Monday, July 9, 2012

Post Traumatic Travel Disorder

My trip to BC came to an end on Friday and I arrived back to PEI on Saturday morning (after several hiccups, which will be explained in a minute). My last couple days there were the only ones that had any sunshine so I enjoyed that part immensely. Unfortunately a large part of my last day there was spent doing an emergency visit to the vet after Splash sliced open her foot when we were playing down by the river. Poor Splish Splash. Even though she's all bandaged up and stuck not being able to play or go for any long walks, she's doing just fine.

Since I am moving back to BC at the mid/end of August, people are asking if my last time traveling to PEI was a bittersweet experience. And my answer is simple: NOPE! Apart from one disastrous trip trying to get home for Christmas a few years back, this was one of the bumpiest trips I have taken. The flight from Castlegar to Calgary would have been alright apart from the moderate turbulence and for some reason, my minor panic attack. Panic attack is an overstatement for how I felt, but for some reason I was really nervous on that flight and I had the fast beating heart, sweaty palms and just couldn't concentrate on anything except the notion that we were going to crash into the mountains below. Obviously we made it safely and I still have no idea why I felt like that throughout the flight.

I had an hour to kill in sunny Calgary while waiting for flight #2 to Toronto. Oh wait, did I say sunny? There's a famous saying in Calgary - "If you don't like the weather, wait 15 minutes." We landed in clear skies and sunshine. In the hour I was to wait for the next plane, the skies became black and we had a fairly major storm. Unfortunately this storm meant that no planes could go anywhere until at least the lightning stopped. Arrg. Three hours later the skies cleared up and we were finally able to board the plane. The first thing I noticed on the flight was the heat. Holy God it was hot in that plane! Then the heat started to mingle in an unfortunate way with the heavy cologne of the man beside me. Gross. His family was sitting behind us so he was constantly spinning around to check up on them and his neck would swing in my direction leaving me in a cloud of gag-worthy scent. I tried to blow "fresh" air in my face with the personal overhead fan thingy above our seats but all it did was blow hot air in my face. After a good 30 minutes of sitting in that smelly hot-box, the pilot decided to fill us in on what was going on. We weren't moving yet because an engine was broken and the part that cools the interior of the cabin wasn't working, so it was going to take longer to take off while the engine got started up by another machine. My visual of this was something similar to jumping a dead battery in a car.

Then finally semi-cool air came out of the overhead fan thingy and the engines started up. Apart from the overly warm cabin of the plane (the AC never came back so it remained really really warm), the smelly dude sitting beside me, the screaming 2 year old in front of me and the 2nd screaming baby 2 rows behind me, the 3-hour flight was alright! I watched "Rain Man" which I have actually never seen before and enjoyed very much.

Tip of the Day: The "Contemporary" movie option on Air Canada flights for passengers always has really good movies to choose from.

The hotel I stayed at in Toronto. The Moxie's restaurant here
had the coldest draft beer I have ever had!
After a good amount more turbulence, we landed in Toronto airport and nearly everyone making a connecting flight missed their connection. I headed to customer service to sort out my game plan and the agent told me that I was re-scheduled for a plane heading to Halifax (boarding at that moment actually) where it would land at 1:30am, Air Canada would put me in a hotel for the night in Halifax then I'd get on a flight to Charlottetown at 7am. Huh? By the time I got my luggage, go to the hotel, slept, and got back in time to reach my flight, I'd have about a grand total of what...2 hours in the hotel? Not happening. So I asked if I could be put up in Toronto for the night instead and take a flight out to Charlottetown in the morning. She said I could and took me out of the Halifax flight and onto one at 9am out of Toronto.

And then it happened. My luggage was officially lost at this point. Switching the Halifax and Toronto flights messed everything up. Air Canada of course doesn't want to come out and say, "Ma'am, we have no idea where your suitcase is," when I know that is what they thought every time they looked utterly confused while trying to track it down in their system. I stood in line at customer service for an hour, tapping my toes while the lady there tried to find where my luggage was sent to. Her manager finally told me to just go to the hotel and we'll deal with in the morning. So I went to the hotel where I got actually a super nice room and delicious meal. No clean underwear though. Nothing but the clothes on my back and the few odds and ends in my backpack. Horray! I did get to drink in the hotel's car with a large group of travelers who were also stuck in Toronto for the night due to their own issues with their flights. Misery loves company right!

I got about 4 hours sleep which wasn't bad considering. I got to the airport around 7am and went to the baggage area (where I was instructed to go by the lady the night before) in hopes of tracking down my suitcase. I told the guy my story, gave him my luggage tag and he took at look in the system. He got that same highly confused look on his face and after about 10 minutes told me to take my luggage tag and have the people at Check-ins to forward my luggage to Charlottetown. He said that the suitcase is likely somewhere between Toronto and Charlottetown and at one point they'll have to scan it and see where it's meant to be. This gave me about zero confidence about their system.

My flight back to Charlottetown was the most pleasant out of all three and I arrived just after noon on Saturday. I got a call on Sunday morning saying that they located my luggage but had to wait for confirmation before having it shipped. What does that even mean? Either way, my luggage arrived Sunday night. From where?? They never told me. But it made it and that's all that matters.

I started to calculate what it would cost to replace everything in that one suitcase. I had actually very little coming back to PEI with me and even so, it still would have added up quickly. I mean think about it! Bras alone (plus sports bras) would have set me back a good $250 at least. Crazy!

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