How Snowpocalypse Cost Us Almost $1,500

snowmygodIf you read my blog regularly, you’ve probably noticed that I wasn’t around much last week.  As I reported before, we went on a kid-free vacation to Runaway Bay, Jamaica, that was mostly paid for with credit card rewards.  I expected to have some access to wifi while we were there, and I did, but it was extremely slow and I wasn’t always able to return emails or schedule posts.  Anyway, I’m sorry that I was missing in action and I’m glad to report that we’re back….but only after a whole lotta dramaLet me explain.

We left Indianapolis on Friday, February 7th, at 5:50 a.m. and arrived in Montego Bay at around noon that day.  Customs was a breeze and our driver had us picked up and on our way within 30 minutes upon landing.  After an hour-long car ride, we finally arrived at our destination, paid our driver, and went on our way.  It was absolutely beautiful there, the weather was gorgeous, and by Saturday the friends we were meeting arrived at the resort as well.  Swimming, snorkeling, and loud karaoke parties commenced, and we had an absolute blast.

Us and our awesome friends....

Us and our awesome friends….

Snowpocalypse Takes Hold

Then, all of a sudden, it was time  for us to leave.  But, there was a problem.  Snowpocalypse was hovering over the Southern United States, and we were scheduled to pick up a connecting flight in Charlotte, North Carolina.  And after checking my email on Tuesday night, I learned that our flights were cancelled and that I needed to call US Airways to reschedule our flight.  So I did, and I sat on hold for an hour before hanging up.  After that we tried to call a few different US Airways numbers that we found on the internet and were unsuccessful in our attempts to reschedule our flight online.  So we called the US Airways number back one more time and sat on hold for another four hours before hanging up.  And by the time we did, it was almost 2:00 a.m. and all we could do was go to bed and try again in the morning.

The next morning arrived and we finally got ahold of someone at the Montego Bay airport that could help us.  Unfortunately, flights were backed up and there was nothing else available until Thursday morning.  So we booked a flight to Philadelphia and hoped that we could fly out the next day.  Then we had to figure out where we were going to stay.  The way we saw it, we had two choices: 1) We could spend another night at the resort for their distress rate of $260 2) We could check out with our luggage and try to find somewhere else to stay.  Since we didn’t have transportation and didn’t feel comfortable trying to find another place to stay on the fly, we chose to spend another night at the resort for $260.  Ouch. 

The next morning we got up and began packing when Greg decided that it might be wise to make sure that our flight was still on schedule.  After getting online, we quickly found out that Philadelphia was in the middle of a snow and ice storm that had literally shut the city down the night before.  And even more distressing was the fact that there weren’t any other flights available that day, except to Charlotte, North Carolina (the flight from Charlotte to Indianapolis was cancelled so we would have been stuck in Charlotte).  So again, we were forced to stay another night at the resort or go somewhere else.  For the same reasons, we decided to stay another night at the resort for $260.  It hurt, but at least we felt safe and our food and drinks were included.

By that point, we were also completely out of tip money as well so we had to get another $40 out of the ATM to tip the people who cleaned our room and prepared our meals.  Grand total so far: $560

What the F’Hell

We were supposed to land in Indianapolis the next night at around 7:00 p.m. but didn’t get home until almost 1:00 a.m. due to several more flight delays.  So again, we had to spend money on food that we didn’t plan to spend.  Fortunately, we were able to eat a decent dinner for around $30.

All in all, we spent around $1,500 including the cost of two additional nights at the hotel, the money we spent on additional tips and food, and lost wages since Greg took the two days unpaid and I had to forfeit several writing jobs due to the ordeal.  We might be eating Ramen for the next month, but at least we’re home, tan and happy, and with our kids.  And there’s nowhere else I would rather be.

Have you ever had to spend more than you planned due to unexpected circumstances?  Have you ever been stranded somewhere?

 
About Holly

Holly Johnson is a wife, mother of two, and frugal lifestyle enthusiast. She is the co-founder of Club Thrifty and a staff writer at Get Rich Slowly, Frugal Travel Guy, and U.S. News and World Report's "My Money Blog." Holly has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger Personal Finance, Fox Business, and Daily Finance.

