Tough Decision: Cancelling A Good Travel Deal

By  | 

Last night I saw the American Airlines deal to Beijing for $450+ as I was leaving a work event around 10PM. I’ve been to Beijing once, shortly after the Olympics, and loved it! The thought of going back, particularly to the Great Wall was really appealing. Not to mention picking up 15,000 eqms for $.03 a mile!

Great Wall of China Summer 2009

So as soon as I got home I started looking for fares, finally finding dates in early February. I also quickly looked up the visa policy, noting the free 72 hour visa for passengers in transit. At this point it was after midnight, so I booked it, knowing I’d have all day today to make sure I actually wanted to go and to see if anyone else wanted to come.

I was very excited this morning when I woke up and realized I had a trip to Beijing! I was in meetings all day, but started looking into accommodations, weather conditions, etc this afternoon. Well, the first disappointment was when I reread the visa policy.

Last night in my haste I’d interpreted it as a free visa for stays no longer than 72 hours. Totally (and unintentionally) disregarding the transit part.  There would be ways around this — like booking a cancellable ticket to Hong Kong — but it was no longer the uncomplicated process I had originally envisioned.

Then I looked at the weather. I knew Beijing would be cold, but hadn’t really pictured myself atop the Great Wall in freezing temperatures. But maybe there would be snow, and that would be even prettier than summer!

I also wondered what the smog would be like in the winter. The summer I visited, every day was smog free except for one, but during a layover in early January last year the pollution was so bad my eyes and throat were burning even though I never left the airport. Then I found a recent article comparing the current dangerous levels of smog to more like those seen in the winter!

Tianamen Square 2009

In 2009

Beijing Airport Pollution Jan 2012

in 2012

At that point I was really torn. There’s no guarantee that the weather would be bad or smoggy. And I did want to go back to Beijing. But I’d be traveling alone, so should I wind up freezing cold having difficulty breathing, there’d be no one to laugh it off with. Seemed like the potential for it to be less than ideal was high, and 3 days is a long time to spend somewhere not having fun, even on a good deal.

I tried looking for a slightly shorter stay to hedge my bets — a mileage run with a one night layover wouldn’t matter as much — bu the deal was gone. So after several hours of waffling, I finally decided to cancel my ticket, 4 hours within the limit. I might regret it, but this way I can apply those funds to a destination that has less uncertainty or more traveling companions. For those of you who booked the deal, I look forward to hearing your reports and looking at all your pictures!

What’s the toughest travel deal decision you’ve had to make?


What did you think of this post? Give us a +1 above or leave a comment!

And don’t miss out on any of Jeanne & Keri’s adventures and tips.

dreamstime_xs_12312609You can now subscribe via E-Mail!  (This time it really works)

…or RSS Feed and follow us on twitter and Facebook.

Sometimes when you comment, it goes to a blank page and looks like it doesn’t post. It actually does, I promise!


Full Disclosure: I may receive affiliate credit from links in this post or on this site which will help fund my travels. Thank you for your support!

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts

Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world.


  1. Kevin

    October 5, 2013 at 1:54 am

    Just pay the money for a travel visa. They are pricey ($130), but I’ve never met an American who was denied.

  2. Joey

    October 5, 2013 at 2:07 am

    I would have applied for a tourist visa and transit thru Beijing then go to Harbin to checkout its winter ice festival sculptures—— they even have a huge Great Wall of china there … Made of ice!

    • Keri Anderson

      October 5, 2013 at 2:18 am

      That sounds awesome! Can that be done on a short trip?

      • Joey

        October 5, 2013 at 12:19 pm

        I guess it depends on how short the trip is! One can do the above during a 5 day weekend I suppose. The ice festival is quite a big deal in Manchuria… but it’ll be FREEZING! I’d just avoid Beijing when possible due to the smog. The only time I spent an entire week in Beijing was during the Paralympics in 2008, a month after the Olympics and when all the factories within that ‘bowl’ were shutdown for 3 months. No smog. Less pollution.

  3. Dia, The Deal Mommy

    October 5, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    I hear you. My family lived in Beijing 97-01 and the smog was unbearable in the winter then…I can’t even imagine it 12 years later!

    I booked the Seychelles-Dublin $300 OW Eithad biz class mistake fare, then let it go…realized it was just too much on my limited schedule.

  4. caveman

    October 5, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    I have heard a lot of stories about the great wall being a very busy place. So crowded that you have to walk shoulder to shoulder in summer time. Is that true? At least the picture above seems very peaceful and quiet unlike the description in tripadviser. I was planning a 72 hour transit in August but then I was not sure if its is a good idea. Any suggestions please

    • Keri Anderson

      October 5, 2013 at 3:49 pm

      I went in early May of 2009 to the Mutianyu portion of the wall. I think it was mid-morning? There was a little bit of a crowd right off the cable car, but then there were large sections that we had to ourselves and by the time we got to the last section you were allowed to (that hill in the distance) there were only about 3 people.

  5. Dia, The Deal Mommy

    October 5, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    Depends on where you go. Badaling is always a zoo. There are other spots that are less so. If you want a life time experience ( I hate “bucket list”), check this out: Seeing the “end of the world” from the Chinese perspective is a real mind-bend.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *