Over the past three years, I’ve learned that January and February are the absolute worst months for air travel. Unfortunately, they’re also the months I want to travel the MOST – to seek any warm refuge from this wet, snowy hellish nightmare – but it’s just not worth it.
On my way back from NYC, I decided to spend 10 days with my best friend and her baby in Halifax, while also visiting a handful of other BFFs. And while I DID want to stay with her longer, I had to get back to St. John’s to start researching my Irish family.
Here is the long string of ridiculousness that happened on account of weather, striking airport workers, and general bullshittery. (With several funny coincidences throughout.)
My flight is leaving at 9:40 PM. I spot my friend Jess in the waiting area at Halifax Stanfield, and we have a laugh about how we both hate flying.
Enroute to YYT, a woman is sitting next to me…TEXTING. IN THE AIR. Nobody stops her. She’s TEXTING. And then as we move into St. John’s for a very, very rocky landing, we are literally OVER the runway…and the plane ascends. Nobody says anything. Jess, sitting behind me, taps me on the shoulder. “Are we going back up?”
Yes, we made it all the way to St. John’s and had to turn back for Halifax because the turbulence was so severe and the runway was icy due to lack of maintenance (striking workers).
We order beers. It’s the least Westjet could do. The lady next to me — we’ll call her Betty — starts freaking out. She doesn’t know what to do, or where to go, or what will become of her! But Jess and I assure her she can cab with us. The instructions are clear: pick up our shit, and let Westjet settle us away.
The line-up is BIG, once we land. Betty is lagging behind while Jess and I are trying to beat the others to the front. We finally make it. Finally. I’m in line-up and I pass Halifax’s SOAR magazine to Jess, pointing out an article I had written in it. A man in front of me overhears.
“Judging by your red hair and where you’re headed, you must be Wence Walsh’s daughter from St. Alban’s.”
I was…speechless. Stunned. I stood there staring at him, bewildered, until he finally explained he was my father’s cousin.
Once we get our vouchers (which Westjet handled magnificently, btw), Jess, Betty and I all head to the cab. Our Betty is seriously stressed out over the use of vouchers, and can’t tell which one is for food and which one is for the hotel and which one is for the cabs. We explain patiently, eager to get to the hotel.
I tell my cab driver that we’re going to the Delta Barrington. My voucher says that the Delta is on Barrington Street, so I put two and two together. When he drops us off about 35 minutes later, we find out we’re at the wrong hotel…we’re actually supposed to be at Delta Halifax. I feel terrible. Betty is swearing up and down on the cabbie who misled us, and I have to explain that no, it’s all my fault. (She had already freaked out at the Westjet agent, saying everything was his fault.)
The hotel is about a block up from us. I grab one of Betty’s massive suitcases and start dragging it behind me, along with all my own crap, and we bolt for the hotel.
By the time we check in, it’s 2:30.
The next day, I meet Jess for dinner at the Delta restaurant. We have food vouchers, I have just won the #1 Canadian travel blogger award, and we are celebrating. Our flight won’t be leaving until that evening, as Westjet only has two flights that operate between Halifax and St. John’s daily.
Now, the wind has been raging ALL DAY. Like, hurricane force. I refuse to believe we are going to make it out of Halifax tonight either, so I call up Westjet. I basically say, “Hey, we really don’t wanna waste our time by going all the way to the airport AGAIN and being turned around.” I am assured that flights are still landing in St. John’s.
Sufficiently sauced, Jess and I head to the airport in what is my first airport drunk experience ever. (It really helps ease the nerves, by the way.)
We’re waiting to board our flight, and then comes the ominous announcement — ladies and gentlemen, we will not be flying to St. John’s tonight.
At least this time we didn’t make it all the way to St. John’s and back. This time we’re put up in the extravagant Atlantica hotel, and it’s still early enough to hit up the town for awhile.
But here’s the thing: while waiting in line-up for new vouchers and hotel stuff, I’m minding my own business when I hear someone shouting my name.
Turns out it’s the lovely folks (and my good friends) from Iceberg Quest, a local tour operator out of St. John’s and Twillingate. We catch up in the line-up after not having seen each other for a few months. I know the world is SMALL, but man…it is SMALL.
And finally, since I had been eager to spend more time with Jo and the baby anyway, this time I ask to push my flight to Monday morning. I sense the attendant is relieved about not having to cram everyone into flights the next day. I’d fly out at 10 AM, and still make it back to town in time to conduct some archival research.
Up at 6 am, flight cancelled. M$#@#F@*!
I made it home Tuesday evening, after my FOURTH ATTEMPT. February, you suck.