Please sign in to post.

I made the ultimate rookie mistakes!

I booked the Best of Ireland tour October 6 to October 19. I have not traveled internationally in 18 years and this is my first time doing a tour and traveling solo (husband doesn't care to do any more traveling now). I booked my flight out of Tampa for the day before with a one hour layover in Atlanta to my Dublin flight. I should have researched the best way to make arrangements, i.e., arrive a day or two before the tour starts and allow longer layover times for your connection in case of delays. The arrangements I made counted on everything going smoothly, but as you can probably guess, it did not. My flight out of Tampa was delayed one hour and would be landing when my Dublin flight would be departing. I had no choice but to rebook for the next day. I had to call my husband to come and pick me up at the Tampa airport! I will not get into Dublin until the morning of Monday, October 7. I will miss the group meeting Sunday night and the walking tour of Dublin on Monday morning. I am so stressed out and bitter about the experience I don't feel like even going on the trip now, but of course, I will because that would just be another dumb mistake. I need to suck it up now and adjust my attitude and believe that everything will be fine and I will have fun. So the moral of the story for all of you newbies to tour travel is to plan on arriving at the city where your tour starts a day or two ahead and make sure you have a two to three hour layover time for your connection if you are not lucky enough to be able to travel non-stop. Don't learn the lesson the hard way like I did.

Posted by
1259 posts

How frustrating. But it's kind of you to take the time to warn others following your experience. You'll be on your trip soon and, at least, this gives you a "war story" to break the ice when you do meet up with your fellow tourists. I hope you enjoy your holiday - I'm sure you will.

Posted by
789 posts

Hang in there!! You will love Ireland and once your with the group all the stress of the initial journey will be forgotten as you enjoy "50 shades of green".

Posted by
3649 posts

There is a great deal of extra detail and emotion in your post (I completely understand why!). To summarize, you realized that you should have arranged for your flight to arrive a day earlier than you scheduled and have left more time to make the international connection in Atlanta.

While this must seem pretty devastating at the moment, I know that you will be able to recover from this. You will be there for most of your tour and have many days of enjoyable travel.

Were both your flights on just one ticket? The reason I ask is that you should have had more options than simply not to take the first flight and reschedule for the following day. One option would have been to take the original flight and arrive late into Atlanta anyway. If you missed your connecting flight (all on one ticket), then it would have been the airline's responsibility to reschedule you on the next available flight or to reroute you to get you to your destination. At the very worst, they would have rescheduled you for the next day and you would be in position to get that flight without any more worry about connections. If the reason for the delay in Tampa was not weather, they would also be responsible for duty of care and paying for a hotel/food for you.

It is really distressing when things happen that ruin our carefully laid plans. I do know that every tour group I have been with on Rick Steves tours has been made up of simply wonderful people. Even if you arrive late, they will welcome you, support you, and help you have a great time on this tour.

Posted by
2775 posts

I can imagine how upset you are. However, you are learning the first lesson of solo travel...or any travel I suppose. Sh$t happens. Just go with the flow while adjusting your plans. Knock that sadness or nerves or whatever out of you.

It is too bad to miss the first dinner and Dublin walk, but that's all you are missing. And that's not much in the scheme of your trip. You are healthy. You are still going on your trip, just a day later. (Was this one ticket? Can you convince the airline to move your return flight forward a day or so without charge to make up the lost time at least?) I'm sure your RS group will be a friendly, welcoming group. Your tour guide might even go thru introductions again, when it fits, for you. If not, carry your member list with you, and through out the next day or so, just introduce yourself to each person so you learn names and something about each one. Most people are doing this again, anyway, throughout the first few days. You only missed one formal meal. There are many formal and non-planned meals with the group. Regardless, sit with different people at every meal...lots of people do this, whether solo or couple. It might be that people will come up to you and introduce themselves, knowing you missed the initial introductions.

Chin up. You'll still have a great time! I did an RS tour solo...was quite afraid of traveling solo with a group (solo without a group is fine for me), but my introverted self had a great time. You will also.

Posted by
1893 posts

My initial thought was to post almost exactly what Carol did, but she already shared the same thoughts I would have.

Since it is too late now go back and redo anything, at least see if the airline will waive any reticketing fees, etc. or at least keep your fare the same. Does not hurt to ask....maybe bump you up to Premium Coach or Business Class for all you have been thru. If not available on the going leg, maybe you can get them to do it on your return flight....but ask NOW (closer to the problem happening vs. later). Maybe phone the airline to speak to a reservations supervisor (if the answering rep cannot do the magic). Then if that does not work, just show up a bit earlier (maybe 15 minutes before you would plan to arrive anyway) and talk to someone (and then maybe a supervisor) at the ticket counter.

