There comes a time in everyone’s life when they need to pay the stupid tax. Yesterday was my day. As far as mistakes go, it was about as stupid as you can do, and it ended up costing me a nice chunk of change.
Let’s start off with the basics. This week, there is a Financial Blogger’s Conference in Denver, Colorado. The event was a hit last year, and I was pleased when the organizer, Phil Taylor of PT Money, asked me to give a presentation again this year.
So I marked my calendar, booked my airline tickets and hotel well in advance, and set off to the airport. I parked in the economy lot at Chicago’s O’Hare airport ($19 a day – how’s that for economy!). Then I took the tram to the airport. I was flying Frontier Airlines non-stop from Chicago to Denver, and I looked at the map on the tram and saw Frontier Airlines was in the international terminal. That seemed a little strange since I was on a domestic flight, but I also know Frontier flies international and domestic, so I didn’t think too much about it.
I went through the security line, and the TSA agent told me they only had international flights in that terminal, and that I had to go to the Frontier Airlines terminal where the other domestic airlines were located. No problem – I got back on the tram and went to the next terminal over. But then I couldn’t find the Frontier Airlines terminal. Finally, an agent helped me figure it out – Frontier’s domestic flights are out of Chicago Midway – all the way across town. D’oh!
I had just over an hour and fifteen minutes before my flight was leaving. Could I make it? Could I change my itinerary? How much was this stupid mistake going to cost me?
The trip from O’Hare to Midway is 30-45 minutes depending on speed/traffic. That’s a small window when you still need to park, take the shuttle to the airport, and make it through security. Too risky… better try calling Expedia to see if the tickets can be changed.
So I called Expedia, and a nice guy named Tom helped me change my tickets. It turns out my tickets could be changed before the original flight time, but they would be subjected to a $50 itinerary change fee, plus the difference in fare. (Terms vary by purchase, so check your ticket before making changes).
Since I was making the itinerary change the day of the flight, I wasn’t very optimistic about the fares. But I told him to go through with it. All this was going on as I was riding the tram back to the economy lot at O’Hare. As soon as the train stopped, I took off running to my car, just in case I had a chance at making it to Midway in time. Thankfully, he had me on hold while I was running, otherwise he would have heard a lot of huffing an puffing on my end!
I took off to Midway before we had everything finalized. Long story short, he booked me a flight that left three hours later than my original flight and didn’t have any fee increases. So all it cost me was the $50 itinerary change fee, $2 parking at O’Hare, an extra $3 in tolls, the extra gas, and the three airport beers I consumed while I passed the extra three hours I had to kill… On the bright side, the economy parking at Midway is only $14 per day. Sigh…
So it cost me an extra $75, but in the long run, no long term damage was done. I know it could have been a lot worse! But I still made a stupid mistake. I mean, c’mon – who shows up at the wrong airport?