Woman’s Honeymoon to Greece Was a Disaster, From Flight to Hotels

  • We booked our honeymoon flights on separate reservations using points, but it backfired. 
  • Although we booked four-star hotels, we learned star ratings aren’t the best quality indicator. 
  • We weren’t able to island hop and my husband barely made it back home. 

My husband and I got married this summer and we put most of our wedding expenses on reward credit cards, earning enough points to cover flights and hotels for our Greek honeymoon. 

We saved money, but we paid tenfold in mishaps throughout the trip. 

Things started to go wrong before we got to the airport 

“Honey, I missed my flight,” my new husband said to me three hours before our first flight of many was set to depart.

Should we have compared notes when we both received flight schedule changes? Absolutely! Did we? Nope.

But we also didn’t consider the possibility of an airline overbooking a flight and bumping only one of us to an entirely different plane. The first lesson of marriage: Damn the points and always book one reservation. 

And so began our honeymoon, with my husband frantically calling the airline as I drove us to the airport and stress sweated through my “Bride” sweatshirt. 

My husband had booked a codesharing flight, which meant the airline who sold him the ticket was only allotted so many seats on the plane because it was operated by a different airline. Fortunately, the airline that actually operated the plane was able to rebook my husband to his original itinerary with me. 

But that’s also when we learned of the airline’s no-show policy — if you miss a flight, you forfeit all remaining flights in your itinerary, including your return ones home. 

Now that he was going to Greece, it was up to the original airline to help him get home. He could either pay $700 for the ticket he already purchased or wait 24 to 48 hours for his original ticket to be reinstated.

We chose the cheaper option, but the airline continued to tell us to wait for the ticket every day for the next 10 days.

Things were going well once we arrived, but that didn’t last long 

The author and her husband smiling in front of the acropolis in greece

The beginning of our honeymoon was great but things started to go wrong almost immediately.
Janelle Leeson

Happily on our way to Greece, our honeymoon finally felt as if it were out of the movies.

Our first stop was Crete and our mornings were spent lying in bed, chatting with our airline in a hopeless attempt to secure a seat on the plane for my husband’s return trip home. 

But we also went olive-oil tasting, saw a 2,000-year-old olive tree, and listened to podcasts about the history of olive oil. At our Airbnb in the mountains, our host greeted us with homemade ice cream made with “the tears of the Mystica tree.” 

They’d be the best days of our honeymoon. 

Soon, we found ourselves at the Heraklion port, running to catch a boat after our ferry to Santorini was canceled without notice. Then, our ferry to Sifnos was canceled, and after that, our ferry to Milos.

Months of deliberating which of the 227 inhabited Greek islands we wanted to visit no longer mattered — a nationwide strike and poor weather conditions decided we wouldn’t go to any.

Island hopping nixed, we returned to Athens and checked into a four-star hotel complete with cigarette-burnt furniture, makeshift doorknobs, and a strip club next door. Turns out, hotel star ratings don’t hold weight

Still, we carried on. 

Athens Greece

Our honeymoon in Greece had some culinary highlights for sure.
Shutterstock/Anastasios71

Throughout the trip, we never tired of Greek salads, dolmas, and raki. But our final night called for something special: A Michelin-star restaurant complete with a hefty price tag, wine pairings, and a cheese trolley that became my culinary Everest. I didn’t bother to ask if the cheeses were pasteurized. 

My husband spent part of the meal on the phone with his bank and the airline, a last-ditch attempt to get back on the flight he paid for. 

Eventually, the climax of our honeymoon was upon us: A 4 a.m. showdown at the airline’s ticketing booth. We were prepared to beg for my husband’s seat on the plane.

The joke was on us. After 10 days of telling my husband he didn’t have a seat on our honeymoon flight, the airline printed him a ticket. No apology, no explanation, and no seats together.

Later in London, a ticketing-booth attendant took one look at our tickets — both of us in middle seats — and said, “Wow, someone really hates you two.” He moved us to adjoining seats, and we called it a win. 

The crappiest part of the journey was waiting for me once I got home 

About a week after returning from Greece, I felt like a knife was being lodged in my abdomen, slicing into my ribs in painful waves. 

As the ER doctor ran through the vague possibilities uncovered by my CT scan, I felt no better. “It’s probably not colon cancer,” he said. “It might be Crohn’s disease. Could be irritable bowel disease.”

Just then, a phone call. My stool sample results were in: I had E. coli. We suspected it was from all of the (apparently) unpasteurized cheese.

It was a honeymoon filled with mishaps, surprises, and a touch of E. coli for good measure. But we’ve been laughing about it all, at least as much as I can while recovering from an inflamed colon. 

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