Sunday, May 9, 2010

May 8, 2010: The Long Trip Home

Today I was scheduled to fly back early, and I thought I had given myself enough time to get ready, but as usual I underestimated the amount of time it would take me to eat my massive bowl of granola for breakfast. Consequently I was forced to take a cab to the airport, rather than the much cheaper Express bus. I made it though, and that's what counts. And so, thinking I was clear of any problems, I started to relax, but I should have known that flying for me is never that easy.

I boarded the tiny Embraer EMB 145 (Brazilian aircraft) without difficulty, but before it could finish its taxi to the runway the pilot shut the plane down, because some other plane had leaked fuel all over the runway and it had to be cleaned up before we could leave. As we waited I could see a string of large jumbo jets lining up behind us waiting to leave as well, and it felt like they were saying, "get out of the way with your puny, insignificant aircraft, and let the real jets do some 'big boy' work." Eventually we were off and underway though, and we made it to Heathrow with plenty of time to spare (for me anyways).

It's a good thing I had some extra time, because London's Heathrow is one of the largest and busiest International airports in the world. So not only did I need to find the proper gate, but I also had to find the proper terminal as well. Pair this with the security check-in staff who seemed to all decide to go for tea at the same time all the passengers showed up, and by the time I had cleared security and gotten to the lobby, I had to remind myself to take many "deep breaths" (they wouldn't like me when I'm angry).

Like a good traveller I made it to my gate to board with plenty of time to spare, and despite the recent new volcano eruptions from Iceland, it looked as though my flight would leave on time. However, just as we were about to board, we were informed that all flights heading west over the Atlantic had been rerouted over Eastern Europe, and because of this there would be massive traffic jams and delays.

We boarded early at the Captain's request, and then were told that there would be a three-and-a-half hour delay. Thankfully, the attendants put the in flight entertainment on, and after I had finished watching every National Film Board of Canada feature offered, we were informed that the Captain had received an earlier time slot from the British authorities, and we were allowed to fly after only a 1.5 hour delay.

During the flight the TVs stopped working for about an hour, and the two children behind me lost their ability to not annoy everyone in the plane. Between the screaming and the fighting, and the near constant tantrums that involved kicking the back of my seat, it was the worst hour of flying ever. But soon someone working under the plane to make things better, managed to fix the problem, and then I only had to worry about the kicking... and the bad movies.

Because of all the delays, it meant that the estimated arrival time for my flight to Calgary would be after the departure time for my next flight to Grande Prairie. Air Canada thoughtfully re-booked my flight so that I would fly to Edmonton at 10:55 PM, and then stay there over night before flying home the next morning. However, regular readers might remember that I have been reading Around The World In 80 Days by Jules Verne, and just as Phileas Fogg would not be daunted in his quest to reach a deadline, I too felt I should be "daring" and re-re-booked my flight to Edmonton for even earlier, and then rode the Greyhound over night to arrive in Grande Prairie the next morning at 5:30 PM. Not having any cash on me though, I couldn't call for a ride or take a cab, so I put my jet lagged legs to the test and walked home. It took me 75 minutes, but it proved... well I'm not sure what it proved, but it saved at least $10.

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