Skip to main content

The Airticket Saga

We Arrived in Brazil with all the great intentions of Sailing on after a few days towards Capetown

Well when we arrived the covid bomb had hit the world and we were in a very precarious position we weren't well informed and we didn't know how it affected us but fortunately we arrived six hours before Brazil closed its borders to sailors and we needed to get cleared into the country or leave as quickly as we had left French Guyana. Fortunately we had managed to get in touch with Brian who is a friend i made when sailing toward the Caribbean and knowing i had such a good person helping us gave me confidence so we asked him for his help and he adopted us as though we were family and made us welcome in true Brazilian style but add to that true English traditional style as well

I will go into details of the Stay with our family in Brazil later, just saying that Brian got us through customs and immigration in one month after arrival and during that time we found out more and more about what was happening in South Africa with the information that the Cape was closed and we found out that if we carried on we would probably only be able to get flights home to our boats in 2021 because Cyrils puppeteers were controlling his strings well and international travel was not on the list
So after loads of deliberation we decided to leave the boat in Cabedelo and ask Brian to care for it while we were away and then come back to Brazil in January and finish the Job of getting it to Capetown when all the troubles were more settled

After much discussion John and I decided to buy tickets through a travel agent because if we did it ourselves on the internet we would not be in control if there were any cancellations etc. It turned out to be a really good decision or so we thought at the time

Pamela introduced us to a travel agency where one of her friends works and we booked airtickets from Joao Pessoa to Papeete flying on LATAM airlines and we were to fly to Sao Paulo to Chile then to Easter Island and onto Papeete and we were happy
Tavie and Keila were assisting us and because we were in quarantine and isolation in Brazil they booked the tickets and took time out to help us and come to the boat to let me swipe the credit card for Johns and my tickets. Tavie had to find the boatyard in the rain on his motorcycle the first time and i had to practice portugese to get all the transactions done but its seems when there is money to be paid its universal language
I am certain they had no idea of the trouble they had taken on in us becoming their clients
I kept following up on the tickets because John spent a lot of time on the internet checking which countries were open and which were closing and it was a nightmare for him.
Well after a few days of no response I contacted LATAM on their Facebook page and asked them if they were going bankrupt because they had sold tickets on a flight which wasnt showing on the booking lists in the internet and they assure me all was well BUT on day three we got an email saying that our flight was cancelled and the same day LATAM announced that they were filing for chapter 11 business rescue but they also let me know we could get our money back and would not lose our tickets and the R$19836.00 we had paid out
I am not sure what instinct made me write to Latam about going bankrupt but it helped so i should follow those more
So we started again

By now we had been told that the first flight out of Chile to Papeete would be in August and there were alternative flights flying out of Los Angeles on June 14th so we contacted Keila and asked her to look into those for us and she applied to LATAM for a refund and booked our tickets on American Airlines for those dates
The refund was given and new tickets booked only to be told a few days later that President Trump had written an executive order that anyone that had been in Brazil before the 28th and then the 26th of June was not permitted to enter USA. Now we had a problem as Brazil was becoming a major hotspot for Covid and if we waited it out we had many risks on top of potentially catching the virus. We had to make some decisions to get home
John and I sat with Brian and discussed our options and after deliberating we looked at the possibility that if we flew out of Grenada we could get into the USA and get to Los Angeles and then make the flight booked from there to Papeete
After a few hours on the internet we contacted Tavie and Keila again and asked them to change the tickets again from Grenada and she came back that at an extra cost of R$6380 we could do it so more money was to be spent and Tavie came out for the credit card again but this time he knew his way
and It was booked
so now we had to get to Grenada and even though I was happy to wait in Brazil until the Covid had passed but there was no way to get John to Grenada without huge costs so the decision was taken we would sail Crazy Sophia back to Grenada leave the boat there and get back to the boats in French Polynesia. John has by this time been away from Bev his lady for over three months already when we thought originally we would be away for just two in total
TO get to Grenada we would sail for 14 to 17 days and then when we arrived we would have 14 days quarantine which put us at the 2nd of July and our flights were booked to leave Grenada on the 5th so cutting it fine. We decided to get a covid certificate before we left to mitigate the quarantine and Brian helped us organise that the day before we left
We cleared out readied the boat with water food and diesel in that same day and the next afternoon on the tied we hugged our friends goodbye and sailed out towards Grenada
For those who want to read about the trip the daily logs are posted on the blog
It was an interesting trip and we made it in 14 days in days but in hours 13 days so depends how technical you want to be for the 2030 Nautical miles
On arrival we were told our flights booked out of Grenada on American Airlines were cancelled again so now we had sailed 14 days to achieve nothing and we still had no idea when we would get home toy our boats and we still had to do 14 days of quarantine
So It was back to Keila and Tavie and asking them to help us again and also Pamela to help push things along because Pamela speaks very good english so having her help to translate was essential
While busy changing the tickets for the umpteenth time John saw that we were flying through Miami and asked if we could stop there for a few days on our way to LA to meet the Flight to Papeete and unfortunately that caused huge confusion in translation and trouble for Keila and Tavie
Well eventually many days later we had booked flights from Grenada to Los Angeles and we were one step closer to home but not here yet because we still dont have flights to Papeete (technically we do have paid tickets bu not dates because we are finding out what dates they will fly and then we can get onto one of those but now the 20th July looks like the first date

