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Ticket Saga = Spontaneous Trip to Florence Today

March 27, 2011

Just in case there is anyone else out there in my position, I thought I would offer a brief review of the drama associated with my Italy-America travel plans.

First of all, in the name of full disclosure, I have to admit I exude negative airline energy.  It began back in summer of 2009, the first time I bought an airline ticket on my own.  Planning to visit my friend Dallas for a week, I bought a ticket several months in advance from JetBlue.  A few weeks before departure, I double-checked the ticket.  I had booked it for the wrong week.  I have no idea how, but changing the ticket to the date I wanted doubled its price.  Lesson learned: don’t buy tickets when sleep-deprived and/or after midnight.  Double-check flight confirmation as soon as you get it.

Then, there was my trip to visit my grandma in Las Vegas in March 2010, when I packed a duffel bag to carry on the plane with me.  My flight from Burlington to Chicago was pretty small, so once I got on the plane, the flight attendants offered to check my bag for me.  Or so I thought.  I didn’t realize that I was supposed to wait at our arrival gate in Chicago for them to bring the bag up from under the plane.  The bag didn’t have my name on it, and the flight attendant didn’t give me any receipt for the bag, so I went over to my connecting flight.  I realized, somewhere over Colorado, that I should have picked the bag up.  Too late.  A visit to the lost luggage department and many phone calls and emails to United Airlines later, plus a shopping trip to Kmart to buy some clothes I needed for the week, and the bag was safely delivered to me free of charge.  About 2 months after the trip.  Lesson learned: label my bags.  Pick up my bags from underneath the plane at arrival gate.

So that brings us to the most recent drama, which has been occupying most of my time in the past week.

Way back in Oct 2010, when I decided to become an au pair, I bought my ticket through STA Travel.  I paid about $1000 round-trip from Rochester, NY to Florence.  I wanted to fly into Florence, which is 2 hours by train from where I am, because I wanted to greet my old host family and friends there before I met my new family in Parma.  I bought a round-trip ticket, even though i didn’t know when I was coming back, because it was supposed to be cheaper–STA offers a $50 flat first-time change fee.  So I arbitrarily chose June 1.  And, against my better judgment, I flew Lufthansa.

Fast-forward to a week ago:  I call STA to change my return ticket to late April.  They reply that Lufthansa has reclaimed the ticket due to a flight change.  I wrack my brain to remember that back in November, United Airlines cancelled the first flight of my journey, from Rochester to Chicago, and Lufthansa rebooked me on an earlier but identical flight.  Apparently, this caused Lufthansa to reissue the ticket and reclaim the itinerary, meaning that STA can no longer make any changes.  They told me to call Lufthansa.

When I called Lufthansa, I spoke with a very rude woman named Sharon who insisted that she would have to charge me the $250 change fee as per Lufthansa policy.

STA then told me to call Lufthansa with my ticket number.

Lufthansa told me they could charge me the $50 fee, but because there are no seats left in my “fare class,” which is the cheapest available, they’ll have to charge me the fare difference.

I called STA.  After a few days, the travel agent working on my case told me I have to go to the Florence airport to speak with the ticket counter.

And so, I’m off to Florence today, hoping for the best…

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