Travel disastersANNA TURNER
You know that old adage - it's always funny when it happens to someone else? Well, my friends were sure laughing at me last weekend.
Disasters seem to be par for the course when it comes to travelling.
I've experienced my fair share over the years. The time we went to New Caledonia during the wet season and it rained the whole 10 days (and I'd brought nothing but miniskirts and bikinis), the time our hotel in Italy told us they had double-booked our room, the time the tuk-tuk driver left us in the middle of nowhere in rural Thailand ... the list is endless...
But last Friday I experienced one of the most gut-wrenching - emotionally and financially - yet.
EK and I were off on a romantic escape to Queenstown for the weekend.
I had it all planned in my head - flying in at 5pm, enjoying a glass of champagne on the balcony of our lake-front hotel before heading out to a candle-lit dinner and then the opening party of the winter festival.
We would kiss as fireworks exploded overhead and all would be well in the world.
It was not to be.
We missed our flight.
I finished work at 3pm and we had to check in by 3.25pm. I sneaked away from work 10 minutes early and thought we'd be ok but, weaving through heavy school traffic on the way to the airport, I started to panic. We weren't going to make it.
"It's fine, they won't leave without us," EK re-assured me.
It is the only time in my life that I've been upset to be right.
When we rushed up to the check-in counter five minutes late, a scarily shiny-looking airport employee informed us check-in had closed.
"If you had no bags you could just go to the gate but since you do ..." She turned on her heels without even finishing the sentence and clicked off across the tiled floor, leaving me on the brink of tears.
I'd never missed a plane before and I hope I never do again. I had such an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness as I sat there as they called our boarding and a planeful of happy travellers embarked.
To add insult to injury, it was the last flight of the day to Queenstown from anywhere in the country.
The man at the counter seemed to take a grim satisfaction in telling us this. Maybe it was because of the ridiculous amount of money he knew we were about to give him.
We had to pay an exorbitant amount to fly to Invercargill and then, at a further ridiculous cost, we hired a rental car and drove to Queenstown.
The low point has to be when we were sitting on the plane, knowing that beneath us was our desired destination but powerless to get there. I felt like asking the pilot if he'd drop us off on the way (I'd even have sky-dived ... Queenstown is our extreme sports capital after all).
Three hours late and at an extra cost of $800 (ouch!) we arrived in Queenstown.
We still enjoyed a glass of champagne, but our candle-lit dinner was some McDonalds picked up at the drive-through on the way up and we'd missed all the fireworks and excitement of the Winter Fest opening party.
We did enjoy two lovely days of romance and relaxing, cut slightly short by the fact we decided to show up at the airport an hour early for check-in for the flight home.
I'm sure the missed flight will go down in history as one of our more epic fails, but we will laugh about it.
Once we've paid off our credit cards, that is.
Have you had a travel disaster? Tell me your worst to make me feel better.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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