Griswold’s Skelly Twins Family European Vacation
Christa and I have been planning this trip of a lifetime for two years. Everyone told us two things when they heard about our trip: 1. That sounds amazing 2. What !?!? You are taking all 8 of your kids with you (ages ranging from almost 3 to 17).
We knew the trip would be costly so we started saving and then decided to try and line up a few home exchanges to save more money. Here is a blog we did about home exchanges! We never really thought of going to Copenhagen until a very nice couple asked if we wanted to do a non simultaneous exchange (most exchanges are done at the same time, but don’t have to be).
(Dave smiling before the drama)
We couldn’t book 12 tickets at one time so we went through group sales. I will say that in hindsight we should have never taken this route. It did not save us money and there were many headaches associated with the booking. We should have just called the airline directly and asked to book 2 families separately and to make sure we were all on the same flights.
We (the Skelly’s) are known for our crazy trips and the fact that often things arise that you can’t even imagine. Here is the first of many I am sure to come.
We showed up at the airport 3 1/2 hours before our 3 PM flight (KLM Houston to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Copenhagen). All 11 of us (Brad is joining us is a few days) were in high spirits and were so excited to get checked in and relax before the flight. Everything was going great until we were told that 10 of us could go on the flight, but one person (Dave) could only join us if we paid $3,000 at that very moment.
Me, “What? I don’t understand”.
KLM employee “Sorry, that is what the notes say. I will call someone and see if I can get more information”.
Side note: Dave was originally booked to leave on Wednesday with Brad, but found out he could leave a few days earlier with us. I called Delta Group sales and requested the change. They said I could change it, but there would be a $300 change fee and I would have to pay the difference of the ticket (this was about a month before our trip). Total would be around $650.00. Since Copenhagen was the place Dave was most excited about (we leave on Saturday for Italy), we decided it was worth paying the fee. Delta asked me for my credit card number (which I gave them) and they said the change was made. I was nervous about everything working out so I called several times before the trip (the last time 3 days before) to confirm that my husband was on the flight. They kept confirming that he was.
It’s was then 12:30 and we had just been told by KLM, “Sorry, I talked to my supervisor and we can’t let you on the flight without collecting $3,000″. He suggested we try and call Delta group sales to sort it out. Christa took all 8 kids and headed over to security and I decided to stay with Dave and try and sort this out. The KLM employee said, “I see your name is on the flight, but you don’t have an official ticket. If I were you I would just come back on Wednesday”.
I didn’t want Dave to go home, Dave didn’t want to go home, and the kids certainly didn’t want him to go home. It was now 12:45 PM and we were trying to figure out what to do. Should we just pay the $3000 and then try and sort it out when we got home? We may or may not be reimbursed. I got on the phone and called Delta (group sales was closed on Sunday) and stood by the counter waiting to hear an operator. The KLM agent told us that all decisions had to be made by 2:05 because that was the cutoff. You had to be at the boarding gate by 2:45 or you would miss the flight. After about 45 minutes on the phone (I was still waiting) we told him we decided to pay the $3000 and try and sort it after our trip. He then told us “oh, this is no longer an option because you didn’t do it earlier.” To get on the same flight, we would now have to pay $4000 or Dave could take the Air France flight an hour later for $3000.00. WHAT!!!!! This ticket was getting CRAZY expensive.
Around that time a Delta agent came on the line and I calmly (and nicely) explained what happened. She was so nice and started trying to work with me. She put me on hold because her supervisor was the one that had to make things right. At around 1:50 she gets on the line and says that someone at group sales messed up and that they were fixing it at that moment. It would take a few moments so sit tight. At 2:05 I had to switch phones with Dave (because we were still on hold) and run to security so that at the very least I would not miss the flight. By 2:15 Dave was still on hold and I was still waiting in the security line. My heart was beating so hard not knowing what Dave was going to do (would he go home, get on another flight). Around 2:35 I was still deep into the security line and I begged the people at the front to let me go because my three kids were on a plane and I couldn’t miss my flight. I ran through the airport with one shoe on and almost kissed the ground when I saw that people were still boarding the plane.
At that very moment my phone rang and it was Dave. I asked what was going to happen with him. He said, “I’m about to board the flight”. Me “WHAT?” I looked up and there he was. CRAZY!!! The call with the Delta agent got hung up and I guess the poor ticketing agent (who was SOOO awesome the entire time) took pity on him. I suspect Dave was probably in the system by then or at least half way. The employee said, “How much were you supposed to pay?” Dave told him $650.00. Then it was a done deal. Dave paid the $650 and was whisked quickly through a line for people about to miss their flights (I didn’t know they had that line).
I was SOOOO VERY happy that we all made it safely on the plane.
The flight was wonderful and the KLM stewardesses were fantastic. The food was great, the service even better. I have never flown KLM before, but would do so in a heartbeat.
- Always keep a paper trial and ask for names when sorting out details for important events. I should have kept a very good record so that I could have names and times to back up my story. The Delta lady saw that they made the mistake and I was just grateful that she and KLM made it right!!
- When in stressful situations, it is better to stay calm and polite. We both agreed from the get go that if we had any chance for things to work out, it would be by being very kind and low key. If we started screaming and acting like fools, I promise you we would either be $3000 poorer or Dave would be at home right now.
So there you have our first crazy story. We made it to Copenhagen and the weather is amazing. The accommodations are perfect and everyone is very happy. We didn’t do much this first day because we have jet lag.