It takes take 10 ½ hours to get from London to Kenora, Ontario. That was the plan. We would fly from London to Toronto and connect there to a flight to Winnipeg. In Winnipeg we were picking up a rental car and driving to Kenora. We left on Thursday, as I had to be up at 5:00AM on Saturday morning to drive from Kenora to Emo, Ontario to speak at a men’s breakfast.
Well, it didn’t turn out the way we planned.
Wednesday Night (night before we were to leave)
I was able to check in for my flight. Went to check in Sandy and instead of giving Sandy a seat, it read “at gate.” I knew immediately (from experience) that meant the flight was overbooked. Seeing that these flights had been booked early in the year, I decided to call Air Canada. I fly a lot and thought I could talk my way into getting her a seat assignment.
I was told that the flight was overbooked and Sandy would potentially get a seat at the gate. I asked them to switch the flights and guarantee our seats. All other flights were not just booked, but overbooked. Air Canada didn’t offer any resolution, so I had to come up with my own solution.
I checked the flight online and found a seat in business class. For an additional $282, I could get Sandy a confirmed seat on the flight. This was supposed to be a short vacation for Sandy and I so travelling together was kind of the point. I ungraded the flight to make sure we would both arrive at the same time at least even if we couldn’t sit together.
We arrived in Toronto from London without incident. We boarded the flight for Winnipeg. Other than me being in economy and Sandy being in the front of the plane, all was normal. We were stuck on the runway for a long time when the pilot’s voice came over the speakers saying we couldn’t take off because we had been waiting for a runway so long that the brakes had overheated.
We pulled off the active runway and the plane was shutdown to cool the brakes. After the brakes cooled off, we couldn’t take off because the flight before ours had reported wind shear on take off. Then a thunderstorm developed on our flight route, and by the time we had waited for that to clear the storm had reached Toronto and shut down the airport. All told, we waited on the plane for over two hours when the pilot came on the speaker and said the plane needed to refuel and the flight crews had timed out on their hours.
At that point, all attempts to get our plane into the air were abandoned and we deplaned. There were no more flights that night. Then we were told there would be no compensation because the delay was caused by weather, when in fact the initial delay was a mechanical problem. (There is runway construction/maintenance at the Toronto airport causing significant delays.)
As you can imagine, Air Canada now had a plane-full of angry people lining up at the customer service kiosk. It was 9PM and there were only two agents at customer service, so Sandy and I went up to the Air Canada lounge to sort out the problem. (Frequent flier perk) The staff in the lounge were very helpful, and arranged a hotel room and taxi for us and assured us we had seats on the same flight the next day. We were not happy, but they had given us good service. They even gave us our boarding passes for the next day, or so we thought.
We spent the night at the hotel and headed back to the airport at 1:00PM the next day, looking forward to or flight. When we got to the airport, we tried to check our bag and were told that the boarding passes we had been given were for the day before, for the flight we had been on for more than two hours and was cancelled. Then we were told that we weren’t booked on any flight that day.
We were not happy. In the end, they found seats for us on a later flight so we would make it to Winnipeg that night. Everyone boarded the plane and then pilot came on and said we would be waiting for baggage to be loaded on the plane. This was supposed to be a 15 minute wait but ended up delaying us for over an hour.
We finally got to Kenora at 12:15AM Saturday morning and I was still up at 5AM to drive to Emo. Fortunately, my brother-in-law drove, so we arrived safely.
On our return, we were delayed leaving Winnipeg because of the work on the runway in Toronto. We literally had to run to our gate to catch our connecting flight to London. We boarded the plane and were then told the pilot had forgotten his navigational computer, so that delay cost us another hour.
Air Canada paid for the taxi and hotel and reimbursed us for the majority of the cost of the upgrade so it only ended up costing us time.
When all this happened I was very frustrated, but in the end we arrived safely, we got home safely, and we had a nice vacation together. We need to always remember even when things don’t go the way we planned that someone has planned it and that planner is God. He let it all happen for a reason, a reason we will never know, but God knows.