Thursday, February 14, 2008

Air Canada anyone?

Well, I'm back from my little adventure.

The flights out on Tuesday went without a hitch and I arrived in Lethbridge right on time, was met at the airport, driven to my hotel and I checked in. Later my hostess sent a cab to pick me up for dinner, where I met Maralee, the women who are helping her with the show as well as several other 'passionate women' who were also being interviewed.

Wednesday morning we woke to a snowstorm. Several people were late coming in to the studio and we heard from one guest as she was driving in from Airdrie that she'd been on the road for four hours (a trip that normally takes two) and was still a good distance away.

The recording session on Wednesday morning went well -- I think, I hope, I pray ... The interview seemed to be over before it even got started.

The lady driving from Airdrie did finally arrive shortly before noon. Then around noon the storm began to peter out. I boarded the prop plane for the half-hour flight from Lethbridge to Calgary in late afternoon sunshine. It was 15 minutes late leaving but I was reassured that my connecting flight to Vancouver was 20 minutes late out of Calgary so I should have no trouble making my connection home to Vancouver Wednesday night.

One little thing bothered me, though. When I picked up my boarding passes in Lethbridge. The Calgary to Vancouver flight had no seat number, but a GTE where the seat number normally is. "You'll get your seat assigned at the desk," the Air Canada agent told me. Not knowing the implications of that, I enjoyed the half-hour flight, peering out the window (every passenger has a window seat as there are only about 20 passengers aboard this prop plane with single seats along both sides) and taking photos of the interesting formations below.

When I got to Calgary I went straight to an Air Canada service desk where a harried agent informed me that my lack of assigned seat on the boarding pass meant that I was on standby.

How could that be, I asked, seeing as how I'd confirmed my flight weeks ago.

They'd canceled several earlier flights due to weather, she told me, and they customarily oversell flights. This day with people showing up for flights and others trying to rebook canceled ones, they hadn't kept enough seats for people whose flights were confirmed. Thus I might be out of luck getting on my flight.

This meant sitting and waiting in the lounge area until the flight was called. And sure enough, the long and short of it was, I never got on, along with quite a few other very unhappy people. I'm sure I don't need to describe the consternation, tension and less than gracious talk this missing of flights caused ("We will NEVER fly Air Canada again." "We've flown all over the world and never had something like this happen to us before," and on and on). The agent who worked the desk amazed me in the way she kept her cool. She did a great job of soothing nerves, as much as they could be soothed, and keeping feathers from getting even more ruffled.

Since the remaining flights out of Calgary were also full and many of the passengers left behind had more pressing needs to nab any standby spots on them than I did, I took Air Canada's offer of a hotel for the night -- this of course after I was rebooked on a flight for this morning and had another boarding pass (this time with assigned seat number - in Executive Class no less) clutched in my hot little hand.

And so it was that when I should have been winging over the Rocky Mountains, I was instead in the back of a Black-Top cab conversing with the Somalian driver as we wound our way into downtown Calgary.

Air Canada treated me well. They provided me with taxi vouchers to and from the airport, a beautiful room on the 22nd floor of the Delta Bow Valley along with vouchers for dinner and breakfast.

And I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed this unexpected detour. After getting a delicious mushroom and artichoke pizza at the Elements Restaurant I went up to my room, plugged my ipod into the dock of the clock radio and fell asleep to all my favorite praise and worship songs. I took this evening in a posh hotel as a Valentine treat from the Lord.

I did eventually get home this morning but even that wasn't hitchless. When I got to the posted lounge at 6:15 a.m. to wait for my flight to be called, a different flight was showing on the monitor. Of course that resulted in more confusion. Mechanical problems with our plane, was the problem they said. At one time they threatened to push back our scheduled 7:00 a.m. departure to 11:00 a.m. (lots more angst and grumbling and threats to never using Air Canada again). However, they did get us off the ground about 45 minutes late and we even got into Vancouver in time for some people to make their connecting flights.

I made my connection too. He took me home to a bouquet of beautiful golden-peach roses for Valentine's Day. Thanks love!


Willow said...

I've always wished for a paid for layover, but it seems I'm destined to fly merely late flights. I'll fly Air Canada again and again if they will give me those lovely accommodations!

In Indonesia, you could show up for your flight, wait four hours and then be told, we're not flying today, try again tomorrow. Or you could even show up on time and find out the pilot was impatient and decided to leave an hour early. Sorry, you lose.

violet said...

Willow, I fly so seldom, it's amazing I scored this layover. I sure wasn't complaining. But for people who have really really important things to do, no amount of posh digs will mollify, I think. And then there's the whole area of knowing God is in control. If you don't believe that, it's easy to get growly.

Ernie said...

Glad you made it back, Valentine! -E.

violet said...


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