COVID-19 Travel Advisory: Stay up to date with the latest on the coronavirus pandemic.   Learn More >

Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Asia
Reload this Page >

Getting home from Vietnam with flight bans due to Coronavirus

Getting home from Vietnam with flight bans due to Coronavirus

Old Mar 5th, 2020, 05:33 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,460
Getting home from Vietnam with flight bans due to Coronavirus

I returned from Vietnam late Tuesday night (actually very early Wednesday). I did that thing most Fodorites strongly recommend against doing--I took a tour. I have traveled solo extensively in Europe but decided not to do so for this trip. I had a good experience with Gate 1 on the two times I did take a tour (Thailand and South Africa/Swaziland), so went with them. Turned out to be a good idea!

I flew Korean Air and had a layover in both directions in Seoul. I think it was four days before the flight home that I got an email from Korean Air saying that my 12:35 pm flight was changed to 11:00 pm. OK, no complaint, as it gives me an extra day in Hanoi. Right after that, I got an email from Gate 1 saying it was changed to 2:20 am, almost 24 hours earlier! Now what? I emailed both to find out what was going on, got no answer.

A couple days later, we found out that the Vietnamese government had banned all flights from Hanoi to Seoul and vice versa. Oh great! It was impossible to get through to either Korean Air or Gate 1. At one point, Tom, our tour guide, said he thought Korean Air had had a meltdown. Oh great, that's encouraging! Now the fun begins...

Tom (who was great) spent two hours on the phone Tuesday afternoon (he finally got through to Gate 1). At the end, they sent me an email with a new itinerary. The crazy thing was that we couldn't fly from Hanoi to Seoul but could fly from Ho Chi Minh City to Seoul. So they had me flying Hanoi-HCM-Seoul-JFK. The only problem was that they had me leaving Seoul 6-1/2 hours before I got there!

After dinner, Tom spent another two hours on the phone but wasn't able to get it changed. Tom recommended that I should not avoid taking the flight to HCM, and things being the way they were, I agreed. He said in HCM, I could go right to the airline's desk and change the Seoul-JFK flight.

The tour guides don't normally go to the airport with you, but given the circumstances, Tom went with me. This turned out to be much easier for me, since when I got there, they had my name in the system but no ticket issued for me! Without my saying anything, he fixed it and even arranged to have someone meet me in HCM. Thankfully, there I was able to change the Seoul-JFK flight and made it home.

Despite this fiasco in getting a flight home, I definitely don't regret going and had a great trip!
And taking a tour isn't always a bad thing...

SusanP is online now  
Old Mar 5th, 2020, 06:32 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 984
I'm so glad you got home safely. It's nice that you had an exceptional tour guide to act as your advocate. However, that does not necessarily mean that a tour is the best way to travel to SEA. At this point, I even resent the day tours we sometimes have to take due to logistical challenges. To each his own.
CaliforniaLady is offline  
Old Mar 5th, 2020, 07:08 PM
  #3  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 22,984
Welcome home and thanks for the update on these unexpected complications!
kja is offline  
Old Mar 5th, 2020, 07:22 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,905
Wow! What a maze of complications.

Thank goodness for a man like time who cared enough to see you through.

In this case the tour guide was the saving grace.

As for to go on your own or with a guide itís up to the individual.
jacketwatch is online now  
Old Mar 5th, 2020, 07:26 PM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,460
I realize that a tour may not be the best way to see SE Asia, since I have done so much independent travel myself, but in this case, it worked for me.

I forgot to mention the luggage situation. Since I knew I would have to change the Seoul-JFK flight, I could only check my bag through to Seoul. When I changed that flight, they also rerouted my luggage through to JFK. I was worried about this working, so was very happy to see my bag come out of the shute at JFK. Very impressed! 😀

And yes, Tom was a great help!


Last edited by SusanP; Mar 5th, 2020 at 07:30 PM.
SusanP is online now  
Old Mar 5th, 2020, 08:09 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 984
What were your favorite sights, and your not so favorite?
CaliforniaLady is offline  
Old Mar 5th, 2020, 08:21 PM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,460
I will do a trip report. Right now, working on my tablet because my hard drive on my laptop died. I can type much faster on my laptop with a regular-size keyboard. 😀
SusanP is online now  
Old Mar 5th, 2020, 11:06 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,921
Good to hear you enjoyed the trip despite the travel complications on the way back. I am with CaliforniaLady re using tours, but it does sound as though your tour guide went above and beyond. Although it does sound as though Gate 1 itself could have done better?

looking forward to reading all about your trip.
crellston is offline  
Old Mar 5th, 2020, 11:40 PM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,460
As you can see, I'm having trouble getting back on US time, which is why I'm still awake now . 😀
I'm pretty sure Gate 1 did want to help, they were just overwhelmed with calls, with a lot of people in the same situation as I was. The message they were giving was asking people who weren't traveling right away to call back later. And yes, Tom definitely went above and beyond!

Last edited by SusanP; Mar 5th, 2020 at 11:44 PM.
SusanP is online now  
Old Mar 6th, 2020, 12:25 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 4,438
Thanks for posting this, Susan. Good to read real stories from people who are traveling during these unnerving times.
Bravo to Tom--what a gem!---- and to Gate1 for using the services of excellent people like him.
As someone who, like you has traveled solo, I know how great it is, when things go awry, to have an advocate working out logistics and sharing the stress--whether via a tour group, a great travel planning/booking company, or a friend/partner/travelmate!
Welcome home and rest well.
CaliNurse is offline  
Old Mar 6th, 2020, 12:35 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 8,019
I am glad you had a great trip and got home safely. I, too, took a tour in SE Asia even thought I am usually an independent traveler. It worked well for me. Isn't Vietnam amazing?
KTtravel is online now  
Old Mar 6th, 2020, 03:18 PM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,460
Yes, it was great having someone who speaks the language going to bat for me.
And yes, Vietnam was amazing!
SusanP is online now  
Old Mar 7th, 2020, 04:30 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,234
SusanP,
Welcome home! It's wonderful to hear that you had a great trip. Thank you so much for sharing the amazing story of your actual return; how lucky that your guide, Tom, worked so hard on your behalf! Kudos to him and to Gate 1 for having someone who is so dedicated on their team.
progol is offline  
Old Mar 7th, 2020, 07:35 AM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,460
progol, thanks. I agree about Tom!
SusanP is online now  
Old Mar 7th, 2020, 09:22 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,071
Welcome back, good to hear in the end everything worked fine. I agree, sometimes a tour is a good thing. Or any situation when you have a real person on the ground that can negotiate for you in an emergency. We had a private tour guide who did just that for us in Peru, and I will always be grateful to him.
xyz99 is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
waldoputty
Cruises
47
Mar 14th, 2020 10:38 AM
AGM_Cape_Cod
Europe
9
May 13th, 2010 05:10 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO