The Nightmare Ten-Year Wedding Anniversary That Didn’t Happen
I felt absolutely helpless as I sensed her desperation, despair, and panic; the walls were closing in around her and her words — laced with fury and sadness, pain that continually welled up from inside of her — streamed across my screen in all of their frustrating wreckage. “This is a nightmare,” she said, and I knew it was the stone-cold truth. “We needed this,” she continued.
The entire trip she’d planned to go to Italy and explore Europe in all of its historical glory were quickly flushing down the drain, along with the $4,000 she’d sunk into the would-be adventure, an adventure the hopes of which were washing away like the dirt from your hands washes down your sink drain when the water runs over them. This story will contain a few pieces of sound advice to make sure your trip — and perhaps anniversary — go off without a hitch.
The trip was their 10-year wedding anniversary, a much-needed trip to a faraway place where they could enjoy one another’s company and not have to stress about the monotonies of work, life, and work-life balance. They just needed to see new sights and bask in a new culture, and which culture better than the foundation of much of our Anglo-American Western Civilization, Italy. I’m just thankful they didn’t get caught in the now nationwide lockdown that Italy is experiencing. The streets are empty, the disease is ravaging, people are suffering and dying — my heart goes out to the Italians and all of those going through this pandemic globally, right now.
My girlfriend and her husband had purchased the tickets and hotel reservations a year ago. Coronavirus (COVID-19) wasn’t even a thought, considering it hadn’t even infected a single human yet. They were smart, they did what you’re supposed to do — they planned ahead. But nothing could have prepared them for the outbreak of COVID-19 and the government’s shoddy handling of the outbreak. They were to be traveling to Rome, Milan, and Lombardy, right in the epicenter of the Italian outbreak. And now, Italy is entirely quarantined. Like, the whole country is quarantined due to the virus.
Speaking of unpreparedness, Vice News writer Julia Lindau shared on Twitter that she traveled to Milan and Lombardy to cover the outbreak and upon her return, she was welcomed by the United States customs who didn’t ask her where she’d gone in Italy or any questions to determine if she might be a risk. It appears that here in the United States, under the Trump Administration, we’re closing our eyes and hoping for the best. Something tells me we’re going to experience the worst of it for pretending it’s not even happening.
In the weeks leading up to the trip, in mid-to-late February of 2020, flights began being canceled by the airlines which had booked them. They went through a travel agency that bundled all of the flights together making the trip planning a breeze, easy-peasy, right? I mean, as long as you buy travel insurance you should be all good, right? Very wrong. This definitely came back to haunt them.
Protect Yourself in Future Trips
Now, as the nightmare unfolds, every company is dropping the ball and failing at their duties of either providing a trip (which they essentially can’t now) or a refund. As much as I love my Wanderu app and similar apps, I advise when traveling that you try and book directly with the carrier you’ll be traveling with, be it Delta, American Airlines, you name it, just in case of a refund and I’ll explain why.
In their cases with this trip, Delta didn’t technically book the reservation so they onus isn’t on them to issue a refund since technically they didn’t collect the money. The travel agent who booked the flight simply disappeared off of the face of the earth leaving lots of customers hanging and possibly, God forbid, stranded. Now it’s up to the bank to try and clear up the mess by refunding the purchases and stopping any payments which haven’t been made yet. What a complete mess and what a way to ruin an anniversary. Hotels aren’t being any more accommodating than the airlines.
Don’t rely on “travel insurance” to reimburse you for your trips, it’s wiser to go with the larger, more established companies like the airlines themselves and you’re more likely to get more of your money back in the event of something like this. When push comes to shove, smaller, less profitable businesses are more likely to pack up shop and disappear on you than large businesses who have to face the grueling task of dealing with angry and upset customers. Be as nice as you can to such travel agents and front-end retail employees, they’ve definitely got it tough this season.
Think, now my girlfriend and her husband are out $4,000 or so, supposing the bank doesn’t refund the money under the pretense that it’s fraud (which it pretty clearly is if there’s no service given or can be given). One thing about insurance, be it health insurance or travel insurance, in most cases, I’ve found that if they can try to weasel their way out of paying you when things go wrong, they will.
Another thing you want to do is to keep all of your communications in-app when possible. Never use text message or another form of communication to make agreements with persons like AirBnB hosts, always use the AirBnB app which is official and can be used to help get you a refund if needed in the event of a hiccup. You can let such hosts dig their own graves if they try to cheat you in any way and turn it over to AirBnB and hope for the best.
The Great Deflation
While it is a complete let down — imagine, going through 10 years of marriage to arrive at your anniversary to have it cancelled because of a global pandemic — we’re all in surprisingly good spirits, at least as good as they can be. That’s part of the big benefit of polyamory, there are more people to rely on, emotionally, romantically, and economically, all when things go wrong and we need them most. They were looking forward to this. They work hard and deserved this, only to have it all disappear a few weeks before the trip they’d been looking forward to for a year. But alas, it’s important to keep in mind, things could be much, much worse.
They tried to reschedule for New Orleans but as more and more time passes, it seems that nowhere is safe, and with our current administration being entirely unforthcoming, it’s hard to say what’s a good idea and what’s a bad one. In the coming days or weeks, all states might be shutting their doors to outsiders and quarentines might expand. It’s just not a smart idea to travel right now. My bets are on the fact that this causes economic chaos, but time will tell. Perhaps it’ll be next year that they’ll set the trend for 11-year-anniversaries and make those popular. For now, we’re just waiting and ready for whatever may come. Stay safe out there.