Everything seemed to begin well on our Whitehorse departure day. We woke at the “Spruce Bird” to a pristine white landscape and a slight breeze that lightly shuddered the branches causing clouds of snow to drop to the ground. It was breathtaking in its beauty and its frigid temperature, but after four days we were ready to experience something new.
The arrival to Whitehorse was bumpy, with two delayed flights and an AirBNB lost in the woods. At the time we thought that if that was the worst of it we were lucky to get all of the headaches out of the way early on the trip. We had no idea at the time that our problems had only just begun.
We bid farewell to our home away from home, took the Jeep back to the rental car agency and got in line at airport security to catch our first of two flights to Japan. We each had one carry-on and one personal bag, but we additionally had a small shopping bag with a few gifts we’d purchased for family. Nothing big, just some fun little trinkets, candy and a Christmas ornament for Mom. We had intended to mail them before the flight, but had no idea that the Canada post office would be closed for Boxing Day. No big deal, we decided we’d take them with us on the plane to Vancouver and mail everything from the airport.
Unfortunately, those little candies and gifts were to remain in Whitehorse after the stern security attendant deemed that bag of gifts as a third unauthorized bag. In retrospect, this was the first sign that our travel day was going to be bumpy.
The first of our two flights were smooth, but as we soared over Canada it was clear that Kress was undergoing a slow and unpleasant transition. When we finally landed in Vancouver her mutation from a healthy and vibrant woman into a sickly and weak invalid was complete.
We moved slowly through the airport, knowing that one of us was running at only a fraction of her usual energy level, and finally arrived at the check in for our flight to Japan. The friendly and helpful Air Canada staff politely took our passports, scanned them and then confusingly passed them back to us. “You don’t have a ticket on this flight” he proclaimed. Confident this was a mistake, I handed him the booking number and email I had received from Chase. As Kress spoke with the ticketing agent, I promptly got on a call with Chase to work it out.
We had a 3 hour layover, plenty of time to figure out what was going on with the ticket. According to Chase, the original airline (Singapore Air) had cancelled the flight due to a worker strike and we were not notified. Chase gave us two options, buy a new ticket for $6k which departed today or buy a new ticket for $3.6k which departed tomorrow. Despite the fact that this was clearly their error, they were unwilling to refund our ticket price without first completing their investigation.
Meanwhile, Kress has quickly declined into a sick and defeated puddle. Despite this, she was frantically trying to find flights on other airlines that we might still have a chance of catching. She shifted her attention to finding us a hotel for the night knowing that our efforts to leave Canada were fruitless. Keep in mind that as she was doing all this work, her health was rapidly declining. There are few things worse then feeling sick at an airport with no light at the end of the tunnel. I had been on the call with Chase for two and a half hours and there was no way we’d make the original flight we had planned for. There was nothing we could do. We had to bite the bullet and purchase the ticket for tomorrow and figure out the refund later
We checked into the airport hotel, went to our room and tried to rest. Kress rapidly devolved into a full blown illness. She had a miserable night and in the interest of public and personal safety we made the decision to delay our flight by another two days. I called Chase and they informed me that the new ticket would be less than $3600 but that we’d have to forfeit the difference. Nothing here is working out in our favor, but the hope was that Chase would be refunding the cost of these tickets and therefore we will not be out of pocket for too long.
We made our way to a more comfortable hotel in Vancouver, right on the water. While I had hoped to do a little exploring from here, after another day of Chase phone calls and hotel moves I began to feel the illness creeping in. Thankfully we had given ourselves a little buffer just in case this happened, so I had a full day of rest at the hotel before we had to head back to the airport.
Still not 100%, we were at least confident that this was nothing more than the common cold. After resting for a couple days, we made our way back to the Vancouver airport to check in for our flight.
I had found it odd that I couldn’t check in the night before online, but chalked it up to something strange with the airline’s website. We waited in line for around an hour before finally making it to the check-in counter. We handed the friendly staff member our passports and she scanned them. She then confusingly handed them back to us. “You don’t have a ticket on this flight” she proclaimed. “You only have a booking”
If it weren’t for the fact that I was pumped full of NyQuil I probably would have lost my mind in that moment, but I was somehow able to keep it together. Kress and I went into full triage, divide and conquer mode. Kress worked with the agent at the counter while I, once again, called Chase. Chase informed me that the airline had cancelled the ticket. Again!?
To make a long story short, Chase never sent the ticket to the airline. The Chase worker informed me that I couldn’t get a refund because the ticket was non-refundable, to which I responded, “then give us our tickets!” She put us on hold to try and look into the issue, and after 30 minutes disconnected the call.
At this point I was sick, tired, defeated ,angry, and at a total loss as to what to do. Thankfully Kress was there to save the day. She stepped in and quickly asked the counter if we could buy a ticket for the flight. It thankfully wasn’t sold out, and as much as it pained me, we had to get out of Vancouver. I was nearly useless at this point, so I relied completely on Kress to navigate this increasingly complex and frustrating situation.
Thanks to the amazing help by ANA staff and Kress’s ability to charm the pants off of anyone, with literal minutes to spare, we were able to purchase last minute tickets for our flight. We ran through the airport at top speed, weaving in and out of the crowds of meandering travelers. Three minutes before closing the gate, they ushered us onto the flight.
It was a 10 hour flight to Tokyo, a 3 hour layover and then another 2 hour flight to Osaka but we finally made it! We got to our tiny capsule hotel and immediately crashed. This whole process has taken the wind out of our sails, but we’re not going to be defeated. We have a whole new country to explore, and one way or another we’re going to push Chase to refund our money. We just have to hope that this is the end of our travel woes.