Did the airline suggest you book for the next day? Or did you just ask to do that? That may be critical in working out any financial issues.

If all this is spilled milk and the airline is not immediately kind to you, just forget about it for now, and call them when you get back.

In the meantime, concentrate on having a really good time on your trip. You will not be the first tour member to arrive a bit late for a tour. We all learn from experience. And, even with countless airline flights under one's belt, things still do happen that are just out of one's control. We pretty much try to plan carefully, but also realize something may happen.

You are alive and well and now ready to enjoy a very special trip....that's what matters right at this moment :)

Posted by
65 posts

Thank you everyone for your kind posts. I was on one ticket and even if I had gotten to Atlanta late, the next flight to Dublin was not until 9:30pm the next day. I decided I would rather just go home and start over today. This snafu is on me. I didn’t make my travel arrangements properly. Now I know better. Live and learn! It will all work out. I feel a bit more savvy now. LOL! I'm excited to get there and enjoy the tour. I will have a day in Dublin at the end of my trip as I made arrangements to fly out of Dublin the day after the tour ends (the tour ends in Belfast) so I will get a chance to see the city.

Posted by
6570 posts

I always try to use connections that give enough time to transfer planes--in case something happens.
And experienced travelers learn to "roll with the flow." Things happen. We travel, we have fun and we make it home okay. Snafu's are just temporary.
I've learned the lessons over the years.

Posted by
1893 posts

The original airline should refund your ticket since they could not get you to your final destination within so many hours (I can't remember, but I think it is three) of what was originally planned (of course, unless the delay was for some uncontrollable situation like bad weather, etc.).

Have a fabulous trip!!!

Posted by
2703 posts

I'm very sorry to hear of your trouble, but thanks for sharing your experience so that others can learn from it. I don't know what your experience was, but I've noticed lately that Delta seems to price tight connection times on European itineraries lower than longer connection times, which kind of entices people into making the decision you made.

Posted by
699 posts

I’m sure you are going to have a wonderful tour.

Next time, maybe use a travel agent. I have a friend who has been in the travel business for decades. She knows every airport, every trick, every contingency, every delay, train and tram, vicinity hotels, every shortcut, and every way to make sure I don’t get stuck someplace I don’t want to be.

Posted by
73 posts

Knowing the type of people on many RS tours, they will be empathetic and welcoming to you when you finally join the tour and soon all the stress of what happened will be forgotten. Then you will have a fabulous tour of Ireland. I do understand the stress you have been under with this snafu. In general I really think the airlines should not allow for tight connections just because now days airline delays have become so commonplace.

Posted by
694 posts

On the whole "getting in a day earlier" theme, when we went to Ireland last year we weighed getting in 1 day early ( hotel covered by the tour company as a returning customer perk) or two days where we would have to pay one of the nights ourselves. Choices were to arrive on Thursday or Friday. Turns out the Thurs arrival was so much cheaper than Fri that it paid for a night at a fairly pricey hotel. If you have flexibility it's good to see the options.

I so understand your frazzled nerves. Sometimes, "blow-ups" happen when traveling. Because you already have a solution to your problem, try to take the attitude that it's just one bad day and the rest of your trip will be great once you get to Ireland. Is this trip perfect? No! But, you are recovering your vacation and can move forward with great experiences ahead.
Don't beat yourself up. Everyone has a snafu sooner or later in life.
I agree with you on longer layovers between flights. I am old enough to remember shorter layovers because of less (no) security screenings. In the modern age - we have to accept more security screenings, bigger airports with longer corridors, etc. and more passengers packed on to planes.

Listen to Enya, have an Irish whiskey drink at home to reboot your Ireland
trip and get back to traveling. Best to You!

Posted by
2342 posts

Next time, maybe use a travel agent.

But make sure the travel agent is bonded. Some states don't require travel agents to be bonded.

Posted by
1058 posts

Even an experienced traveler can run into problems.

A friend who has done a number of RS tours was scheduled to do the Basque tour in July, and planned to get to the start a day early. Because of a weather related issue at PHL, her flight was greatly delayed and ultimately cancelled. The airline was unable to get her on a flight the next day, either (MAX8 groundings). Because that tour is only 9 days, she was unable to go and cancelled the trip.

