So, after my flight was canceled on Saturday afternoon, I finally made it back at 1:30 Wednesday afternoon. Not an experience I would have chosen, but still overall rather fun, (in the same way that the philosophy exam was fun. : )

I spent 24 hours on standby in Toronto, which was interesting in many senses. RM lives on the outskirts of town, and she marvelously drove out to pick me up, and gave me a bed for the night. Her family has an excellent house, all wood-paneling and rooms in exactly the right place. Moreover, the time I spent in the airport was not particularly stressful. I was number 126 on the standby list to st. john’s, and there were people who had been on the list for three days. That sounds like it should inspire stress, but instead I was able to tell myself that I actually had nothing whatsoever to complain about. When I’ve been stuck in an airport for three nights, and now told I’ll be kicked out by security this evening, with no one to call and every hotel full; Then I’ll get peeved. In addition, I saw some really interesting types of people, including a man who let me go ahead of him in the line to get a confirmed seat (more valuable than diamonds at this point, and considerably rarer.) He didn’t get a confirmation, while I did, and he had been stuck there for four days. Thankfully, this gentleman got a standby seat on the same flight I was confirmed on. He was only about 25, and the last one on the list of 126 to make it out of the airport.

Then when I got to St. john’s I was met by two gems of people who met me at 2:30am, waited for me while I stood by the baggage carousal for an hour, and drove me to their home. Then they got me up in the morning, made me breakfast, and went to work. To recap, that is 2 hours of sleep, undertaken for a girl whom they barely know. The salt of the earth, these people.

I have learned from this venture:
-To not fly Air Canada, if I can possibly help it. (They didn’t even provide bottles of water for the stranded passengers, while Westjet was putting their customers up in hotels with money for food. )
-I am blessed in my friends
-I am blessed in my family’s friends
-I am oddly able to stay happy during a crisis, provided that I can do SOMETHING.
-Travel is very interesting, not predictable, but fascinating!
-There are still gentlemen within my demographic.
-God will provide. (This whole year is an extended example of this lesson.)
-It’s good to be home.

Winter weather and airlines

Yes, directly after I wrote that post last night, I found that my flight had been canceled. Interestingly, I did not find this out from the airline. Instead, Star heard on CBC that there was a weather warning out for effectively everything east of Manitoba, and checked her flight. Then she msned me. Then I looked online, and picked up the phone. Five hours later, and many alternate itineraries, I have a confirmed alternate route.

You see, when I first called, they were just going to put me on an alternate flight to Toronto, and then I would catch my original flight from there. Then it transpired that nothing out of Ottawa was moving before 3 PM. As my flight was at noon, there seemed to be an issue with the former plan.

Next plan involved calling Via Rail. I told them what flight I had been on, and they said,” yes, there isn’t a problem with that, we can replace that flight.” Great! That wasn’t so hard, says I to myself. Then the man continues, “… you’ll have a connection through Montreal, and then change to Acadian Bus Lines in Truro. That’ll take you as far as North Sydney.” Hmmmm. North Sydney. On Monday night. With no money for the Ferry. With a weather warning in effect. With no one in town I know. Let’s try this again, shall we?

“Should I book it?” Asks the man. At this point, I have spent close to 2 hours on the phone, but my sanity is still partially intact. I ask if the ferry cost is covered. The man answers that he doesn’t know. [mental image of spending Christmas in the Marine Atlantic Ferry Terminal] I should say, that throughout this whole evening there was a strong sense of “you’d better fend for your self, cause we sure ain’t finding an alternate route for you.” Anyways, *coughs* I next performed brilliant mental acrobatics, and thought of Toronto. They’re always flying out of there, right? If I get there, I can catch the NEXT flight home. At this point, my memory is a little foggy. I don’t remember if I called Air Canada to found out if they were still flying out of Toronto, or if I booked the train then, but I booked a train ride, from Ottawa to Toronto, on Sunday. Now for the flight from Toronto.

I call Air Canada. Just as an aside, doesn’t it strike joy in your heart to be greeted with “due to exceptionally high call volume, all our agents are busy right now.” Particularly when you know that the three main airports for eastern Canada (Toronto, Montreal, Halifax) are effectively shut down right now, during the Christmas rush. After 45 minutes on hold, I finally talk to a person. I have been put in a borderline hypnotic state by the phone at this time, but I mange to give my spiel. “hi, my name is ___, I was on flight 8833 from Ottawa to St. John’s, I called before and they told me to call Via Rail. I reserved a seat from Ottawa to Toronto, but my flight would leave at noon and the train gets into Toronto at 12:45. Can I take the next flight?”*inhale* The man, probably very used to dealing with hysterical travelers at this point, says he’ll see what he can do.

Every flight out of Toronto going east is booked for Sunday. Let’s look at Monday: full. I say something inane about being willing to connect through the states. This guys says calmly that they wouldn’t do that. Side note: when I called before, the news that I was traveling from Ottawa to St. John’s was greeted with an “Oh Gawd!” *bottom drops out of the stomach*. However, this man seems to find it not inconceivable that I could actually get home within the next three days. He says that there is one seat. I go, “oh?!” The last seat, on the last flight before Tuesday evening. It’s a direct flight for me, starting in Calgary, stopping to refuel in Ottawa. The seat is in Executive class. The guys tells me that I’ll be probably bumped down to Economy, but I hold a shining hope in my mind.

I’ll be getting into St. John’s 12 hours later than expected, I guess I should call home and tell my family. I call, and it transpires that they have to be in another town for a Chemo treatment at that time. Hmmm, perhaps booking myself into a town 1000 km round trip away from home wasn’t the best idea. Better call Air Canada again.

50 minutes later…. I have a booked connection from St. John’s to an airport only an hour away from home. I call home with the news. However, they seem to think I won’t like the 36 hour layover in St. John’s. Right, oh. Maybe I could sightsee? No.

Time to call Air Canada Again. I’m only on hold for about half an hour this time, I guess things are being ironed out. I cancel that connection. I try to add it on to the other end of my round trip flight, but they’re having none of that. Finally, I have a route fixed. I’ll fly to St. john’s and be met by a friend, who will put me on the bus in the early morning.

Over all, this hasn’t been too stressful, though I certainly wasn’t operating at 100% by the end of the evening. Hands shaking, sore ears, crick in the neck, inability to find the correct words at any given time; normal, really. : ) This has given me a healthy mistrust of airlines, I think. Last time I flew solo, a delayed flight caused me to miss my connection, and they lost my luggage. So now I entirely expect things to not go according to plan. Bad thought: I’ve had a missed flight, and a weather cancellation, what’s left for my return flight? A terrorist scare?

Oh well, I’ll face then when or if it happens. Now I’m going home! Ya!

Life is good

I’ve been in a happy mood today. A day to walk around with a lilt on my step and my head high. I’ve been struck again by the way that God continues to provide. I started this year with almost no money and no prospects of income. Now, four months later, I have not only not gone hungry, I have actually managed to gain a little weight, (a triumph on more than one level!) I’ve gone Christmas shopping, and generally not felt want. This has generally been a really good term. I’ve learned like you wouldn’t believe. I’ve seen new places and things. I’ve made friends.

And even problems aren’t going to change this fact. I write that because my flight home has just been canceled. I’m now taking the train to Toronto. Cool!