The biggest travel mistake I’ve ever made

a bed with white sheets and pillows in an airplane
courtesy of Singapore Airlines

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I’m currently in the midst of a trip that has been piecing together as we go. A couple of weeks ago I left on a trip to Southeast Asia, mainly to spend some time in Bali, but also hit a few other hot spots. One ambition of mine was to work in an intra-Asia Singapore Suites ride.  Sometimes trips come together quite easily, others do not. This one has been a continual work in progress, and it’s felt as though nothing has really been easy. I’ll go through all of the variables that ultimately manifested the worst mistake I’ve ever made, and hopefully illustrate a lesson I learned the hard way that you may vicariously absorb.

To break it down:

The outbound

  • Originally we had two seats in ANA first to Japan
    • Had to cancel due to some work comittiments forcing a date change
  • Had one ticket on ANA first plus one on Thai First to Bangkok
    • The second ticket never released
  • Booked two tickets on a combo of Japan Airlines First and Japan Airlines Business to Singapore
    • I grabbed this with less than 48 hours to departure using 75k Alaska Miles a piece

Intra Asia bookings

Since we thought we were going to Bangkok up until 48 hours to departure, nothing had been booked in Singapore. Luckily, the time we’d spend before Bali was fixed, regardless of the city, so we had our dates set in Bali. 5 nights in Uluwatu, booked a week before travel, and 3 nights at a villa ( Dua Dari ) in Ubud.

Here’s where things got very tricky

  • First we were going to book 2 Singapore Suites to Shanghai.
    • The dates wouldn’t work and with less than a week before we were scheduled to leave…
  • I then found 2 Suites to Delhi
    • I’d visited India a decade ago and looked at quickly looked at current Visa protocol. It said for both US and UK citizens Visa on demand. Great, I proceeded to book
  • Instead of two tickets getting booked, only one ticket got booked to Delhi on the 13th
    • I wrote a post about how one was booked, but the other somehow got dropped. It was very annoying
  • While on the trip, Two tickets then opened up on the 15th
    • This meant extending the trip a little longer, but we booked them
    • This meant changing my ticket to the 15th from the 13th, and adding in my fiancee
  • Then while we were in Bali, two tickets opened up on the 12th.
    • This meant changing the trip again, but I really wanted Suites and my fiancee was super excited for Suites and the Taj Mahal.
  • Tours got booked a few days before departure.

As you can see, this trip has been a ton of balls in the air. In addition to that, I was also planning the travel of another couple that came along, as well as being on the road for a bit of it before we left.

What am I getting at?

India’s on Arrival Visa, is not a “Visa on Arrival” as I thought

When we showed up at the First Class Terminal at Changi, on the 12th, we were asked for our visas. I then said, isn’t it Visa on Arrival. She said, ” yes it is, but you need to have you paperwork processed, the stamp is on arrival.”

I was apoplectic.

How had I completely overlooked this? In the fog of planning the trip, ripping it apart, putting it back together multiple times, I began to realize I hadn’t fully researched the Indian Visa situation. She got on the phone with a supervisor who insisted we needed paperwork.

Our flight was delayed by 3 hours. We rushed to the Indian Embassy. The problem? It was a public holiday so their hours were short. We missed the expedited processing by 90 minutes. We hopped in a taxi to another place to get processed. Again, closed for the public holiday.

It is the most embarrassing travel mistake I’ve ever made. I’ve had nightmares about something like this. And it happened.

While sitting in a coffee bean, in a state of shock, I began to pitch ideas. Do we just go home? Would you want to go elsewhere?

My fiancee was amazing. Completely cool, calm, and collected. She just said, we’re on holiday, let’s spend time here in Singapore, go somewhere else.

Things turned around.

Luckily, I have a bit of experience booking award tickets, and quickly gathered my thoughts. Where could we go? What has the best options for experiential cabins? Points we have, etc.

Our delayed flight was due to depart at 7pm. I found Etihad First Class departing at 8pm headed to Abu Dhabi, a night layover, and apartments to Paris. 90k AA miles. Amazing. We threw them on hold and headed back to the airport to cancel our new Sing Suites.

Lessons I learned.

Obviously, read all the requirements for visas, but also, sometimes things don’t work out for a reason. We love Paris. We ended up experiencing Etihad First Class on the 77W and their Apartments to Paris. We woke up to sunrise over Sheik Zayed Mosque, and in the end, we’re going to fly back on Lufthansa First Class on the A380. This is a fantastic ending to the trip, and India would have been a footrace as we were scheduled to be there for less than 36 hours. Also, because of the trip changing so many times, we didn’t get any vaccinations, shots, etc. We’ll go back and do it right.

Even though I travel a lot, and book award flights for clients, I’m not perfect. I was devastated when this happened because I truly felt I had failed. And failed at something I good at, and do all the time. But, better it to be me to make the mistake than someone else. My fiancee was incredible throughout. Thank you for that bubba.

I have been wanting to review Etihad’s 77W for years. It was one of the first insane cabins I’d ever read about, with doors, etc. And this provided a great way to redeem points to not only experience it, but check out Apartments too. I’d waited so long because I wanted to take advantage of the pricing out of S.E. Asia. And we did – 90k for over 15 hours of insane Etihad First Class. I’ll have full reviews of those coming up, plus YouTube videos. BYAH!


Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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  • […] you’ve following along the saga of our failed Indian Visas ( the biggest travel mistake of my life ) then you’ve known an Etihad Apartments review was coming. To those of you who haven’t […]

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  • derek August 15, 2019

    Can you explain the visa situation for Americans going to India?

  • Morgan August 15, 2019

    Sounds like a great adventure! Did you see the availability on AA for the flight or Etihad? Also did you piece you flight together or was it from Singapore to Paris? Thanks so much, enjoy your posts!

  • Mike Saint August 15, 2019

    Mistakes happen to the best of us. Fortunately your fiancé seems really easy going. Glad you had a great trip and thanks for sharing.

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