Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Well hello from....Calgary!

Yes I said I would not be posting until London but well what can I say.  I am supposed to be there but the flight was canceled and here I sit at the Clique Hotel at Calgary airport.

The day started out great.  My friend Marianne picked me up and we headed off to a restaurant on the way to the airport and had lunch.  I was very sensible and had feta chicken with rice pilaf and vegetables.  Yum and healthy.   The flight to Calgary was uneventful.

Our gate was announced 90 minutes before the flight and one hour before the flight was due to take off we were told the flight was canceled due to maintenance issues.  I had read about these "issues" AFTER I booked my (super cheap) flight with WestJet. Cancellations and late flights are not uncommon with the London route. We were told that the flight would go tomorrow but absolutely no details. Due to people yakking I could not hear exactly what we were to do.  I heard the word customs and that was it.  I was sitting beside a woman who had recently had hip surgery four months ago and was meeting a friend in London for ten days. We had been having a good chat about London and I was giving her a list of things to do and just chatting about life. One of those people you meet in life that you "click" with.  People were going every which way and some were in line. It was all very confusing until they told us to get in we did.  And the meantime the woman I had been sitting with decided to try and get a flight with Air Canada..(she was meeting a friend from the U.S. in London and was worried on her being on her own for a day....) We were then told to proceed to Customs through another gate so there was a stampede.  We had to put our name, flight number and sign a customs form.  Shortest trip I have ever been on!  And yes we had to hand it to a customs officer - because while at the gate we were in "no man's land" I guess.  Then we had to get our luggage.  At this point we knew nothing - there was no one from West Jet directing us.  I must point out that the International Terminal is brand new as in less than a month old so no one seemed to know their way around.  We handed our forms in and proceeded to the arrivals area.  From there we were told to go to the International departures - well where is that?  To the left of the exit there was a line with about 100 people in it and I asked if this was for the canceled flight...yep.  It said transfers and I inquired is this it for sure.  Yep, even the Air Canada agent standing around said yes wait here.  And there was ONE WestJet person dealing with it!  Then all of a sudden we were told to go upstairs and waved in a direction.  Well I decided to go up the escalators that the person was vaguely pointing to - good move.  The people that went up the escalator closest to us had to go through security again complete with luggage!

Gong show! gets better.  We then found out way to the International departures counter for Westjet where there were four agents working (yay) and about 75 plus travelers ahead of me.  Once again not one person from WestJet to direct us where to go to get here. This is where I heard horror stories about WestJet's London service.  One fellow traveled in July and was stuck in Iceland for three nights and another one was stuck in Iceland for one night but was not allowed to leave the terminal. (and I'm thinking "and you're using them again"?)  Once at the agent I was given my boarding pass for the next day as well as a voucher for the hotel, taxi vouchers and $60 worth of meals.  So then it was "where do I go now to get out of here"?  The line by this time was HUGE - while I was waiting I could not even see the end of it.  I could not find an exit to this area and as I was wandering past the line the lady I had sat with saw me and called out.  Turns out Air Canada wanted $1500 for a one way fare so needless to say... I told her what the agent had told me and about the vouchers.  Well!  People around her overheard and were all asking me what was happening.  I felt like a star making my way down a row of fans - ha. I kept getting stopped by frantic people. I felt so sorry for them as they had a long wait ahead of them.  Finally after what seemed like ten minutes I got clear and asked a fellow driving one of the buggies how to exit to get a taxi. Well even he didn't know.  By this time another fellow was walking with me so we both hopped onto the buggy and he dropped us off a fair distance away. This fellow had a voucher for the shuttle bus and I had a taxi.  We were being sent to the same hotel and figured we could take a taxi but then mine said "one" which had us thinking only one person?  I think the buggy driver thought we were "together" so was quite confused as to how we had different kinds of vouchers - ha!  We got dropped and told to take the elevator down. Once there my "companion" said he was going to look into getting a taxi voucher at the agents desk in departures.  Okay...(too bad, he was cute) He was absolutely exhausted as he lives in Hawaii so had flown in from there that day before flying on to London.   Of course this is the time I decided to be "smart" and not have any Canadian money on me at all so couldn't even give the taxi driver a tip - he wasn't impressed anyway at such a "short trip" and a voucher at that let alone no tip! I guess I could have given him a tip on my debit card but it was in my money belt and I was too tired and frazzled to think of that then.

Once at the hotel another line up but about 25 minutes later I got my room key and what a room.  Very nice.  The one good thing about this whole fiasco I guess. I had bought a sandwich at the airport so had that last night and relaxed.  Even a TV in the bathroom!!!  And a bathtub/shower that you need instructions how to use!  I figured out this shower this morning but could not figure how to run a bath last night - I really wanted to so I could say I watched TV while in the bathtub!!!

Very comfy bed - wish I could sleep in but one of the downs of old age.  Not being able to sleep for too long. So here's hoping the rescheduled flight this afternoon goes.  After hearing other people's stories I can handle it.  There is a woman trying to get to see an elderly relative who is not well at all and people who only have as little as five days over there.  Losing a day is huge...for me not so much.  I will miss seeing the London Christmas tree being lit for the first time this season in Trafalgar Square tomorrow night - one of the main reasons I am going so early.  Yes I could go but a very crowded event in central London is not the best choice when you are tired and jet lagged. You need your wits about you in a packed crowd.  I am tired already so hate to think what kind of shape I will be like by the time I get there.  I was very upset last night with all the confusion (especially as WestJet should be quite experienced in these matters now) but have calmed down now.  Fingers crossed I am in London this time tomorrow!!!

1 comment:

Marianne Barkman said...

Very good description of the horrors of air travel ! It's all worth it in the end ! Had coffee with a friend today who said The Chimney was terrible but geez I thought it was really good & told him so !

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