The travel gods have it in for me. That’s the only way I can make sense of the travel nightmare I have experienced. Join me, won’t you, for a look through my attempt to get back to London.
(all times are listed first as Local Time, then on Alice's Body Time.)
Monday 3rd January, 2005
09:30 (09:30) I wake up to get ready to head back to London. There is laundry to do, there are suitcases to pack, there is lunch to be had.
14:00 (14:00) My ride arrives at the condo. I’m packed, things are looking good. We’re right on schedule. We sit, we chat, we laugh.
14:42 (14:52) Mandy suggests that we get on the road, and I concur. The timing, she is going according to plan. Mandy and Tim take my bags to the car and I lock the door and go and lock the keys in the parents car. I forget to start the dishwasher and leave Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell for the parents. Such is life. I meet Mandy and Tim at their car.
14:50 (14:50) We’re on the road. The plan, she is good.
15:20 (15:20) We arrive at Lester B. Pearson International Airport. Hugs and kisses goodbye are exchanged and I get in the line at the Air Canada International check in desk.
15:22 (15:22) I am approached by an Air Canada representative handing out flyers asking us to volunteer to be bumped from the flight in return for $500 in vouchers. I ask when I’d be flying. She says “maybe tomorrow, more likely Wednesday”. Sorry, I say. I have to be back at work on Wednesday. No can do.
15:40 (15:40) I reach the front of the line. I go to the check in desk and the very friendly check-in man informs me that I have been put on standby, despite the fact that my ticket was purchased three months ago. I ask him what that means exactly. I am informed that it is extremely unlikely that I will be on my booked flight. Air Canada will, however, do their “best” to get me on a flight today. Even, apparently, if it means connecting through Montreal, Halifax or even Vancouver. I point out that Vancouver is in the wrong direction. I think they must be joking.
15:55 (15:55) I normally would spend the time post check-in and pre boarding in the duty free shops or having a refreshing beverage at one of the fancy new Terminal 1 restaurants. But, as I am full of hope that I will get on my flight, I head to the gate so that when they call my name and tell me that I have a seat and it’s in business class I’m around to hear it.
16:15 (16:15) After a ridiculously long trip to gate 521, I take a seat and open my book. I would ask if I have a seat, but there is no one at the gate. This does not seem to deter a small but determined band of travellers, however, who have gathered in front of the desk.
17:20 (17:20) An Air Canada employee approaches the gate desk some what hesitantly. I understand her concern, as there are about ten very irate travellers hovering in wait for her. Her conversation as she sits down goes something like this: “Let me just get settled here… no I don’t have your information yet … please just let me … can you wait one second … I’ll be right with you”
17:45 (17:45) Hesitant Lady is joined by Assertive Man. He quickly gets on the PA and makes the first of two announcements: “If you are on standby, we will be unable to tell you if you are on the flight until 6:30. If you have any other questions, we will be happy to help you.” And then, about six seconds later, the second of two announcements: “If your question is regarding your standby ticket, we have no information for you. If you are asking about anything else, please come to the desk.” People, however, do not listen and continue to ask questions about their standby tickets. I begin to feel bad for HL and AM.
18:05 (18:05) I hear Assertive Man telling someone who is asking questions about their standby ticket that there are 35 of us in the same situation. This does not sound good.
18:20 (18:20) A few people have been called to the desk. I am not one of them.
18:30 (18:30) The plane begins to board. This is not a good sign.
18:50 (18:50) The plane has finished boarding. I go up to the desk to ask what’s up. As Hesitant Lady is telling me that they’re trying to get the 23 of us who didn’t make it onto the plane on different flights, I am interrupted by Angry Family who begin to rant about the fact that they’ve been repeatedly lied to and life is horrible and Air Canada hates them and blah blah blah. I am annoyed and sit down again.
19:00 (19:00) Angry Family has finally been subdued and they have found five spaces on a flight to Munich. They offer them to the first five people on the list. I am not one of those people. However Irish Girl has to make a connection to Dublin and would rather take her chances on the two later flights which are also overbooked. I am next in line, and head to gate 521 to receive my new boarding pass and my $500 voucher. The official “Air Canada screwed up and now they’re buying you off” voucher.
19:05 (19:05) There is much confusion at gate 521. Pregnant Lady and Scary Lady can’t figure out how to transfer us. Fortunately, I am the first in line and they figure it out for me. Unfortunately, the connecting flight from Munich is at 19:00 the following day. That doesn’t sound fun. But who knows? Maybe a day in the Munich airport will be fab. I am given my $500 voucher and promised a meal voucher in Munich. I have to run as the plane is boarding now.
