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November 22, 2010

Tell Us Your Holiday Horror Stories for the Chance to Win Free Airfare!


Holiday-horror-stories

Just in time for the busiest travel period of the year, the Transportation Security Administration's latest enhanced screening procedures have got travelers all in a lather. This got us thinking about holiday travel and all the headaches, cancellations, delays, and other things that could go wrong. In fact, it's a travel genre all on its own: the Holiday Horror Story. From David Carroll's "United Breaks Guitars" to Steven Slater's angry JetBlue flounce-out, the topic is too good not to mine for laughs. After all, laughter is the best medicine for those all-too-common travel meltdowns, right?

Which is where you come in. Away.com wants to hear your Holiday Horror Stories. In the comments section here, tell us, in 100 words or less, about the moment when your vacation plans went off the rails. But don't stop there: tell us, too, what you learned from the experience and how it's made you a better traveler. We could all do with some hard-won tips for coping in adversity! The best comment will win a pair of Delta Airlines flight vouchers (redeemable for travel on Delta routes in 48 contiguous U.S. states and Canada; value $350 each, other conditions apply) to make the holiday-travel magic happen again. Click here to download the complete contest rules and conditions.


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Thanks for checking in Susan. There's a post announcing the winner on our blog today at: http://bit.ly/dSVRgF

A little excited! Did you pick a winner yet?
Thank you,
Susan Mullen


Honeymoon redeye return flight from Tahiti was delayed. Missed connection in LAX. Were put on a different flight which was delayed, so we were put on another flight, but were informed our bags would not. That plane was delayed to replace an engine. Then another flight was hit by a luggage truck so they stopped repairs on ours to fix the other plane. Took second redeye into Dulles and when we arrived they told us we would have to be standby for the flight home. Finally arrived and they lost my luggage. 48 hours after takeoff we finally arrived home.

What did we learn, not much besides always take a portable pillow because you never know how many times you will be sleeping on an airport’s floor. Also always be persistent but friendly about what your needs are as a traveler when issues arise with flights. Food vouchers can always be given, but only if you are nice to the company representative. They are people too.

Honeymoon redeye return flight from Tahiti was delayed. Missed connection in LAX. Were put on a different flight which was delayed, so we were put on another flight, but were informed our bags would not. That plane was delayed to replace an engine. Then another flight was hit by a luggage truck so they stopped repairs on ours to fix the other plane. Took second redeye into Dulles and when we arrived they told us we would have to be standby for the flight home. Finally arrived and they lost my luggage. 48 hours after takeoff we finally arrived home.

On day 5 of our 15-day exploration out West, we awoke at Lake Powell. As I was merely flipping the last pancake, the camp stove exploded. I was burned severely on my face, arms and hands, and was airlifted to a burn hospital. To quote John Steinbeck, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Our months of planning and safety preparation could not have thwarted this hazard. I am proud that my family stayed calm and optimistic. When an emergency presents itself while traveling, stay positive and clear headed, and things will, eventually, work out.

My two girlfriends and I thought we had become pros at bartering after hitting Egyptian bazaars and usually buying our desired products for about 35% of original asking price. When we came to Turkey, our travel guide told us that we should barter and end up paying about 80% of original price.
We thought we could do much better than that in bargaining. In Ephesus, my friends and I soon became separated. I tried my skills learned in Egypt, only to be told, "You don't look like 100 years old, but you must have been in Ephesus sun for a century to offer me so low. Go away."
My friend tried same technique, only to receive this response: "Give me your email. I'm going to write President Obama about you. You--a lousy American."
My other friend didn't do much better. Insulted by her offer, she was told, "You must be Catholic in need of confession for offering me so little. Go away."
None of us ended up with souvenirs that we would have liked to have, and we learned that Turkey is surely not Egypt!