Comments

  1. Sounds like a great holiday (up to that point!) Blimey, how frustrating though. I guess the closest we’ve come is having had to stay longer in Bangkok than planned due to an accident + hospital trip. I’ve also had to pay the stupid tax after booking flights for the wrong dates and needing to pay the change fees.

  2. The money gods are very cruel – I remember reading about your vacation and thinking what a good deal it was. Now this goes ahead and happens and adds several hundred dollars to the bottom line. Sorry to hear about it.

    I’m over all this snow and ready for it to be done. I saw something on the news that said spring was in 31 days. C’mon spring!

  3. Thank goodness I live in a warm area to avoid this. The worse time was stuck in TX due to Atlanta being backed up.

    • Ugh, yuck. That happens sometimes. A ton of flights out of Atlanta have been cancelled over the past few months!

      • Hi Holly, remember me telling you about Atlanta’s Ice Jam a few weeks ago? Well, then my flight to LA for vacation got cancelled due to last week’s Snowpocalypse! Fortunately, I made it out there one day later than planned and Delta let me bump my return flight by a day, too, so that I didn’t lose any vacation time (or money) :-)

        • Oh yes! The south has gotten hammered this year. Our two flights that were cancelled were supposed to be to Charlotte and Philadelphia, both of which were in the midst of a huge snowstorm. Glad you didn’t lose any vacation time or money.

  4. That extra expense sucks. I got stuck in Philadelphia during the first round of Snowpocalypse in January. Luckily I was able to get a bed at the USO instead of sleeping in the terminal like many others. So ready for Spring!

  5. Yikes – what’s the tally now, after that additional chunk of change?

    At least you were spending extra time in Jamaica, rather than being stuck in a snowed-in, shut-down airport?

    • Well, the original vacay cost a lot less than the $1,500 that the two extra days cost us! But in all seriousness, it was worth it. Plus, there’s no way to plan for weather like that.

  6. That’s terrible! But at least you got home safe and sound with a fun story to tell later on. We almost got stuck in Italy on our honeymoon when that volcano in Iceland erupted. But in that case we were honestly hoping to get stuck a few days.

  7. I haven’t been stranded anywhere, thankfully, but I know something like this is bound to happen with the bad luck we have. I’m glad you guys are back but I can’t help but think the airline should compensate you somehow. Yes, unexpected weather changes flights but if it really cost you $1,500 that’s a LOT of money to forego from bad weather.

  8. Glad you finally made it home! Flying in the winter sucks. I traveled a lot over the last several years and I have so many stories like this. In 2009 I had to spend the night at Philly International, which is only 15 minutes from my home, because of an insane snow storm. I was supposed to fly out that night, but ended up sleeping on a bench in the airport with one of those silver emergency blankets, pretty funny.

  9. Ouch, sorry to hear about that Holly. At least you’re back home safe now. :) We were stranded when I was in Europe years ago with my parents. It was a similar situation where there was so much snow and ice that we ended up having to stay an extra day or two in Europe. I remember my Dad not being too happy about it, but at least we were in Europe. ;)

  10. Yuck!! This has never happened to us, and I hope it never does!! So glad you guys are home safe and sound. :-)

  11. Did you use a chase credit card to book this flight? Most of them have some travel insurance to help off set those costs included as a free benefit. Might be too late to make a claim now but it is a nice FYI for next time.

    • Brian, I actually called them and am waiting on claim forms. Not really sure what will be covered and what won’t but I will report back when I find out.

  12. What a cluster-F!! At least if you had to be stranded and pay money, you were somewhere warm and you also didn’t have to pay extra for extra babysitting! I once had a storm related delay, and it left me overnight at LaGuardia airport in NYC. Rather than sleep in the airport, I shared a room with a travel companion at the airport hotel across the way. The room was not only expensive but gross and I spent the six hours we had there wondering what sort of diseases I would incur from the sheets. At the end of the day, I wished I saved money and slept at the airport.

  13. That’s an unfortunate situation…but what can you do but be flexible. We were worried about making it out of Atlanta to attend my grandfather’s 100th birthday party because of the snow and ice last week. Fortunately it cleared and we were able to go. Glad you made it home to snow-covered Indiana. :)

  14. I’ve had extra travel costs due to unplanned events. When we went on our cruise, I had to spend an extra $500 on a last minute flight.