The Saga part two
Well we got notice that flights for July 20th were not booked so we lost them and Keila told us she can now only book tickets in August and the first date we could fly was August the 6th. I asked that she book the flights and confirm them so the dates didnt move further out and we could then try and see if we can move them.
So we waited for two days before the tickets were delivered via email and it seemed very strange with Johns friends all the while sending us messages to show hundreds of tickets available on flights before the 6th of August
But we waited and when the tickets arrived I decided to phone American Airlines and find out why we couldnt get onto the earlier flights as it was not our fault the flights were cancelled and they had made the commitment that we could change the tickets free of charge if flights were cancelled
Well I logged onto Skype and phoned the help desk and was answered by a guy who really tried to help but after 25 minutes we were getting nowhere and he was trying to tell me that if i want to move the tickets we would have to pay in an extra USD$3750.00 each which isnt possible and then we were cut off
So i dialed again and got through to Kim and she was truly amazing not only did she move our tickets to a week earlier at no cost to us but she explained that Keila had sold us tickets that were airmiles based ????? On asking more I found out that she had used the airmiles of a man called Ricardo Polasi to book our tickets and thats why it was so hard to change the tickets and get then sorted out because only a fixed number of tickets were allocated to those flights and using airmiles restricted what could happen

So then the investigation started and I asked a friend to contact Keila and find out why she had done it that way because i was thinking of fraud and how I would be arrested at the airport for using someone elses airmiles and then never get back to Mrs Opela
Well it turns out that in Brazil it is common practice to get people with airmiles and sell the miles for them and book others flights using the miles and then charging the customer for the flight and of course sharing the profits
If I had been told I would never have agreed but now if I try and change the flights it will mean more delays and bigger payments and then the chances of never seeing the initial $2800 we paid each

Anyway for now we are keeping these tickets as they are and when we get out of Quarantine we will go to AA and ask again if we can change the flights to an earlier date

Airtickets saga episode three

When we came out of Quarantine we headed as quickly as possible to Secret harbour so we could store Crazy Sophia and Alistair and ingrid would look after her while we were in polynesia and until we came back in January only to be told again a day or so later that the airports in Grenada was to remain closed as there was a dispute between American Airlines and the health authorities in Grenada about testing passengers before arrival and well arrogant AA lost this one
So we quickly got hold of AA again and told them not to cancel the LAX to Papeete flight as we would make it there in time and John was on a facebook page and he saw an advertisement for a delivery from Grenada to Newport RI and started investigating
and so another window of opportunity was opened and john went all the way to get details of the delivery and talking to the owners of the boat saying if they want us to deliver the boat we would as that way we could get to usa and then get a flight to connect with the papeete flight

Well with Johns experience and knowlege he managed to get the delivery secured and once again i was in a dilema as whether to stay in Grenada and applty for a new visa to get int French Polynesia or to follow with John and get back together. Well it didnt take long to decide that for my own reasons I would get on the delivery and sail to New York for 14 days or 1900 miles and the owners said if we did that they would supply us tickets from Newport to LAX so we could get the flights
and two days later Alistair had been to see us and checked Crazy Sophia out and given us a lift to the Boat named Tilt.
I know Alistair wont mind me saying this but its amazing how friends come to your aid when you need them even when they are going through stressful times of their own with moving house cars breaking down and possibly having to sail up to another island to fetch their daughter and then do 14 days quarantine for making that sacrifice. But they were there for us bringing us food and all sorts in quarantine as well as helping with mechanics and many other things.

Anyway on the 9th we sailed out of Grenada on Tilt and we are on our way to Newport RI so we can get home to our boats and while i am writing this part of the story we are motoring with no wind and around 5 days to go to get there.
Oh and we have just heard that we have to have another set of Covid tests on arrival so that we dont have to do another 14 days of quarantine and the owners have agreed to pay for that test and flights from Boston to LAX
It is starting to feel like we may have a chance of getting on that plane on the 2nd of August and arriving in Papeete and although I am sure this saga is not over i am going to post it and i will keep updating it as I go along

Well I am now in the cockpit of the boat typing this story and will only know more when we arrive in Newport and when that happens we will see if there are new hurdles to jump on the way to Papeete

Lets see what tomorrow brings


Popular posts from this blog

Getting Mrs Opela ready to sail again

Hi All I have been back two weeks now and working towards getting mrs Opela back in order again because when I got back the fact that i had left her alone for such a long time made her decide to take revenge Bev on Dandelion had been looking after her for me by airing her out once a week and checking the bilges as well and running the engine once or twice for me and for that I am truly thankful but my lady is a very jealous lady and she wasnt happy to be left standing so when I got on board I was expecting to find mould and black algae and a host of other things lurking in corners not often looked at. My first big one was that the new stay wires i had had installed in Le Marin in Martinique a year and a half ago were worn such that one fell on the deck because the hook swaged to the end simply snapped and on further inspection i found the others were all cracked as well which means I cannot sail her. I phoned the suppliers and they were struggling to remember my boat but soon r

Day 13 Newport trip

Start of Day 14 Position: 40° 39.8787' N 071° 09.1321' W Boat: All good with the boat and we are sailing slowly Last night we had almost no winds so its very slow and it could mean we only arrive very late in the night tonight. People: we are both fine Speed: 2 to 3 KTS Wind: 4 kts Easterly Distance 74 miles sailed yesterday Course: true , to Newport Rode island Conditions: ok sailing conditions for very light winds 24-hour mileage: 74 miles with around 50 miles still to go to Newport with an estimate of 1806 miles sailed of the 1856 total miles Comments: It was very slow last night but we had to be vigilant because we are near New York and there is a lot of shipping traffic to look out for and then at 5 am the fog set in and you could see nothing but you could hear the ships horns blowing all around. And amongst that there were sports fishing boats racing around at over twenty knots with visibility down to less than half a mile and at times John said h