will need to send Aelig back according to our planning.

I sent an email asking about the possibility to cancel, and I was informed that I could cancel but the CE does not guarantee any refund, and I have to confirm the cancellation within 3 hours. Talked to another coworker and she said she was told that not only will she not getting the refund, she would have to pay for a cancellation fee.

D-3: received a convocation with the air departure information + who's who going to be in the same bus.
D-2: finally received the bus departure information.

Until now we don't know if all the conditions are maintained with the hotel. Checked the hotel website, they have a huge outdoor swimming pool, we don't know if we could swim at 17%. We will need to pay extra charges if we want to use the indoor heated pool.

We are so not motivated to go. I don't know if Aelig could go through all these:
6.5 hours bus trip to Paris
2 hours waiting in the Airport
2.5 hours plane trip
1 hour airport - hotel transfer.
It is going to take almost the same time to go Paris - Kuala Lumpur by plane!!!

And this is not the worst. Our return trip will bring us back to Paris at 10pm, that means arrive around 4am in Nantes. How nice is that.

Luckily we have her to cheer us up. Her first visit to the hair dresser and everything went well. She didn't make any fuss.

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