Wrong. Putting off everything turns out to be a HUGE deal. But only because half the planet is trying to do pretty much the same thing.
I have strong opinions on the covid-19 panic that’s swept through the world, but my views have nothing to do with what other folks are doing. I hadn’t planned to make any changes to our travel plans. We were locked and loaded, ready to go. I couldn’t wait to return to Australia and then embark on my first visit to New Zealand. But as we neared our departure date, the cruise line contacted us to advise that one of our excursions had been canceled. The next day they nixed another one. That left us with three and the mounting suspicion that the rest would be wiped out by the time we boarded the ship.
Since we wouldn’t be spending two weeks on land in New Zealand, our only opportunities to experience the country first-hand consisted of excursions. Viewing them in the distance from the deck of the ship was clearly not what we intended. We had to make a change.
Our first call was to Delta Air Lines. Since their lines were choked to the gills, we opted for a call-back and were told we were in for a good 4-hour wait. We got that promise at about the start of Adult Beverage Hour. We figured we’d hear back around 9 PM. Midnight rolled around, and the only calls we’d received were from scammers. (Par for the course.) So we went to bed.
The phone rang at 4 AM the following morning. Though tempted to ignore it, I feared it might be my only chance to talk to a human being since my efforts to make changes online had been mechanically rebuffed. Talking to an agent was the only solution. And, bless her heart, the agent on the line at 4 AM did get our flights pushed back to November.
Meanwhile, we were waiting to hear from the travel agent who booked our cruise. Phone calls were futile, but we got through via email, and it appears our requested change has been made. It’ll be another two weeks before we get confirmation from the cruise line. Am I nervous? Who, me?
But there’s more, and trust me when I say it’s far worse than waiting in line at the DMV.
We’ve got three hotel reservations and a flight between Sydney and Aukland to reschedule. We used travel points with Bank of America for one of the hotels and the flight. We turned to Travelocity for the two nights in Sydney. And, since we booked everything through those agencies, none of the hotels or the airline can handle any changes. It all must be done by the agencies we used to book them.
Guess who can’t be reached?
The results from seven phone calls to Bank of America’s travel line: twelve hours of waiting on hold while forced to listen to Kenny G (which qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment) only to have all seven calls summarily disconnected. After repeated phone failures, we took a trip to the local Bank of America branch. A one-hour visit with an employee who tried her best to help yielded a couple names, but no real-time solutions. Our best bet is to contest the charges on our account. <shrug>
One has to wonder why there’s such a great raging fuss being made over this new flu flavor. Ten years ago, the swine flu raced across the planet, and the World Health Organization also declared it a pandemic. According to the Center for Disease Control, the swine flu sickened 55 million Americans, hospitalized 257,000, and killed 11,690. But during that entire time, nothing was shut down–sports continued to be played, schools and stores stayed open, meetings weren’t canceled, cruise ships sailed as scheduled. In short, life went on as if getting the flu was a possibility, not an automatic death sentence.
I suspect this whole coronavirus issue has been blown totally out of proportion, and I lay the blame squarely on our mass media. It used to be that fear sold newspapers, but that job appears to have been turned over to radio, television, and the internet. I hope they all remember what happened to the little lad who cried, “Wolf!” one too many times.