The Fate of the Free Round Trip Tickets

More than three years have passed. The first post on onelonelytraveler.wordpress.com clearly suggests that the blogsite has gone old, and the owner for that matter.

Exactly thirty-four entries have been posted since October 2014, a not so impressive number if you think of me as a hard core traveler, adventurer and writer all at the same time. My regular 9-5 was never mentioned in any of the entries anyway. The blogsite went on an indefinite hiatus last year. I planned to take the whole thing down, cancelling annual subscriptions to the domain name and mapping. When I decided to keep it, I couldn’t map it again. Now, you don’t wonder why there is “.wordpress” thing in the web address now.

The last few entries were crafted with so much effort until I quit writing. But I am not going to talk about it here. Since this is my maiden post this year, I thought of writing about something light and humorous, a story of a blessing in disguise, mishaps and adventure.

A friend invited me for an out of town trip together with a common friend. The plan was to land in Cebu, take a ferry to Bohol, head to south Cebu via outrigger boat from Panglao, make our way back to Cebu City then back to Manila. For some reason, we wanted to book round trip tickets.

Everything was set – hotel reservations, itineraries, tour guide contacts, stuff to bring and travel time consideration from point to point. We met at the airport early to check ourselves in. While checking in our bags, the (insert name of airline here) staff asked us if we were not in a hurry. It’s quite early so everything was cool. She said that our flight will be rerouted to Tagbilaran for a reason that was never mentioned. We never asked why. Maybe she was expecting us to get mad and yell at her. I saw her face brightened when we said it’s okay. She went ahead processing everything, left us for a while and returned with a few bills and three yellow cards in her hands. She handed the bills first, 1,500 pesos to be exact, as compensation since, assumingly, we had to land in Cebu City so we need money at their expense for the ferry ride. Everyone exchanged grins. The grins turned into smiles of excitement when she handed us three yellow cards and began explaining what they were for. We just got free round trip tickets to any domestic destinations as compensation for the rerouted flight! What a great way to start the day! We immediately took the cards after all the explanations and processing had been done. We were all excited thinking of where our next trip would be while heading to the boarding gate.

We arrived at Tagbilaran airport earlier than expected so we were able to start our itinerary early. It was just the start of our six days adventure in Bohol and Cebu, exploring Tagbilaran, Carmen, Panglao, Badian, Moalboal and Cebu City all of which will be discussed in detail in the next couple of blogs.

Fast forward to day six, the day we had to leave the Queen City of the South. We really didn’t have definite plans in Cebu City as one of my friend and I had been there before. We only had to show our other friend around so we went to Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu, Magellan’s Cross and Fort San Pedro then headed to Taboan Market for some serious pasalubong shopping. We had a discussion if we were to push through with the Temple of Leah trip as it is quite far from the city center and we have to arrange a private trip with a cab driver. We ended up going back to the hotel only to decide that Owen and I would like to take a quick trip there before heading back and so we did.

Fast forward to judgement time. We arrived at the hotel and had enough time to freshen up and make our last minute bag packing. There wasn’t much traffic on our way, though Mactan-Cebu airport was a bit far from Cebu City. I had a little bit of anxiety as a long queue of passengers unfolded upon our entry to the airport. There was only one entrance door and the distance from the entrance to where we were standing was, uhm, uncomfortable enough that we kept on looking at the people near the baggage scanner.

Finally, it’s our turn. Quickly, we ran to the designated check in counters. We wondered why there was no queue. We knew it! We were late for about ten minutes! The then excited team turned into disappointed and worried individuals in front of the check in counter. We begged and pleaded for the staff to try if we can still get through the closed boarding gate after they had made the final call to no avail. We were advised to rebook our flight at the ticketing office. We left the lady with low hopes that we could make it to work the next day as there might be no available seats from the rest of the flights that day. It was Sunday. Worse, it’s Monday the next day. What’s even worse, if there are available seats from the succeeding flights, they must be hella expensive. Bet you’re nodding your head right now.

We reached the ticketing office. We squeezed ourselves and our baggage through the narrow door, walked straight to the lady in yellow seated in front and asked for available seats of flights bound to Manila. There were a few, just enough for us but boy, they cost 9,000 pesos each! I felt a little lightheaded and thought of taking a ferry instead, seriously. Everyone was stunned. No one could move, just staring at each other, then to the empty chairs and to the walls. I am definitely not shelling out 9,000 pesos for an airfare neither will I be absent at work the next day! I remembered the cards the lady at the airport gave us and asked the lady if we could use it. Luckily, we can. My friend phoned their customer service and arranged everything over the phone. Next thing we knew, we had new boarding passes and were sitting at the boarding gate taking groupfies.

We had to say goodbye to our free round trip tickets but at least we managed to save 9,000 pesos and another vacation leave. Be at the airport two hours before boarding, unless you have checked in online.

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