Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Rough Landing

Saturday proved to be the only challenging day of my trip, and it wasn't just because I was up for 26 straight hours. John very kindly drove me to Heathrow Airport to catch my flight home. As he pulled up to the front of terminal 5 to drop me off he asked if I knew which door would be closest to my airline. And in that moment I realized my error.

Terminal 5 is used mainly by British Airways. This would have been fine except for one small detail. That was the airline I used to go to Luxembourg. It wasn't the airline I was using to fly home. Air Canada operates out of terminal 3, not 5. Heathrow is huge. The number 5 might be close to 3 when you count, but this isn't the case when you are talking about the layout of terminals at this airport. An analogy using cities would be someone driving a person to Toronto, only to arrive on the outskirts of the city and have that person say, "Oh, did I say Toronto? What I meant was Vancouver."

I still made it to my flight with plenty of time to spare. Once I cleared security I bought some water to have with me on the long journey home. About 45 minutes into the flight I was thirsty so I opened the bottle of water. I couldn't believe it as I sat holding an exploding geyser, one that was soaking my pants, my backpack and my knitting. Which brings me to an important travel tip. If you buy water to take on a flight do not accidentally buy sparkling water. It doesn't do well at high altitudes.

The plane was due to arrive around noon, and I had an hour and a half to connect with the small commuter flight up to Kamloops. The connection was a little tight, but I wasn't worried. Not, that is, until I checked the time and noted it was noon and we hadn't even started our descent into Vancouver. It turns out we had been flying into extremely strong headwinds the whole way and it had added on some extra flying time. Forty minutes of extra flying time. My connection time had just been upgraded from a little tight to almost impossible.

Still hopeful, the minute I got off the plane I ran, hoping I could beat the other passengers to customs. What I hadn't factored into this plan was that our flight coincided with the arrival of at least a dozen other international flights. The line moved slowly along, while the minutes on the clock screamed by. My turn finally came, and I was on the run again. I grabbed my backpack from the luggage carousel and quickly headed to the point where I needed to check it in for the connecting flight (I had to walk this portion due to the fact I was carrying about 35 pounds on my back). Once I handed off my backpack I sprinted the length of the airport to the far end where my plane was. This would have been challenging enough empty handed, but I had a carry on bag and a day pack with me.

I arrived at the gate, out of breath but hopeful. Everyone had boarded, but the plane was still there. The Air Canada lady saw me, opened the door, and waved me through. I reached into the side pocket of my pants to grab my boarding pass and was horrified to find it wasn't there. It must have fallen out when I was running. The lady said never mind, just go. As I was standing on the tarmac in front of the plane she called out to me, asking if I was someone I wasn't. Stupidly I said that no, I was not that person. I figured my name would be the next one she would call off her list. Big mistake. She told me I would have to go back inside.

I remained standing by my plane, saying I had a seat on it and could she please have them open the door. She refused. It turns out that Air Canada had already bumped me off that flight while I was airborne, having determined there was no way I could make my connection. I argued with her, pointing out that I had made it, that the plane was sitting right outside the door, and it had room for me. She answered by waving the plane on. Without me.

To say I was mad would be the observational equivalent of the captain of the Titanic announcing they would just be stopping off the coast of Newfoundland for a bit. I was given a $10 meal voucher and allowed to make a phone call home to say I would be on the 7:00 flight instead of the 2:00 one. When Jay answered the phone I told him what had happened and how mad I was. Jay responded by saying, "Well, since you are already angry I might as well tell you this now so you can get all your anger out at once."

Before I continue I have a wee bit of advice for husbands around the world: Not A Good Plan.

It turns out that David has temporarily moved back home. Please don't misunderstand. I love my kids. But there comes a time when having them live in your basement has lost its charm. I should have been suspicious when I saw the Facebook message from David saying he had bought me a present. The present turned out to be a box of Purdy's chocolates. When he gave them to me Saturday night I accused him of trying to bribe me, and he assured me that they were the chocolates he had promised me when I agreed to do the TV interview last spring. The fact that he couldn't say this with a straight face said it all.

It has been an amazing adventure, but I have to admit I am happy to be home. The fall colours in our neighbourhood are at their peak, I have a big batch of pizza sauce made with the last of my garden tomatoes simmering on the stove, and I was able to spend Canadian Thanksgiving with my family. And did I mention the chocolates were salted caramels?


  1. Well I'm glad you're home safe, and salted caramels have to be a pretty good bribe, they'd work on me, that's for sure!

    Thank you for the get well wishes x

  2. So they had an empty seat, but wouldn't let you use it??? That's crazy--and maddening! I understand your feelings completely.

    However, about the husband thing...I thought Jay did the right thing, especially from the hubby's perspective. That way, you're over it by the time you two are in the same room.

    So sorry about the geyser. Does wet knitting mean no knitting?

  3. I've so enjoyed the vicarious vacation! Thank you so much for keeping us updated!

  4. There is nothing like a little drama 2 help us be glad we are "Home Sweet Home"!


  5. @Annie - I have to admit I weakened a bit when I saw they were salted caramels. :-)

    @Ric - I am curious as to whether your wife agrees with you or with me. ??
    I didn't end up knitting, but it was because I was too tired, not because the knitting was wet. The worst thing was the wet pants. I always find it cold on planes, and this didn't help!

    @Tana - Thanks for following along on my adventure. Glad you enjoyed it!

    @Kath - Ha! I guess we both had our drama on our return flights. Better then than during the trip though!

  6. I considered asking my wife, but this time I'm going to take a pass. I might need to aggravate her some other way soon and I don't want to use up my goodwill.

  7. Glad you made it home safe, if a bit late. I just sat down to catch up on all your posts about your trip while I had my morning coffee and it made for a great start to the day. Beautiful pictures! And now I wan to do a walking tour of Scotland myself some day - I've lost shoes in the mud before, so I think I'd do alright.