December 27, 2014

Madrid to Granada: When It Pays To Carry-On

Let's do some math.

We planned a bunch of open jaw flights on low-budget airlines. If we even had thought about checking bags, we would have been out +200€ more immediately.

Instead, we fit 10 days of our lives into our backpacks. Packing light pays off in a lot of ways: less weight to carry, less things to lose/get stolen, no checked bag fees. Today it paid off in the best way possible: euros.

This second leg of our journey from Madrid to Málaga with Iberia Airlines hit quite the snag when we tried to check-in this afternoon.

No. More. Seats.

"Do you know what overbooking is?"

I looked at the desk guy like...seriously? I speak more English than you, so YES.

The only information we had were these ridiculous tickets that said "Standby." 

We waited in multiple lines with no hope, never getting to a person with power, and finally just waited by the gate, like every pathetic standby passenger. 

Oh wait. We bought real tickets in September. All of the standby people had tickets. This wasn't some hopeful group of plane hoppers. And we were all standing around, hoping there were less of us than it appeared.

Marc noticed one of the desk people spoke English for a different flight. She had a computer, too. I went straight up to her and asked how many of us were on standby, and maybe she could tell us what number we were?

She pulled up the list, and we weren't on it! 

Then she went to page 2.

I excitedly found our 21 and 22.

I laughed with the reality check that we were not going to make it into the Málaga flight.

But the catch was our plans had changed after our plane ticket purchases. Tonight we were supposed to fly to Málaga, then take crazy bus connections to get to our AirBnB stay over in Granada.

"Are there any seats left on the Granada flight at 19h50?"

Everything got better when she assured me, "Oh yes, there is plenty of space."

But she was worried: "What about your checked bags?!" I smiled and replied, "Oh, we only have hand luggage."

Disaster avoided! Thank you, carry-ons!

We went up to the overwhelmed customer service desk with our solution, and the lady tapped her keyboard for several moments before producing our new free ticket change to Granada.

We were good to go!

Then she handed us another slip of paper. It said 125€.

And there was one for each of us.

So despite the terrible strategy of overbooking by Iberia Airlines, it worked out the best possible way for us. We flew directly to Granada at no extra cost, and with fresh new money in our pockets!

These numbers count both Marc and me together...

Original plan math = -120€
Flight Madrid to Málaga: 90€
Train Málaga airport to Málaga center: 5€
Bus Málaga center to Granada: 25€

Potential losses math = -210€
Another night in Madrid + food: 100€
Alhambra tickets: 30€
Overnight in Granada: 50€
Train Málaga airport to Málaga center: 5€
Bus Málaga center to Granada: 25€

Final math = +154€!!!
Flight Madrid to Granada: 90€ (exchanged from our previous flight to Málaga)
Bus Granada airport to Granada center: 6€
Iberia Airlines vouchers: +250€

While I may not readily recommend Iberia Airlines, I will say that it worked heavily in our favor this time around. Just make sure you check-in way in advance if you fly with them, and only go to the airport if you have a real seat number!

A 5-year-old Spanish boy gave me a kiss on the plane, and our AirBnB host welcomed us at her bodega (wine and tapas bar) with large helpings and tapas.

Thank you, Granada, for such a generous and loving welcome!

And thank you, Iberia Airlines, for paying for the Granada segment of our #SwagVil2Spain trip!