19:20 (19:20) I board the flight to Munich. At least I’m moving.
19:45 (19:45) The plane takes off. I am treated to a delightful showing of Shark Tale and Sliding Doors. I cannot sleep. I am sitting beside Fat Winking Man and he’s taking up too much arm room. I can’t sleep. I fall asleep and then wake up after approximately ten minutes. I can’t sleep. This flight is long. I read. I can’t sleep.
Tuesday 4th January 2005
09:45 (03:45) We land in Munich. The airport is nice. Fortunately, there is much English spoken as I speak no German. I can’t believe I’m in Germany. This is very surreal.
10:25 (04:25) I convert my money to Euros, and go through Customs. I get a lovely new stamp in my passport. I call work an inform them that I will be taking an additional day off and I am so very tired and don’t anticipate getting any sleep today. This is agreed.
10:40 (04:40) I join the line for check in at Lufthansa. My plane isn’t until 7pm, but I figure I should check in now and then I can sit in the airport and read German magazines and eat German food. What better way to spend the day? Well, I could be at my flat already if I had been on the flight I had booked. But let’s not dwell on that.
10:55 (04:55) I reach the front of the line, and have a briefly confusing conversation about my luggage. We finally come to the conclusion that it is very likely that I will not be seeing my luggage for quite some time. Nice German Lady hands me my boarding card and tells me that I should be at gate H26 at 18:45 and what am I doing on such a late flight? I tell her I have no idea as Pregnant Lady in Toronto arranged it all. She suggests I go to the ticket people and get an earlier flight. I think that Nice German Lady is very smart.
11:10 (05:10) After heading over to the ticket area, the Ticket Lady with Too Much Makeup gets me on a 13:00 flight, which is clearly preferable to my 19:00 flight. She asks me what the ticketing people in Toronto were thinking. I have absolutely no idea. Crazy Crying Woman appears beside me and seems to be asking the ticketing people beside me to do something impossible. I am very intrigued and wish I spoke German so I could eavesdrop.
11:30 (05:30) I go through customs. Again. I visit a lovely little establishment that sells German food and beer. I have a beer and something called “meatloaf” which is just a really large hot dog. It’s odd but comes with potato salad. There are few things which potato salad cannot make better. The beer is a mistake. It makes me very sleepy. Or, I should say, sleepier than I already am.
12:30 (06:30) The plane to London boards. This is very exciting. And, I have an exit aisle seat! How fabulous. Wait, is this really exciting? I seem to have become delirious with exhaustion.
13:30 (07:30) After some kind of a delay, the plane takes off. I can’t sleep. Thankfully German Kid beside me isn’t taking up more than his fair share of armrest space. Is this flight over yet? I can’t sleep.
15:00 (10:00) We arrive into London, and for the first time ever in my travels the non-EU immigration queue is shorter than the EU queue. I get through fairly quickly. I have been awake for over twenty four hours.
15:30 (10:30) With some kind of deranged hope, I head to the baggage claim to look for my bags. As expected, they are not there. I fill out a “Property Irregularity Report” and am told that they’ll call me when they turn up. All my clothes, my makeup, my jewellery, and my toiletry bag are in my luggage. As well as my two cutest pairs of shoes. Damn.
16:00 (11:00) I get on the Heathrow Express. Thank freaking god. I debate the merits of getting the tube from Paddington and then realize I’m kidding myself and that I’m going to take a cab. I am so so tired.
16:15 (11:15) I get a cab to my house. I have never been happier to be home. Until I open the door and realize that I left my flat in a hideous mess. Fortunately the fish are alive. I give them some food and do some dishes. This pushes me to the edge of exhaustion.
17:00 (12:00) I have been awake for almost 28 hours. I lie down with the full intention of just resting my eyes.
Wednesday 5th January 2005
02:00 (Who knows?) I wake up. I am still tired but can’t sleep anymore. I check the status of my baggage. It is still being traced. They suggest I check back later. I check my email. I decide not to respond to them. I am too tired for that foolishness. Fortunately, there is enjoyable television on in the middle of the night. I watch some of it. I finish my dishes and have a shower. I think about tidying. I think about starting to pack for the big more. I decide against either of those things. I watch more television. I think about eating breakfast, but I have no food. I have ramen noodles. They are delicious.
I managed to survive the rest of the day. I have to go back to work tomorrow, then move on the weekend. I am still tired. Jetlag rocks.