So since January of this year I have been logging onto Southwest.com and waiting for travel to be available to book past the first week in January 2016. It had been stuck at January 6th and everything pasted that was grayed out and too far out to book. I hadn’t checked since sometime in late May and just today I noticed that the systems have updated and they are now booking flights through March 8th.
I’m a bit of a planner. Ok, ok, I’m an obsessive and extremely thorough planner when it comes to the things that matter. I’ll admit it. It’s helpful for me in staying busy and feeling as prepared as possible for things. This shows up more in my life with things related to transition. I think a lot of that has to do with the long wait times we often have to endure through this process and the accompanying dysphoria that we’re trying to manage all the while. The planning helps to ease that for me and maybe pass the time a bit easier.
Whatever the case, I’m ecstatic, because these little things along the way really make the process feel that much more REAL! My round trip ticket (Boston, Massachusetts – Austin, Texas) was $300 exactly. I’ll be flying into Austin on the afternoon of Thursday, January 22, 2016 which will allow me 24 hours to get settled before my pre-op appointment on Friday the 23rd. I had initially planned on just flying in Friday morning before my appointment since my surgery is on the following Tuesday and I really wanted utilize my days off for the actual recovery time from the surgery, not the lead up to it. HOWEVER, I’ll be flying out of Boston in January, and the Northeast is known for it’s intense winters. The last thing I want is to be worried about my flight getting delayed or cancelled when I have an appointment I need to get to that same day. This process is already stressful and difficult enough, why add to it, if I don’t have to? My flight could certainly still end up being cancelled but at least this gives me a bit more of a buffer.
I am spending 4 weeks in Austin: January 22nd – February 18th, 2016. My 3rd and final post-op appointment is scheduled for February 17th, so if all goes well I should be set to leave afterward. I figured flying out the day after would allow for less of a rushed feeling. Stress is a HUGE factor when it comes to how the body heals. If you know that you are someone that is prone to stress, coming up with a plan pre-operatively to manage your anxiety/stress-levels will not only help you feel better, but will aide in your healing process. This shouldn’t be overlooked. I plan on talking more about this in future posts, as I’ve lived with anxiety for as long as I can remember.
The last thing that I wanted to mention is that you might want to look into booking your flights for surgery with an airline that allows you to rescheduled your flight without any associated fees or penalties. Most airlines will indeed let you change your flight day/time but they usually charge upwards of $150 plus the price difference of the actual flight. Southwest does NOT charge you a fee for canceling or changing your flight. Worst case scenario, they will credit your account for the same amount you paid and you have 12 months to choose a different flight from the date of purchase of the original ticket. At best they will literally refund your money, but this will depend on the category from which you purchased your tickets. Either way, this is a great option for folks if you aren’t sure of when you’ll be ready to return home from your surgery location. Healing can be unpredictable and it’s best to just PLAN for your plans to change. If you have a complication that requires you to stay in the area, your body isn’t going to care about your non-refundable, non-returnable ticket. ALSO, you’re likely going to have a lot of baggage since you have to be in the area for around a month. Southwest will allow up to 2 FREE checked bags, plus 1 carry-on and a personal item. That’s a lot of free luggage! I know it probably sounds like I must work for them, but I don’t. I’m just a satisfied customer! :o)
I plan on pursuing at least partial reimbursement for my airfare through my insurance company, as they do offer some travel and lodging benefits. I am unsure exactly how that is going to play out at the moment, but I’ll keep you updated. Until then…