TO INDIA: I left Boston for NYC, and planned to fly to Frankfurt and then to Delhi on a different airline. My flight to JFK in NYC wa delayed in the air and then on the ground causing me to miss my flight to Frankfurt. Because it was such a busy time to go to India, my airline had no available seats (not one) for two weeks forcing me to search for another ticket to get there. To add to all of this, hotels were booked in the area. I spent 22 hours in JFK, had to fly to Beijing, then to Delhi, the two more flights to Kochin in the South and then a three hour drive. It took 62 hours to get there and 28 hours of flying. On the way home, I flew to Chicago and then to Boston so I flew around the entire planet. Book travel insurance!!!

Before children, while living in Hawaii my wife and I decided not to travel and stay on the island for Christmas. We camped in one of Oahu’s beautiful state parks on the understanding that the park was going to be closed for the holiday. It rained ferociously on Christmas Eve, forcing us to our tent early. On Christmas morning I unzipped the tent and was greeted by a mama wild boar and several of her piglets. Through a blur of actions I don’t remember I found myself standing on the picnic table, yelling at my wife to wake up. She had a much cooler head. She shooed the pigs away, laughing at me all way. I still believe mama pigs are dangerous and whatever my wife says, I do not scream like a girl.

About a year ago, I was waiting to travel through security at my local airport. The lady in line behind me was holding under her arm her taxidermied Maltese that she wrapped in bubble wrap, so you could still see the dog. She was a little crazy and was refusing to put it through the x-ray machine because she considered it "disrespecful" to the dog. Later on, it turned out she was on my same flight, in the same row of seats across the aisle from me. She talked to her bubble wrapped dog the whole flight.

My brother and I were driving over Monarch Pass in Colorado on our way to Crested Butte as a massive snowstorm was coming in. My tire blew out on the way down the pass and when we went to change it, I realized I'd taken the jack out of my car and forgot to put it back. Bless the two people who drove by about 30 minutes later in a pick up truck who stopped, helped us change the tire, and even gave us a recommendation on a place to eat. Lesson learned: bring the car jack on mountain road trips.

We were traveling with a group of four couples, our flight was cancelled due to mechinacal problems. We waited in line for hours trying to get rerouted to our final destination in Cancun. After much deliberation we had to wait until the next day to fly....yet learned later that if we had offered to split the group and fly seperately we could have all arrived the original day and not lost a day of vacation to travel. Lesson learned, if with a large group, offer right away to split the group into a more managable size.

Again, but with a lesson learned...

In high school I was going to Germany when thunderstorms in Detroit caused me to miss my flight to Amsterdam. After waiting in line to get the last seat on the next flight there, I missed my flight to Frankfurt. Not able to figure out the phones in Amsterdam’s airport my parents had no clue where I was with a 10 hour wait for the next flight to Frankfurt. Lastly, my initial flight coming back was canceled due to mechanical problems. I learned to always check on flight status’ before going to the airport and roll with any changes.

We thought it was our lucky day when we were upgraded to first class on our trip home for Christmas. Before takeoff, I was served coffee. Immediately, a passenger walked past with a large bag swinging from her shoulder, which knocked the coffee into my lap - all over my skirt. Then I had to sit for hours in a wet skirt. After arriving home that evening, my day became complete when my new niece threw up all over the same skirt. All I could do was laugh! It pays to maintain your sense of humor while traveling during the holidays.

Cancun for vacation. Stranded in Mexico City. We missed our connecting flight to Cancun because our flight was delayed and had to go through customs. Since it was Spring Break there were no other flights available. Five hours later, the airline put us up in a 5 star hotel but we had no luggage. We were all split up the next day on different flights and they had booked the 2 teenagers that had never flown to fly out first without any of the adults. Next time we will pay the $100 extra for non-stop.

I was going to Germany to study abroad in high school, thunderstorms in Detroit caused me to miss my flight to Amsterdam. After waiting in line to get the last seat on the next flight there, I missed my flight to Frankfurt. Not able to figure out the phones in Amsterdam’s airport my parents had no clue where I was and it was a wait 10 hours for the next flight to Frankfurt. Finally got there and my host family couldn’t believe what had happened. To make it better, my initial flight coming back was canceled due to mechanical problems.

Trying again with only 100 words...

While traveling to the UK, I stored our passports in the seat pocket on the airplane. I ran 1-2 miles through hallways that were packed before I realized that I had no hope of getting back. An airline employee told me that I should go to the connecting flight counter. They discovered that the plane was to be cleaned and was still at the airport. One employee offered to fetch our passports. Thankfully he returned with the passports and we were able to enter the UK and celebrate Christmas with no problem. Mommy is no longer in charge of passports!

While traveling to the UK to spend the holidays with family, I stupidly stored the passports for myself, my husband and our 18 month old son in the seat pocket on the airplane. I didn't realize my mistake until we got in line for a passport check. I panicked and took it upon myself to literally run back toward where we had disembarked from the airplane. However, at Heathrow Airport you cannot re-enter a gate area via the area where planes arrive. I must have run 1-2 miles through hallways that were packed with extra holiday travelers before I realized that I had no hope of getting back to our plane that way. I was also unknowingly probably causing a security threat by being a crazed American woman running through the airport, going the wrong way. I eventually stopped an airline employee, told them my story and was informed that I need to go to the connecting flight counter. So I ran all the way back, practically back to passport control to the airline's connecting flights counter. I knew that every minute that went by was a minute closer to us losing our passports and I wasn't sure what would happen to us if we didn't have them to enter the country or re-enter the states! I was very very panicked. The airline employees were mostly sympathetic to my situation and after many phone calls trying to locate our airplane, they discovered that it has been parked to be cleaned and so was still at the airport. This was truly a Christmas miracle because usually the airplane would have immediately gone back out for another flight due to the busy holiday schedule. One very kind airline employee offered to walk out on the tarmac to the airplane and fetch our passports. After he left, I endured the longest 30 minutes of my life, wondering if he'd even find them, sweating, panicking and crying. Thankfully he returned with all three passports in his hand and we were able to continue on our way, enter the UK and celebrate Christmas with no problem. Needless to say, Mommy is no longer in charge of travel documents when we travel!

After a long day traveling with two kids back from London to U.S., my son (who gets motion-sickness on descending) took full advantage of the air-sickness bags. Not to be outdone once we disembarked, my three-year-old daughter started fussing in the line for immigration, then went deathly pale. Next thing we knew, she puked all over my wife and the floor. My daughter had a change of clothes, my wife –- not so much! Luckily for us, we were almost home. Takeaway: always be nice to the airport staff, as you never know what they've had to handle that day!

On this trip flights were delayed/cancelled due to storms. When boarding the plane,
I sat beside a lady with a recent bad experience. We sat on the runway for 45 minutes beside a
SERVICE TRUCK. Upon take-off the lady clinched her nails into my arm as the
overhead compartments flipped up due to the plane shaking so badly. She then spilled her drink in my lap!
To keep the lady from hyperventilating, I joked with her the entire flight. Upon arriving at my destination,
I looked & felt as If had wrestled a tiger and needed a pair of Depends..,……

My family did Thanksgiving one year just south of Myrtle Beach, SC. My Dad left out in our motorhome to go to Daytona, FL for a business trip and my mom & I headed back to Boone, NC. The problem occurred because there is basically one road out of N. Myrtle, Myrtle, & S. Myrtle...so my mom & I sat in traffic for hours. It was so bad that my Dad made it to Daytona (an 8 hr drive) before we made it anywhere near home (typically a 5.5 hr drive).
From that horrendous experience, I would 1st not recommend Myrtle Beach during peak vacation times, and 2 if you do go, do not leave around check-out times...or find a different way out!

Back in the days before bag fees, my family and I went on a ski trip for Christmas and packed most of the presents we intended to exchange. Of course, our bags were lost for several days, which made skiing tricky and gift-giving on Christmas day impossible. The bags eventually arrived and all was fine; Christmas was just a few days late. But now I would definitely ship anything like that, especially given the bag fees these days.

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