  15. Sorry to hear about the ordeal getting back! If it happened at the beginning you had the week to get over it, in sunshine. Ugh. But… welcome back, anyway!

    • Yeah, we weren’t too upset about it because there was literally nothing we could do. We were back on the beach with drinks in hand by 10:00 a.m. both days!

  16. I’ve been stranded a few times, but it’s never anywhere fun like Jamaica. Being stuck at the Best Western in Conway, AR is one that comes to mind. It’s always frustrating to not make it where you were supposed to be, but at least it makes a great story.

  17. Ouch! My wife and I flew to Cancun about 2 weeks ago. When we were leaving, there was a snowstorm but the flight wasn’t canceled. So we sat on the runway waiting and then getting de-iced for 3 hours. We took off and the entire plane filled with smoke. We returned back home and the flight was canceled. Luckily we were able to re-book to Miami that night (that flight ended up being delayed) and took off to Cancun from Miami in the morning. The flight back was fine. So, I feel your pain. And if you are ever stuck in the Philly airport, hit me up and you’ll have a free, warm room at our house!

    • Yikes! How scary was that when your plane was filled with smoke???

      • It actually wasn’t that scary at the time because I was thinking it was condensation. In this I mean when you get into an air conditioned plane on a hot day and you see the white condensation. It really hit me after we landed that it was a serious problem. That, and when we talked to our friends in first class who said the flight attendants were freaking out. If I would have seen them scared, I probably would have needed the oxygen mask!

  18. Oh no! I’m sorry Holly! After all that relaxation to have to deal with that stress! I got stranded in Seattle and had to pay for my own hotel one night in September after Southwest cancelled a flight. It’s very aggravating.

  19. That’s life for you! Always unexpected twists and turns at some of the most stressful times. In the end, sounds like everything worked out fine and while I’m sure you were stressed, an extra two nights at the resort doesn’t sound half bad!

  20. Wow that stinks, but at least you were stuck where.it was warm and sunny :) I hope you tried to enjoy the extra days!

  21. Awwhh..sorry that happened, but at least it happened in a resort ! Nothing like 2 extra days of pampering!!! We once had tickets on low cost Ryanair from Rome to London. I messed up the time, flight was 6am, not 6pm..had to pay the whole thing again, then next day, his dad drove us back to the airport, and huge traffic accident on the road, so yep..we missed it again. We made it on the 3rd try… Almost 600 pounds later! At least we got to enjoy my MIL’s food a couple more days. I couldn’t laugh about it for ages!!!!

  22. What an absolute mess — sorry to hear that!!

    What did you think about Jamaica? We went to Montego Bay for a friend’s wedding this past July and it was really nice. I’d never done the all-inclusive thing before, but it was definitely nice to not have to think about money!

    Just a reminder if you have one of the Chase Ink business cards you get a free subscription to the Lounge Club, which gets you two free passes per year to any of their participating airport lounges. Club Mobay was a nice one as it also got us on a VIP line through security in addition to free food and drinks in the lounge!

  23. I’ve been stuck a couple times due to weather in the past. Once was in London and another time in Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rico one was not too bad financially because I could stay with family but still it’s annoying! This winter season has been a disaster for travel.

  24. Not nice to spend an unplanned $1,500, but at least you were in Jamaica enjoying the sun and not stuck there where the snopocalypse was happening :) We all need some insanely expensive vacation now and then (well, we don’t but… that’s life :D).

  25. Wow, sorry for the torture! We’ve gotten stuck because of missed connecting flights a few times. Actually one of my favorite memories with my wife was one of those times. Kind of a fun, random holiday together, but it was much different than this experience. Glad to hear you guys eventually got home okay, even at such a big cost. Sounds like you might need another vacation!

  26. Suck!

    Never been stranded anywhere, but we did stay an extra night in Hawaii once because it was too beautiful to leave. Does that count? ;-)

  27. Mother nature is a real bitch sometimes. Glad you’re home safe now and that you have the extra funds on hand to help with these situations!

  28. I’m glad Jamaica was fantastic but sorry to hear about all your trials to get back home! Yikes! Winter can be tough. You have zero control over the weather and while it was certainly an added and unwelcome expense – at least you were stuck in paradise for those two days, rather than an airport! I would have lost my mind being on hold for 4 hours!

