I’m heading to the World Cup in two weeks and last night, I spent most of my evening confirmation my flight reservations and choosing which hotels to keep and to cancel. There were several hiccups as well with my flights due to schedule changes and long wait times for a phone representative. Here’s how I prepared for my flights and hotels in two weeks for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Double check your flight itineraries. I had booked my flights to and from Brazil on American Airlines. I went onto aa.com to double check the dates and times including the seat assignments. Sometimes there will be a schedule change that you might not have been notified in advance. Sometimes equipment swaps happen and you lose your original seat assignment. It’s always wise to double check. Since I am traveling internationally, it’s always wise to have a hard copy of your ticket just in case.
I had booked three intra-Brazilian flights back in November of last year. All three flights had schedule changes, but only two of them were major. On one of the flights, I bought a nonstop ticket, but it had changed to a 1-stop connection. That totally didn’t work for me because I would arrive when the game match is starting! On another flight, I was scheduled much later to flight out, but was changed 5 hours earlier! On both instances, I had to call Orbitz (which was a one hour phone wait) and cancel my reservations because of the major schedule changes. The prices were $158 and $136 which I received a full refund and rebooked for $105 and $39 on GOL’s own website. It was an actual win-win situation for me because it was lower on the low cost carrier’s (LCC) own website.
Make sure your flights have a seat assignment and attach your frequent flier number. On GOL, I was able to add my Delta Gold Medallion number (Skyteam Plus Elite) and I was able to choose much better seats. GOL has an agreement with Delta, but they’re still not part of an alliance. I’m assuming GOL might join the Skyteam alliance in the near future. My flight on TAM that was booked in November 2013, still had my United Airlines frequent flier number. Now that TAM is part of the oneworld alliance, I had my frequent flier number changed to American Airlines where I would be earning mileage credit and receive benefits such as priority boarding and priority seating.
Since I’m staying for almost 10 days in Brazil and in four different cities, I needed to double check on my hotel reservations. Back in September and November of last year, I booked a bunch of speculative hotels which were cancellable and fully refundable. I’m glad I was able to cancel the Holiday Inn in Sao Paulo and several other hotels on Booking and Hotel.Info. If I had forgotten to cancel, I would’ve been charged the first night and assessed a cancellation fee. On the firm hotels, I doubled checked by calling up the hotels and seeing if my reservation was still in-tact. In addition, I went ahead and printed the confirmation e-mails.
I put all my printed flight papers and hotel itineraries into an envelope where it will be safe. International travel can be overwhelming, especially on a trip to the World Cup where it will be the focus on every television set in the world.