I don’t know why, and I can’t tell you when, but flying has become nothing more than an indescribable nightmare. I am very glad that I am not flying Ryan Air or any of the other low cost European budget airlines because I think that would turn me off the joys of air travel forever.
The fun started upon arrival at Halifax airport when I couldn’t get my reservation to come up on the “self serve” kiosk. I had tried checking in before leaving Springhill, but I had trouble with it. After a bit of searching online, I didn’t worry about it – after all, I had a seat number and had been receiving reminder e-mails about my flights. This proved to be the wrong attitude to take as I was told by the woman working at the Westjet desk that I wasn’t on the flight and she wasn’t sure if she would be able to get me on it. After many stressful minutes I was told by the attendant that I would be on the flight. Great news, right? Well – she tried to charge me for bags and then became annoyed with me when I refused to pay (my itinerary showed one free checked bag for all legs of my flight). I mentioned that I would file a complaint with the airline, if necessary, at which point she told me, quite bluntly, that if I complained I wouldn’t be able to fly and that they would probably cancel all of my flights… um… could someone please remind me why people rave about Westjet? Because no other airline has ever told me that I would be denied boarding because of a complaint. No other airline has lost my reservation in their computer system and then acted as if they were moving mountains to correct their mistake.
Onboard the plane, I was in the very last row, seated beside a family with boisterous children and behind a large, slightly smelly service dog. The youngest, who was apparently 16 months, screamed and cried for a solid 30 minutes after take off. While the baby was screaming, the flight was quite turbulent – bouncing and shaking as it cut through the air – and suddenly, the French safety instructions started to play again. I was convinced that the end was near because there was no way things could get worse
I would have given anything for the flight to be over. Then the pilot came on and gave us the magic words – we were beginning our descent into Toronto. Unfortunately, he also gave us the wrong local time and after the numerous delays we had getting off the ground, I was completely confused me and a bit anxious when I thought I had less than 30 minutes to make my connection to London. Our plane slowly came in over Lake Ontario, the children climbing all over their parents (I was collateral damage, being hit by errant hands or feet), as I watched the clock tick down and wondered just how I would make a travel insurance claim to my credit card from Europe.
The wheels hit the ground, the pilot welcomed us to Toronto… and gave us the correct local time. Phew, crisis over – I just had to get off the plane and try to regain my sanity for a few minutes.
My parents called me just as I stepped into the terminal and let me know that they had just received a letter from CIBC informing me that my credit card would expire on June 16th. I didn’t have a lot of time until my connection, so I fired off a couple of tweets to TD Canada and CIBC and then waited on the phone to speak with a representative at TD. I had contacted both banks in March to confirm the details of the transition from my CIBC Aerogold to the TD Aerogold and was promised that it wouldn’t happen until mid-summer (I would like to point out that June 16th is still technically spring) and that my CIBC card wouldn’t expire until I had activated my card. The letter which had arrived to my parents’ house threw that idea to the wolves. My credit card is my backup plan for Europe – one debit card and one credit card is all that I’ve ever really needed for travelling. TD said they could send me the card to Europe but that I would need to find an address where I would be for an extended amount of time and have someone sign for it. They also couldn’t give me any indication when it would be delivered or mailed out. I tried to ask TD what I should do, but the call was disconnected and they were preparing to board.
Twitter helped out a bit as TD messaged me back and told me to contact CIBC directly. CIBC, unfortunately, has been radio silent on the social media front.
I did all of the right things with respect to my flight and the credit card, but obviously even the best laid plans can go awry.
British Airways was perfectly civilized despite the fact that I lost my aisle seat and ended up with a window (my hatred for window seats is only surpassed by my hatred for middle seats). I longingly passed the seats in business class, and even premium economy, before settling into my slightly cramped (but not as bad as Westjet) seat. The flight was absolutely packed and I was surprised to see that it was an older 747-400 versus the new Dreamliner which had been scheduled for the route. I had a drink before dinner, wine with my meal and watched two recent movies. Anchorman 2, which was fairly awful, and The Wolf of Wall Street which was sorely in need of an editor. There is no reason that movie needed to be three hours long.
I haven’t flown into Heathrow since… oh… 1995? Possibly 1996? We circled above London, the pilot dipping the wings of the massive 747 as we waited for clearance to land and I fought to keep supper down. Arriving at Terminal 5, I was surprised to be shuffled through several security checkpoints before reaching my connecting gate. The lines were fairly massive and they were very focused on liquids and gels, checking multiple times that they were secured in appropriately sized bags. My boarding pass was checked, my liquids and gels were checked twice and then we were sent up an escalator and into a massive hall to go through security once again. Belts off, laptops out, liquids and gels on top…
My last flight was smooth and uneventful but I had prepared by taking a Gravol. That, mixed with my lack of sleep, meant I was too tired to really notice anything. This was the only flight where everything went right – I had my aisle seat, there was a snack (a croissant with bacon and tomato, which I saved for later) and the flight attendant even procured a miniature can of ginger ale for me. No circling was required this time – we touched down in Munich, the plane unloaded, the signage was clear and there was no line up for immigration – plus our encounter was amusingly short.
Immigration: “How long are you here?”
Me: “77 days.”
Him: “Why are you here?”
Him: “Well, then why not. Have fun!”
Well, that was easy. And pleasant. And efficient. Welcome to Germany!