  29. We were caught in the same thing, but in Florida. And it only cost us a couple hundred extra – maybe $300. Ouch! $1500 is a lot!

  30. Ugh, that’s such a downer end to what looked like a terrific vacation! I went to Peru a few years ago and booked a hostel that turned out to be horrific, so we wound up spending like an extra $100 to switch to a regular hotel for 2 nights instead. Definitely not as bad as $1500 though.

  31. I got stranded in Mobile, AL on 9/11. My flight home was supposed to be that day. I had to take a week off unpaid and the airport charged me full price for the extra parking. All in all, I had to be thankful, for obvious reasons, and because I could have easily had the morning flight and gotten stuck in Dallas, where I would have had to pay for a hotel too. I was 18, making $9 an hour so paying off my credit card took a while. Actually, I might have paid it off with a student loan, so I am still paying for it. ;)

  32. Ugh. 4 hours on hold would drive me bonkers, but at least you’re doing so in paradise. We luckily haven’t had to deal with this winter madness here in the Southwest. But we may be moving to a place that has actual winters in the coming years…

  33. Oh yeah, totally. I’m trying not to complain too much!

  34. My ex almost missed his brothers wedding because of weather. He wound up taking a train to another airport,sleeping there overnight, and showing up right before the ceremony. You would think that in this day and age, we’d have to resources to fly regardless of the weather.

  35. I’m sorry the snow cost you so much :/. I would have chosen to stay at the resort, too, especially being outside of the country. There was one time my mom and I had our flight home canceled due to a thunderstorm. We woke up at 5am the next day to catch the rescheduled flight, which was early, and oh…the pilots didn’t get enough sleep, so it was pushed back even later. I don’t remember if my mom had to pay for the room (it was at least six years ago), but it was very frustrating. I think at that point we had to buy breakfast and lunch, too.

  36. We were invited to a wedding out of state a few years ago…it was my my wife’s half brother’s wedding. There was a snow storm forecasted, but we went anyway. The snow storm turned into a MAJOR blizzard. We got stranded at the reception hall, and slept on the floor. never again will I ignore the weather forecast…..

  37. I was stuck in Greece for a day before, but they were able to put me up in a hotel and I met a cool guy from Romania.

  38. At least the trip was wonderful up until trying to depart! We live in the Atlanta area and were stuck at home during the ice storm. Thankfully we didn’t lose power like most people did. Our major expenses were lost wages (2 of us x 2 days, ouch) and our gas (heat) bill is going to be ridiculous!

  39. Ouch. I live in NY and winter here has been absolutely terrible. It was difficult to just get on the subway so I can’t imagine you having to fly. At least you got home safe!

  40. What a mess! So sorry that happened. I’ve had to spend extra money due to storms canceling flights and being stuck in a different city before. Weather can cause so many problems!

  41. Snowmaggedon strikes again. Sorry to hear that Holly. I just had an unexpected charge. We were having our carpet fixed and it was supposed to cost me $300. After they pulled up the carpet, they found that our dogs had ruined the carpet and pad due to urine, so we are now out $1,500 for replacing the entire carpet downstairs.

  42. Yikes, that sounds like a mess. I know a few people whose travel plans have been screwed up by storms this winter. It’s been crazy!

  43. I was trapped im Spain because France was protesting so nothing that moved was moving. I ended up pawning my 18k gold bracelet to pay for stuff. I miss that bracelet.

  44. Yikes! So sorry that happened. But, at least you’re tan! :P

  45. I experienced delays up to 6 hours, but never more than that. But then again, I don’t fly much. Your experience sounds frustrating. At least you got to eat well and sleep well at your resort.

  46. Ugh, that trip home sounds rough- but hey, at least you made it home! And with some nice pics, memories, and a tan! But the extra money definitely puts a damper on some things. Nothing you can do about it now, though, right? Glad to hear you guys had an awesome time!

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  1. […] see that other people are vacationing with friends!  For example, Holly from Club Thrifty recently went to Jamaica with a group of friends and Michelle from Making Sense of Cents is planning a Las Vegas bachelorette party with her bridal […]

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