…late! What a topsy-turvey day. I’m writing this as I’m flying over the US/Canada border and Lake Erie (?) and I’m finally on my last flight home. I’ve been on three continents today and I’m afraid to calculate how long I’ve been awake and how far I’ve traveled.
I left my house in Ethiopia Friday night at 9:30pm and made it safely through. Met a nice British couple who were returning home after a family wedding. We ended up talking quite a while as our flight ended up being delayed by 1 1/2 hours out of Addis. I should mention my connection in London was 75 minutes. So, I got the agent at the gate in Addis to get me on the next flight to Toronto out of London (just in case I didn’t make it, which I didn’t).
I ended up with a three hour layover in London and got confirmed for my new flight and made sure my bags were booked and rebooked myself to Tampa. Not a bad experience, except for the macchiato there. Actually had wifi use free for the time as I was in the new terminal as the Queen is coming to open it in a couple days. So it was a “pardon our mess” it seems as it wasn’t the usual hour limit.
And so I got on the plane to Toronto, anticipating a one hour connection, and found out we ever going to be late….again….but by minutes not hours. Well, not much to do but try to enjoy the eight hour (?) flight. (Time lengths, days, and actual time were fuzzy by this point as I only dozed on the 6 hour flight to London). I had a chatty Irish-British-Canadian as one of my three other seat mates and instead of sleeping I was able to stay awake – might help with jet lag.
I don’t think eight hours has ever felt so long as it did sitting in the middle, seemingly crawling through the air in a tiny metal tube. Dear Lord, I was about to go crazy!
When we finally did land, I hurried off to make my connection and got to the US customs section (yes, in Canada) and was beeped to talk to an airline agent. Maybe my bags didn’t make it so I couldn’t identify them by pictures on a screen?
An older lady told me that I was no longer booked on my flight to Tampa (she rebooked me, again) and my bags, which, since they were ticketed by Ethiopian Airways (all the way through my ticket said), were downstairs and I had to turn around and go through Canada customs.
So I grabbed a different form, ran downstairs and filled the form in line. Lots of questions by the custom’s officer and hurried up and waited for my bag to come out….and waited…and waited…and my flight started boarding….and waited….
My seat mate came up at that point and was surprised (and confused) to see me there. Ended up neither of our bags came out so ran off to report lost luggage at Air Canada’s desk. Ended up kind of butting because the guy at the desk could see my hurry. He couldn’t figure out why I was sent downstairs: “That’s wrong.” He did something’s but told me to report lost luggage in Tampa, go back upstairs again, and try to make my flight.
Back upstairs meant going through US customs where the officer looked at me, my flight time, and shook his head. “Your flight leaves in 8 minutes. You’re not going to make it so just stop trying and let’s figure out what’s going on” he said after hearing my rushed story with me on the edge of tears. He walked me through the private doors to the desk I was trying to get through and handed me off to a nice lady, explaining the situation (apparently you’re not allowed to do what I did without a lost luggage verification which never happened).
Again, the older lady was there and tried to send me downstairs – again! But since my bags were lost to me by that point, I didn’t go and went to the lost luggage guy. Guess what? My bags were in Toronto waiting for me! But I’d missed my flight by then so time to re-book.
Next flight to Tampa was Sunday and I’d miss my other flight to meetings. What about Orlando? Yes, a flight but….wait…it was oversold. I was already fighting tears of frustration and exhaustion by now. Dear sweet lady, she looked at my original flight and saw it was actually delayed! A phone call to confirm, a phone call for permission, and she told me to RUN! When a gate agent looks at you with those eyes and that command, you obey.
So I did, begging the people in the immigration line if I could go to the head of the line, even managed to get it out in Spanish the instant I heard the next person in line speak it. The man guiding people glanced at my boarding pass (flight time now passed) and I told him it was delayed but they wouldn’t hold the plane for me. Made it through immigration and RAN to security.
I suppose when you come running the security personnel take note. The guy who had directed me in immigration had followed me and he made sure to escort me up to the front and I went through and was heading toward gates.
Run, girl, run, best as you can with 10 pounds on your back and your computer in hand!
By the time I reached the gate I was wheezing, coughing, and mouth dry, (why are terminals so long?!) but I had made it. The gate lady was surprised I made it too and beeped me on. I heard behind me “She made it!” from other passengers as I guess I wasn’t the only one late and was In line for security.
As I settled into my seat I realized – I was in the first group that was boarding. And then we proceeded to wait another hour! So one delay makes me miss my flight and the other helps me make my flight. Oh mechanical issues!
I have never had so many difficulties with flights (every.single.one.today!) despite how often I fly! But I will say, except for the one lady that sent me on a wild goose chase in Toronto, everyone was extremely helpful. May God bless all who helped me today in their various ways….and may my bags be actually on this flight so I can take B her birthday present tomorrow.
PS bags made it