Chicago Marathon was called off earlier this month. Given the fun and/or games going on at the moment on planet earth, I won’t say I was surprised at the decision.
It’s a pity, because I was looking forward to training properly for a decent event this year. I wasn’t going to go all that way to have a torrid time of it – really wanted to enjoy the race and the weekend.
However, even before the race cancellation it was becoming less and less feasible. The flights were being changed on an almost weekly basis, and although KLM were being really considerate about lettimg me change flights and routings to give me the maximum amount of time at destination, the moment they emailed me to tell me I’d have to leave Kirmington the night before and overnight in Amsterdam to get to Chicago by Thursday evening, I’d decided by then that I’d defer anyway.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy an overnight in Amsterdam as much as the next man, but an overnight in my own bed 10 minutes drive from Kirmington is a far nicer prospect when there’s a transatlantic flight concerned.
So I’m taking my KLM refund as a voucher. There’s 15% extra value that way, which I’m hoping to be able to use as a weekend trip somewhere in Europe next year. Assuming that I can successfully defer to 2021, that is.
So I’m deferring the flight, and the race, but the hotel is playing hard-ball. My fault. Entirely.
I have a very specific order in which I do things when I’m booking hotels. Due to status with the relevant companies, I check IHG (Holiday Inn and the like) first – I’ve got Platinum with them, which doesn’t give me much for free, but it’s free nights that I like. I then move on to Hilton, for whom I alternate between Silver and Gold depending on what offers I’m working my way through, and finally if there’s nothing available with those two groups, I move on to Hotels.com which has a really generous free night reward system, and then, if all else fails, Booking.com. Unless I’m booking France, when Accor gets a look in as well.
So the fact that I booked the hotel for Chicago through an agent that I’d never, ever used before should have rung alarm bells – the rate was far better than anywhere else – not stupid cheap, but cheaper and I hoped to be able to put those savings towards food.
However, whereas all the other agencies and hotel chains have allowed rebooking or refunds – Accor refunded a non-refundable Paris stay no questions asked for April – Otel.com, the third party that I’ve never before used nor will again is impossible to contact.
I’m not going to try hard, I’ve sent emails, I’m not prepared to phone Turkey given how long I’ve had to wait on the phone for reputable companies during this pandemic, so I’ll wait until September and if FCO still declares the USA out-of-bounds I’ll fall back on the travel insurance instead.
I’ve got other trips planned and rearranged, and I’m hoping to salvage something from my Autumn. Just not my third star in the Majors, yet.