A Christmas (Travel) Story
I’ve never flown on Christmas Eve before. Previously, on years when I’d come home to New Brunswick I’d leave the weekend before and work a few days remotely, but with a new job this year, my options had changed. So a Christmas Eve ticket it was. If all went smoothly I’d be home in time for some visiting, Midnight Mass, and a drink while wrapping gifts. Perf.
My check-in in St. John’s was smooth as smooth could be. My bags were underweight, I had an aisle seat, and all the staff were in good moods. My boots didn’t set off the metal detector and I had time to grab a cup of Tim’s before boarding. But then… flight delay.
Our plane was late leaving Halifax so we’d be an hour later getting off the ground. No biggie. I had a three hour layover so I’d still make my connection with time to meet my friend for a beer (it’s our Christmas tradition). So I loaded up Netflix and watched a bit of my Korean drama to pass the time.
The overhead bins on the plane were tiny and the flight was full, so the crew asked us if we could gate check our roller bags. I was feeling the Christmas spirit so, to help out the crew and my fellow passengers, I checked my carry-on. I could pick it up in Saint John. Best kind.
The flight itself was uneventful. I met my friend and had a chat and a drink before it was time to go back through security. Another smooth go through the scanner and I headed towards the commuter planes to catch my puddle jumper to YSJ. There was a small delay to fix a mechanical issue. Again, no biggie. But during those 20 minutes the fog rolled in with a vengeance.
We then had delay after delay waiting for the rain to start and the fog to dissipate. It was our band of Saint John bound passengers along with the crowd going to Fredericton and Charlottetown waiting in the spooky quiet airport. Not a rolling bag or gate chit-chat to be heard.
The rain started just before 8pm and flights could leave again. Yay! Except… during the two hours we’d been waiting one of the three flight crews had timed out. Boo. So Charlottetown and Fredericton were on their way while us SJers were left to wait another three hours for one of the crews to come back and get us. In the end, we touched down in New Brunswick at 5 minutes to midnight on Christmas Eve. But my story wasn’t done there. Oh no. I might’ve been in Saint John but my luggage, including my gate checked carry-on, were missing. Not so perf.
I haven’t been so thankful for new Christmas Eve pjs in a long time. I had faith that the bags couldn’t have gotten too lost in the small Maritime airports so it was just a question of when I’d see my stuff again. My little red bags finally showed up at my door on Boxing Day morning full of delayed Christmas gifts, clothes, and toiletries.
One thing all this travel over the last few years has taught me is to go with the flow and problem solve on the fly. I’ve learned to sort out what’s important from what’s just an inconvenience. So the gifts for my friends and family didn’t get there in time… the important thing was that I did. And it means we could extend the gift giving for another day.
January 5th, 2015 at 6:13 pm (#)
Lovely blog! I can definitely related to your story of Christmas airport challenges. Problem solving on the fly is a good way to be. It’s really an exercise in being in the moment I find.
I’ve written a post on flying from the UK to Canada for Christmas.
January 12th, 2015 at 9:51 pm (#)
Christmas always seems to have more problems than other times of the year doesn’t it? The main thing is that we get there in the end.
January 18th, 2015 at 10:23 pm (#)
I am sorry to hear about your ordeal, but I’m sure your friends and family were really glad you got home for Christmas day.
Brave of you to check in your carry on, though. I’ve had luggage delayed a couple of times, so I always pack the carry on with at least one set of extra clothes, just in case. I’d be very reluctant to check it in.
February 3rd, 2015 at 1:21 pm (#)
I haven’t had issues with delayed luggage on that route before and I was just thinking about avoiding the pain of trying to get on board early enough to find bin space for my bag. Lesson learned….change of shirt and undies goes in the purse! lol
February 1st, 2015 at 2:48 pm (#)
Was checking out some of the blogs from various attendees at WITS. Came across yours and noticed we both have something in common! Both originally from Saint John, NB area! :) Great blog! Looking forward to meeting a fellow Canadian.
February 3rd, 2015 at 1:19 pm (#)
Small world! I was born and raised in Quispamsis before I moved to Newfoundland 11 years ago.