Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Flying in the North

The last thing you want after a very long week, is to hear that your flight's been delayed or cancelled. So we were pretty happy when our last day in Iqaluit looked pretty clear and our flight was scheduled to leave on time. Jeff, being miles away in Winnipeg, also had a clear go-ahead for his flight home and it looked like everything was going to work out for us to be home in time to have dinner together. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that everything is going to go as planned - as we both soon found out!

Before I left Iqaluit, I got an email from Jeff that his flight was delayed by a couple of hours for mechanical reasons, so we probably wouldn't run into each other in Rankin Inlet. I figured since my flight was on time, I'd just see him at home later on that night. No big deal.

Since there's no security check point in Iqaluit, we checked our baggage and got our boarding passes earlier in the day, so we just needed to show up at the airport and wait around to get on the plane. It certainly saved a lot of time! We flew on the jet out of Iqaluit on our way to Rankin and it was only about 30% full, so there was lots of leg room. It was a great flight - we had a great hot meal (choice of salmon or pork), and of course the wine was flowing. After dinner, we also had a coffee service and they served us a mixed coffee (with Bailey's, Kahlua and Grand Marnier mixed in) topped with whipped cream! I didn't care for the Grand Marnier taste in my coffee, but the service was a great touch. Here's my salmon meal - surprisingly delicious!
When we landed in Rankin Inlet, we weren't told anything out of the ordinary, so we just got off the plane and figured we were waiting about a half hour for our connecting flight. We all dispersed to stretch our legs a bit, until I was pulled towards another ticket counter for Calm Air because our connecting flight was cancelled and they failed to mention it on the plane/when we got to the airport. Picture 9 of us trying to buy tickets out on the next flight for Baker Lake as other people were also trying to do the same thing. It was chaotic to say the least.

We all finally got our tickets - one person told us the flight was at 7:30 and another person told us our flight was 9:30 - we were waiting for the flight from Winnipeg that was delayed....which turns out to be the flight that Jeff was on. Guess we were meeting up in Rankin after all!

After a lot of miscommunication and a lot more waiting, the Winnipeg flight finally landed around 9. I met Jeff at the gate, to his surprise, and said we were all going home on the same flight (they had to wait for that plane to land in order for us to be transferred onto a smaller plane to take us to Baker Lake). There was a slight moment of panic that we weren't going home that night and we'd be pushed to the morning, but they made the decision to leave and we were on the runway a bit before 10. An uneventful 40 minutes later, we landed at a very snowy (remember, when we left a week earlier it was clear and snow-free!) Baker Lake, with beautiful Northern Lights lighting up the skies. I'd never been so happy to be home - hours after we were supposed to be, but home nonetheless!

Moral of the story: when you're flying in the North, no matter what - you check in with the counter of every connecting airport you're at and you check on your flight the minute you step off the plane. That's one lesson I won't soon forget!

-L

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