the trip that was not to be

In the middle of 2019 I found online a good flight deal.  The exact deal was from Turkish Airlines to fly business class from North America to Singapore!  After visiting its airport twice, maybe it was time to leave the airport and visit the city state, right?  Nope…

trip planning post?

I typically don’t document the planning stages of our trips in a stand alone post.  This one deserves an exception for one reason — the global pandemic declared by the World Health Organization on 11 March 2020, and our scheduled departure date was 22 March 2020.  Spoiler alert!  This trip didn’t happen.  But this trip had different versions.

Version one

Before we got on Turkish Airlines in Montreal (YUL) towards Singapore (SIN), we needed to find a way to the airport.  To ensure lots of time, I booked the train (Via Rail), Toronto to Montreal, the day before flying, and booked an airport hotel at YUL to give us a solid time buffer if bad weather showed up, and a short walk to check-in with our luggage.  I had zero appeal to stay in the city and trek to Montreal’s airport.  March weather in both YUL and YYZ can vary from cold and snow (better known as winter), to temperate or even warm.  With a way to get to our flight, next up was to determine what to do. 

Hands up who thought of Disney immediately?

No?  Let me explain.

Yes, to travel halfway around the world to go to Walt Disney’s cultural export to the world.  For us, this was a dream after our second visit to Walt Disney World in 2016.  Now, to be honest I was skeptical of Disney before 2011. 

  • It’s for kids, right?
  • It’s just a bunch of rides?
  • How many days of hotdogs, hamburgers, and french fries will I endure?
  • What could be so exciting for adults?
  • Doesn’t “Once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all” apply?

The answers are no, no, TOTALLY NO, lots, and definitely no, respectively.

This came to light after our trip in 2011.  My options at the time were either beach (not a fan), or Disney (how bad could it be?).  I selected Disney, and by the end of the first full day I came to the realization that the Disney theme parks have significantly more to offer adults than children.  Excellent food selection, ability to sign-up for behind-the-scenes tours, drink selection, and, from working with marketers for years, non-stop branding and messaging.  Truly, it is impressive the detail that goes into the theme parks, and on-resort hotels.  With that idea approved, I shuffled our options around and the resulting route was: Singapore, to Hong Kong, up to Tokyo, over to Shanghai, and back to Singapore.

This route allowed three for the four legs to be booked with airline loyalty points that we had collected.  The only paid route was with low cost carrier HK Express.  Hotel searches commenced.  As timing in Singapore was set, those were the first hotels I booked using non-airline points.

February 2020

By February 2020, travel in and out of China was being restricted, along with Hong Kong, and Japan soon following suit.  Borders for Singapore were open and the country had a robust system in place to perform extensive contact tracing for its few cases.  However, our Disney stops had disappeared. No more Hong Kong, Japan, nor China.  What to do with a great fare to Singapore?

Version Two

Of all the trips I have planned and we have taken, this was the first time the majority of the trip had to be changed.  Our arrival and departure from Singapore remained the same.  The challenge of what to do between those flights returned.

I honestly cannot remember what locations were offered, and discussed.  The winning locations to visit were Bali, Indonesia and Perth, Australia.


Once Little Miss found the many jungle location hotels, complete with private plunge pools she was set.  For me, Western Australia was the only state we didn’t visit in 2018.

This route was simple and was scheduled to be Singapore, Bali, Perth, Singapore.  With the refunded points I scored business class on Singapore Airlines for the Perth to Singapore.  Of the many Singapore-Bali options, we opted for more Delft houses and booked KLM.  Jetstar was the missing link to get us from Bali to Australia.

Now, this route was being solidified in early March.  In retrospect, I was beginning to doubt our ability to take this trip because I made a patchwork of refundable, and non-refundable flights and accommodations.  Still I thought “It’s still good.  We can go on vacation.  It’s not that big of a deal.”

And then…

once the WHO declared the global pandemic — this trip wasn’t going to occur.  Just as quickly I had booked version two, it was time to unwind it.  I shifted through emails and websites to find and press the cancel button.  To the best of my recollection the results were:

Easy Parts

  • Refundable airfare: Turkish Airlines Montreal-Singapore return and KLM’s Bali-Singapore.
  • HK airfare — as borders closed and travel was not possible, the airline refunded the fare
  • Hotel reservations cancelled without penalty were the ones in Tokyo, Perth, and Hong Kong

Ok Parts

Bookings that allowed the reservation to be turned into future travel credits

  • Jetstar

Meh Parts

Reservations that did not allow for refund, but allowed for change of date:

  • Hotel in Bali

On the points side I had 100% success through airline point programs getting the points back.  The final and crappy side was that I used another points program for three hotels, in which one was refunded, and the other two were lost, and points were forfeited, even after approaching the company for a goodwill gesture.  This sucked because it was the longest hotel reservation in Singapore, in a decent hotel too!


Finally, I’ll share a work related tidbit.  My bosses were not 100% in agreement with this trip, however they did clearly state I would required to bring my company laptop in case I got stuck during any part of the trip and would therefore be available.

After a lot of searching, review, planning, our big trip in 2020 disappeared.  On the upside all of our friends and family have survived the part two years.  For us we quickly decided to get on a plane and try to explore the gigantic country we live in.  And the first of those trips occurred in October 2020…


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