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Trip Report The trip to Glacier National Park that didn't happen

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Yes, I feel cheated . But, we have been able to travel a lot the past couple of years, so I just chaulk this up to a learning experience and trying to have some patience.

I booked airfare last August for this trip with United Airlines. They service a lot of smaller towns, like Kalispell, with Sky West Airlines. The flight was supposed to depart Tulsa @ 5:08pm and arrive in Kalispell at 8:40pm. So, even if I had been there by midnight or even early the next morning, I would have understood.

I knew I was in trouble about 4 hours before our flight when I got an automated message on my phone saying that my flight had been cancelled.

So I get to the airport 3 hours early and was optimistic that I could catch a different flight, maybe they could put me on a different carrier, or as a worse case scenario another flight the next morning.

Apparently there had been a hailstorm the previous day in Denver that had damaged 40 or 5o planes. Denver is a major hub for Skywest and United, so this effected a lot of their planes. So there was no service to Kalispell at all. We looked at flying into Spokane, Calgary, Great Falls, Missoula, Butte, and Helena. None of those places would rent me a car one-way to Kalispell and it would have been very costly to do that anyway. Plus that would have been anywhere from a 5-8 hour drive. I wish that United would have notified me the day before or even earlier in the day when they knew they had a problem. Flying Delta with a connection in Salt Lake wasn't possible because all of those seats had already been take. There was a possibility but not guaranteed that I could fly to Salt Lake, spend the night there and catch a flight late the next night arriving in Kalispell around 11:00pm. 27 hours after I was scheduled. This would involve me paying for a hotel in Salt Lake, and killing a day there. I guess we could have done something there, but I was unprepared and we would have needed to rent a car there. Car rental at the last minute is expensive.

We opted to just get our money back on the flight and come back home.
We did loose our cabin rental $1800. We also lost about $300 of tours that we had booked with Glacier Park Inc.(red bus tour, tea in Waterton, 3 boat tours) They allowed me a refund of $19. I am happy to say that most other vendors/concessionare do allow for a cancellation with a small fee like $5 or none at all). Those major vendors include Delaware North, Aramark, Forever Lodging. Glacier Park Inc is not one of those. Yes, it does say all of that in their policy and I knew that. Just saying.

But, the biggest lesson I learned-- Don't book lodging that you can't cancel or don't have insurance on. I wouldn't have minded loosing 1 nights worth, but 5 nights on a cabin is a lot. This was on VRBO. I fully understand the owners situation as there would be little chance they could rent the cabin to someone else that late in the game.
Yes, I could have still gone(provided I wasn't delayed further), but cutting a 4 day trip down to 2 and not doing it the way I wanted to would not have been good. Plus, they had another huge storm in Denver last night, so who know what all that would have involved. According to the Weather Channel, it is a real mess there still today. Our plane that we could have flown was delayed for 2 hours I noticed as we left the airport. So, not sure what happened to that one either. It is irritating to have lost $2100 on this trip.

Of course, the best option is to just take a longer vacation and drive. This way you aren't relying on air so much. I am self-employed and can't get away for much more than 5 days at a time. So we just take long weekend trips. If we are going anywhere much at all this involves flying to get there due to time contraints.

I am going to Rocky Mountain National Park in August, so that is a good note. My wife and daughter aren't going with me on this one though. I am driving and camping there with a couple of college boys that work for me. I went to Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe earlier this summer with my nephew. My wife and I went to Monterey and then we went as a family to Bryce/Utah this summer, so I have a lot to be thankful for.

I did file for compensation from United. I don't think they owe me anything and don't really expect it. But, it never hurts to ask, maybe I'll get lucky.

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