Posted by
10280 posts

Before you decided to go home, did you ask the airline what it was going to do to get you to Dublin? Was the next day"s flight their suggestion or did you just decide that was your only option?

The airline should have worked with you. They may not have been able to offer a new nonstop but possibly a doable alternative.

A lesson learned for next time.

Posted by
2913 posts

lojocohay, I'm so sorry this happened to you but most people would agree that Dublin is not the most interesting part of Ireland, by far. Your short connection time is the kind of thing that good travel agents avoid when booking your flights, but most of us choose to book our own flights instead. In the future you need to book an especially long connection time when returning to the States from overseas because you have to clear US immigration, get your checked luggage, walk through Customs with it, recheck checked luggage, go through security again and then go to another terminal for your domestic flight.

LizinPA, because that flight originated in PHL and there was a Max 8 issue, it appears likely that it was the airline that has gotten a reputation in the last few months for stranding passengers(some passengers trying to return from Peru had to spend 3 nights in the airport). I have a friend who refuses to ever fly on this airline again because of having to spend the night in the airport after a long flight from Greece and nonexistent communications from the airline staff about what was going on and my husband and I wouldn't consider doing so either. That being said, tickets on that airline tend to be less expensive than on Delta.

Posted by
1217 posts

I'm sorry about your flight issues. We've actually lost a day on a previous vacation when a 2.5 hour layover in ATL turned out to not be enough due to one of those unfortunately common summer thunderstorm ground stops. And it took one of those third level customer service ninjas in order to force partner inventory on KLM and enable an alternate rebooking so we'd only lose a day instead of 2.

And there are currently some intermittent runway closures at ATL due to construction work, even though they aren't publicized like the ones in San Francisco are.

There are times when it makes sense to take the first leg of the trip anyways knowing you'll misconnect and other times when it makes sense to never leave your home airport- depends on how you're rebooked, the volume of passengers impacted by that day's delays, and a number of other things.

As for when to arrive, I've spent some time on the Cruise Critic boards this year because of a family trip and there's a strong message there that you should do your best not to have your flight arrive on the day your ship departs. I'd try to go with tha same idea for land tours too.

Posted by
1631 posts

Thank you for sharing your experience. It's helpful to be reminded about tight connections and other airline related issues. After I read your post, I checked the connection times for my upcoming trip!

Hope you enjoy your trip to Ireland. I did the 8 day Best of Ireland a couple of years ago and had a great time. Please do a trip report when you return and let us know how it went.

Posted by
996 posts

OMG, how frustrating and upsetting! I can only imagine how I'd feel in your situation!!! I hope that you have an amazing adventure once you arrive in Dublin!!!

For future reference - and only in my experience - some airlines are way better at dealing with this situation than others. I remember I once had a similar situation, going to Dublin as a matter of fact. The gate agent kept telling me to GO HOME and come back tomorrow. They weren't even offering to re-ticket me for the flight I was missing! But I was standing next to two people who were clearly seasoned travelers. Having nothing to lose at this point, I just started using the same lines they were using. "Well, I really HAVE to be in (Dublin for me, but they were going elsewhere.) and how can I make this happen?"

It took some time, but eventually the gate agent had me on a pair of connecting flights to Dublin. I'd arrive 12 hours later than I'd originally planned, but at this point I was just happy to be on a flight that evening. I had to make two more stops instead of one, but I arrived on the day I wanted, if not the time.

I know this doesn't help any now, but hopefully on one of your future trips you'll look back at this moment as one of the many hiccups? Learning experiences? Things that happen when we travel. Enjoy Ireland!!!

Posted by
1128 posts

We all learn and yes, I’d definitely want more than an hour for domestic to international. I’d rather have an overpriced drink at the airport bar than be sweating a connection.

I can’t say I agree at all with using a travel agent. The few that still exist either specialise in business travel, meetings, and conventions or else in cruises or African Safaris or other things that require a bit more research than the the typical flight to Europe. This forum and TripAdvisor will usually be the best source of advice.

Posted by
6925 posts

Dear Lojocohay — I am so sorry you missed your first day. I hope that by now you have caught up with your group and are enjoying your tour! Way to roll with the flow.

Ireland is gorgeous — enjoy!

Posted by
80 posts

One day is not that much of a loss! We were booked for a trip home from Australia to New York on a cruise ship going to Tahiti and through the Panama Canal. My Mom had a medical emergency and we had to fly home to see her. So you see things can always be worse. We have had many fabulous trips since then!!