Getting my boyfriend on a plane has turned into a nightmare.
Everything started the day before the flight. We had known for a while that there was a storm moving in, so we woke up to check the next day’s flight.Immediately my lack of knowledge about air travel kicked in. After checking the flight number, the only flight I could find was for that day. I spent a good hour freaking out, packing my boyfriend’s suitcase and trying to figure out how I would get him to the airport a day early, how we had lost a whole day. Come to find out, the number was attached to flights over several days, not just his flight. Crisis averted right?
That night we started to worry about what would happen if his flight were delayed or cancelled. We went to dinner with friends and nothing they were saying made us feel confident it would just be okay. We went home and immediately started calling Air Canada. After spending over an hour on hold, I hung up. The only way I can get through to Air Canada is through TWITTER. They assure me that everything will be rebooked for free if something happens. My friends are trying to find alternative solutions, such as flying out from another airport. I decide to call the other half of the flight to confirm what Air Canada has said. Within 10 minute Air France has not only answered my call, but taken care of all my worries and guaranteed the free rebooking. We go to sleep.
We wake up the next morning, run a few errands and get an unfortunately late start to the highway. The storm has started and plane departures are starting to be delayed and cancelled. Of course my boyfriend’s flight is still on time, which makes me responsible for getting him there. The trip should take 40 minutes. Five minutes in there are three cars in the ditch and it’s only raining. 15 minutes in the snow is building up on the roads and I have to slow down to 70km/hr from 110km/hr. 40 minutes in I’m only half way to the airport. I’m going 50km/hr, the pavement is gone and the car is sliding. I’m leading a long line of cars and tractor trailers, with the exception of one tiny blue car. Soon it turns off the highway and it’s all I can do to see where to drive. My boyfriend watches signs and I can practically hear how tense he is. An hour and a half later we arrive at the airport. The flight is still listed as on time.
Only one other flight is listed as on time. Anticipating that it will be delayed or cancelled, I wait with him until it’s time for him to go through security. I try not to make a scene as we say goodbye, but I cry everywhere anyway. I hug him, stick my hands in my pockets and only look back once. I pay my parking ticket, clear my car off and sit inside it and cry.
A friend has offered to let me stay at her place for the night, so I set up the GPS and drive over. It takes about 20 minutes and I blindly pull into the driveway.
That’s the sound of a car hitting a wall of snow. After we dig my car out and quite literally pull it out of the snow with another truck, I grab my things out of the car. My phone is lit up. Three missed calls from a +32 area code. A Facebook message, text message, Facebook post. All saying “COME GET ME.”
The plane is listed on the website as departed, but the passengers are all still there. Nothing is leaving. We venture out in my friend’s truck to get a very tired Belgian. I ask when his flight is in the morning. He tells me it will be three more days.
We spend the night with our friends, who make us maple sugar taffy and watch the Walking Dead together. In the morning we get ready and head to the mall, which is close until 1pm because of the 40 cm of snow the night before. We stick around a while, waiting for the highways to clear and then head the hell home.
Here’s my problem with this story. Bad weather happens. Flights get cancelled. These things are out of the airport’s control. Choosing when to cancel those flights is not. Knowing the forecast, and knowing that most of the other flights were canceled, Air Canada and Greater Moncton Airport had the option to cancel that flight. Instead they chose to let people risk their lives to get to the airport, completely for nothing. If I had gone back home instead of staying in town, I could have been killed or my boyfriend could have been stranded at the airport. They made an informed decision to allow their passengers to take those risks.
Some of you are saying “Why didn’t you change your flight before hand? Air Canada lets you do that.” They do, but if you can’t get through to an agent over the phone, you have to do it online. It just so happened that because his ticket was ordered by an agent, we weren’t issued the six digit code that allowed us to change that flight ahead of time. Isn’t that lovely?
I really REALLY want to boycott Air Canada. Unfortunately in order to fly to Belgium in the summer, I almost inevitably have to fly with them somehow. Perhaps between now and then I’ll figure something out.
OH, and don’t forget to stay turned for the second trip to the airport IN THE FREEZING RAIN.