We have been lucky to date that none of our trips have meant that we needed to stay overnight in town. Yes, we have been delayed (once by 6 hours...which, in an airport that is the size of a small school gymnasium feels like a LONG time), but we have always managed to get out the same day we flew in. Until this time.
Our flight left Winnipeg shortly after 4pm and we arrived in Rankin around 7pm. It was supposed to be earlier so we could catch the 6:40 flight to Baker, but we had to make a fuel stop in Churchill. Why they did not get fuel when we were in Winnipeg I have no idea. (Grr.) Pepper's sedatives were not working well on this leg of the trip, so we were anxious to get home sooner rather than later! We got off the plane and immediately went to the counter (a good rule to follow every time you arrive in Rankin) to ask if our flight was still waiting for us. Turns out our plane went "mechanical" in Arviat and wasn't coming in tonight, so they were scrambling to find hotel space for all the stranded passengers. 2 things I didn't like about that: 1. We were staying overnight in Rankin and 2. There may not be hotels for everyone? I asked if we could switch to the other airline who had a flight to Baker, but we had just missed it by 15 minutes (oh look, if we didn't stop for fuel, we could have made that flight!)
This was not boding well for my mood.
Finally, they found enough rooms for everyone and gave us vouchers for cab rides to/from the airport, the hotel room, dinner and breakfast the next day. Luckily, we didn't have to share a room since there were 2 of us - but just something else to note - hotels in the north don't necessarily rent you the room when they are charging you the hundreds of dollars. They are renting you the bed. So it is not all that uncommon when situations like these occur and you will have to double up with a stranger if there are not enough rooms available. I have never been happier to be traveling with my husband before!
Eventually we all (there were probably a dozen people or so) get to the Siniktarvik (aka the "Stinky Carpet" as dubbed by everyone) and checked in. Now, we're all starving since the majority of us hadn't eaten since early afternoon and ask where the restaurant is so we could use our dinner voucher.
"Oh, the restaurant closed at 7:30." Surely you will open it for all of us since it is just 7:40!?
"No, sorry. You will have to find somewhere else." What is open in town right now?
"Nothing, everything is closed." Then what are we supposed to eat?
"There's a vending machine over there..." Ok,..can you change this $35 voucher into coins for the vending machine?
"No, the voucher can only be used in the dining room. But you can combine it with the breakfast one tomorrow."
At this point, we just gave up and went to bed. Thankfully all our bags were with us so Pepper had dinner that night and I always have portable snacks (granola bars, nuts, etc.) in my bag, so we didn't starve. The next day we had breakfast and called to confirm that our flight was still leaving at 12, and were told all systems were ready to go. Until we got to the airport and were delayed twice more...argh! When we finally landed in Baker later that afternoon, everyone on the plane clapped. It was so good to be done with travel for a while!
So what are some takeaways from this?
1. Always pack your most essential items in your carry-ons in case your bags don't make it with you. (Good travel tip regardless of where you are going.)
2. Pack some food with you in case you are stuck and nothing is open for you to get food.
3. Always check in at the counter when you arrive at any of the airports as you fly through.
Guess it could have been worse - we could have had to stay at the airport all night or shared a room with a stranger. Or, we could have been delayed by weather, at which point all the costs associated with having to stay over would not have been covered by the airlines!
Oh, and I took this lovely picture of my handsome husband while we were out for some fresh air before our flight.
There's always a silver lining!