Monday, January 28, 2013

The Day I nearly NOT went to Berlin ITB Travel Trade Show

Monday, January 28, 2013
Half a year ago everybody knew I was going to attend Berlin ITB Travel Trade Show event in March, 2013. My Facebook followers knew. My Facebook friends knew. My family knew. My clients knew. Heck, even my hamster knew. How could they not- I worked very hard promoting this event in hope for accreditation, which I indeed finally secured. It all started happening half a year ago because it was when I bought my bus tickets to Berlin and started making my preparations. I used this amazing special offer by Ecolines and bought a return ticket Vilnius-Berlin for 9 EUR. Gosh, for such a sum I could agree to travel in the luggage compartment. Yes, I could have saved hard and bought a plane ticket instead but I just couldn't resist this bargain, even though it involved a 14-hour ride. 9 EUR! Can you believe it? The exact purchase date was 29 August, 2012.

Last year I went by bus to Warsaw, Riga and Tallinn, different carrier but similar prices, all on special offer, so I had many e-mail confirmations in my Inbox. One day I just decided to clean my Inbox and delete stuff that was no longer relevant. You can imagine where this is going, right?

In November I received my blogger accreditation from the nice people at ITB Berlin, I booked a hostel immediately and I thought it's high time I printed out the bus tickets. When I opened my Inbox, it was all clean and shining, but guess what was not there? That's right, my Berlin bus tickets. I didn't want to print them out in advance just because I was afraid to lose them in all the paper-ism happening at work. It appears I had deleted them along with my other tickets that I had already used.

Was it me or the world really swayed before my eyes? Trembling fingers, I checked my Inbox again and then Trash. But once you empty Trash, you can kiss it goodbye. I had lost my key to Heaven doors.

I logged-in into my bank account to check the payment for Ecolines. There it was, dating back to 29 August, saying nothing but "transaction XYZ blah blah". It didn't even say "Berlin" or have dates or a reference number. I needed a reference number and a security code to print out my tickets.This was late November.

I picked up my phone and called Ecolines help-desk. A bored woman answered. I explained to her as calmly as I could. She asked me when I was going. I must have sounded the Odd Customer of the Month because I didn't know. I mean, how can you buy tickets and not know when you're going? Well, I knew it was in March but I just couldn't tell her the exact date. I told her my name and asked her to run a date I thought might be right. Zero luck. I asked to try a day later, same result. Then a day before-no such luck. Immediately a picture appeared in front of my eyes- a passenger with a printed ticket, a credit card they paid for the ticket and a suitcase appears to board the bus to find out it was full an they are not on the passenger list. And then it-this horror story- gets interesting from that point. That's why I'm always the first to board a bus- I am prepared to fight for my seat with my teeth, if necessary. I asked if I can come to their office to deal with it in person, the woman on the phone told me to e-mail the head office, which was in another country.

I was a bit baffled. I could tell her the date of payment and my name, wasn't it possible to retrieve my ticket information from somewhere? The man landed on the Moon with less technology. But then she said to e-mail the head office in a quarter of an hour if I don't hear from her, and she asked for my e-mail address, may she, her children, her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren be blessed.

5 minutes later I had my reference number and the security code. I printed out my tickets immediately. The sky cleared, the day brightened, there was music in my ears and life was beautiful again.

Panama, ITB Berlin, March 2012. Own photo.
Don't. Ever.Clean. Your. Inbox.
 What's your biggest travel mishap? 

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