Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Careful What You Wish For


Apologies that this post is a day late, but our modem broke on Friday evening and we just got internet back up and running today.  After many promises, we want to finally talk about our trip up from Ontario to Nunavut, and how you really should be careful about what you wish for.

The last few days at home were a whirlwind of tears and goodbyes, a frantic all-night packing of our carry-on luggage and checked bags, and an emotional drop-off at the airport. All of that we anticipated and were bracing ourselves for. What we didn't plan on was the airport stresses of dealing with our incredibly large and heavy luggage, long lines and flight delays/cancellations.

It started off with us having to go through the process of paying for overage fees on our luggage for Air Canada. I had assumed that since it was technically a First Air flight, as per our booking, we could go by the First Air baggage restrictions even though we were being routed through an Air Canada flight first from Toronto to Winnipeg. Apparently, that was wrong of me and both airlines have very different cut-off points for luggage. After not sleeping all night, and an emotionally-charged morning, the last thing we wanted to do was fight with the lady at the counter so we paid the charges, went through security and made it to our gate just as they were starting to board the plane. We got settled in our seats (yay, extra leg room on the exit row!) and I lamented to Jeff that I wish we were on a plane to go away on a vacation, since we probably won't have the opportunity for a while. A gentle pat on my hand, and he promised that we would get away "even for a night" sometime soon...if only we had known what kind of foreshadowing was occurring at that very moment!! The flight from Toronto to Winnipeg was uneventful and I made the mistake of watching Contagion. I wanted to bathe in hand sanitizer afterwards, and if anyone coughed or sneezed I gave them the death stare. Not the best choice when you're already stressed!

Our flight landed in Winnipeg at 10 and our flight to Rankin Inlet was scheduled to leave at 10:30, so theoretically we were walking off one plane and onto another. However, when we got there, the board said that it was delayed until 11:15 so we took the time to grab a snack and charge the iPad/take full advantage of the free wi-fi in the airport to tweet our whereabouts. At 11:15, we were still waiting for the boarding announcement, and noticed that the board now said we were delayed until 12. Then 12:30, then finally, 1:15. At 1:15, they finally announced that the flight was cancelled due to "mechanical issues." By then, Jeff had passed out on a makeshift "bed" surrounded by our carry-ons and I had to wake him up to go claim our bags from the carousel. 
The airline said that the earliest they could get us to Baker Lake would be 6pm on the Wednesday flight (it was Monday) and I just about cried. I called my company, explained what was going on, and they told us to go grab a coffee and they'd call us back. By the time they did, they had set us up in the Sheraton across the street and booked us on completely different flights on a different airline so we could leave Tuesday morning. We were told to enjoy an evening in Winnipeg and that everything would be taken care of.

As we lugged our bags off the carousel, onto the dollies and into the shuttle to go to the hotel, I had to laugh. I guess you really do have to be careful what you wish for because we got our night away. I have stayed in the Sheraton by the Winnipeg Airport on a number of occasions and it has always been my favourite place to stay because the bed is the most comfortable bed I have ever slept on in my life. So I was pretty excited that after an exhausting morning and no sleep the night before, this bed was in my very near future. Jeff took a little more convincing that this was a good thing and we should enjoy the opportunity while it was presented to us - but when he lay on the bed for the first time, he was finally convinced that it was fate giving us a little break.  He was much happier after we finally ate a proper meal, got rid of our bags and had the promise of a comfortable bed. We were too exhausted to go out and explore, so we had a delicious dinner at the hotel restaurant and went right to bed right after, and both fell into a much-needed sleep for the rest of the night.
The rest of the trip wasn't nearly as eventful. We checked in with Calm Air the next morning, and again had to pay overage fees on the baggage because they had different restrictions than First Air, and Jeff's (and mine) favourite cologne met its untimely end when it fell out of one of the bags right in the middle of the check-in area, but we eventually made it through and had a quick breakfast before going to our gate. From there, we were actually on the same flight as my Director, and ended up chatting with her until we boarded and headed to Rankin Inlet (we left 30 degrees in Winnipeg to go to Rankin and it was 9) and eventually onto Baker Lake.

We had complained before about how the first time we flew up it was such a long day (12.5 or so hours of travel time) but this was a shorter itinerary that turned into 3 times as long! Apparently it's pretty common on either airline to be late - maybe not as delayed as we were, but it's certainly a rare occasion to be on time! Just a heads up for everyone who's scrambling to come visit! ;)

-L

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