Can you believe it, I have been 29 for seven whole years! Today is my 29th birthday, yet again.
And let me just tell you that getting home in time for this monumental event was no easy task. Wanna know why? Here are my recent travel woes, in all their excrutiating detail. Because once I realized a potential blog post was in the making, I whipped out my trusty pencil and notebook and began chronicling the events as they unfolded.
Tuesday, November 7
1:00 p.m.: I arrived early at the airport, like a good little international traveler, for my scheduled 3:15 p.m. departure. I was advised that the incoming flight was delayed, but they would deplane quickly and chances were good that we’d still leave on time.
3:15 p.m.: My flight is CANCELLED due to a mechanical problem on the arriving plane. Followed by a mad dash to the ticket counter for rebooking. The only problem is, this is the booming metropolis of Saskatoon, hardly a major airline hub. This was the last scheduled flight of the day for this tiny regional airport. I’m unexpectedly stuck here for another night. In what will turn out to be the only piece of good news for the next 24 hours, the first leg of my rebooked flight tomorrow morning has been upgraded to first class.
4:30 p.m.: The hospitable staff at the Radisson Saskatoon are quite delighted to welcome me back again so soon.
Wednesday, November 8
4:30 a.m.: Early wake-up call for a 7:00 a.m. flight. A very nice bonus of my extra night in Canada is that upon checking out, I discover that it is snowing outside—a beautiful and rare sight for this Floridian. But I should have known the snow would mean trouble. I should have known.
7:05 a.m.: We pull away from the gate, and all looks good. Except for the ice. The plane must be de-iced before we can take off, because, hey, this is Canada, where it’s cold.
7:40 a.m.: De-icing is finally completed. Just in time for someone in charge to decide the snow is coming down too hard to keep the runway clear, and our plane is too heavy to take off in such slippery conditions. By about 10,000 pounds. According to the pilot, it’s a toss-up as to whether we’ll wait for the weather to clear or return to the gate and kick a few people and their belongings off so we’re light enough to take off. Great. Either way, there’s no way I’m making that connection to Orlando now. All I can say is, they better not kick off any of the people who had already been rebooked from yesterday! We sit around for a while as they decide what to do.
8:25 a.m.: After a couple of parking attempts in which the pilot cannot see the indicators marked on the ground because of the several inches of snow that have already accumulated, we make it back to the gate. The flight crew decides to deplane all those with only carry on luggage, and no checked bags. Rats. That’s me.
8:40 a.m.: As luck would have it, there is another plane available to take those of us who were left behind on to our next destination (the same plane cancelled yesterday due to mechanical problems). We’re directed to wait in the jetway, even though the aircraft has not made it to the gate yet. At least the jetway is heated.
9:00 a.m.: The plane arrives, the jetway hatch opens, and with no warning that motion is about to occur, the jetway is extended into position against the plane. It’s probably against every FAA regulation for passengers to be in a moving, open jetway, but I suppose the FAA doesn’t have much jurisdiction in Canada.
9:15 a.m.: After I’m safely ensconced in my new first class seat, I learn that the "mechanical problem" which caused yesterday’s flight to be cancelled was just a corner of an overhead panel in the cabin that had come loose, and only needed a dab of glue. Apparently there was no maintenance crew on duty at the time, not even a guy with a gluestick. On the bright side, I’m reassured that there are no worries about major mechanical failures aboard this particular aircraft.
9:35 a.m.: We’re ready to go, but the other plane, the one from which I was kicked off, the one that still has people on it, gets to leave first. We have to wait our turn for push back and de-icing. Those lucky ducks. Almost makes me wish I had checked some luggage.
10:15 a.m.: De-icing, take two.
10:45 a.m.: Finally airborne, only 19 hours and 30 minutes late.
11:05 a.m.: First class—aaaah, this is the life! So THIS is how the other half lives!
12:30 p.m.: Arrival in Minneapolis, exactly 2 hours and 10 minutes after my connecting flight to Orlando has already departed.
12:45 p.m.: The brilliant minds at Northwest kindly rebooked me on another airline, but geniously on a flight that I had no hope of making, given that I had to go through customs, exit the security area, cross to the ticket counter at the opposite end of the airport, re-check in with the new airline, and clear security again. All in just 25 minutes. Of course when I arrived at the ticket counter I learned that it was too late to check in, but that for only $25 I could guarantee a seat on the next available flight. I’m sure you can guess how I felt about THAT. But do not fear for my financial loss, dear readers. I told my sob story and got that $25 fee waived right away.
12:50 p.m.: I arrive at the screening checkpoint only to learn that my airline (which one? Northwest? American?) has selected me for "additional screening." Huh? I’ve flown quite a lot this year and have never experienced this before, but apparently there was a secret code on my boarding card that identified me as a potential terrorist or something. I guess the Canadians aren’t the only ones who think I’m up to no good. Or maybe the American Airlines ticket agent was punishing me for daring to fight the $25 fee. In any case, the TSA agents pulled me aside, searched all my luggage, and patted me down, then, deciding I’m no threat after all, sent me on my way.
10:40 p.m.: Two more delayed flights later (completing my perfect track record for this very long day), I finally make it to home, sweet, home. Almost 24 hours later than originally scheduled. But still in time for my birthday.
Thursday, November 9
12:00 a.m.: Happy birthday to me. I deserve it!