When Over-Preparation for Travel Pays Off: Stuck Between Flight 74 and 75
I often feel ridiculous going through the many, many steps of the routine I go to prior to traveling. After 74 flight segments in the last near-decade (yes, I counted flight segments—as in individual planes—and, no, I’m not certain this is 100% right—if it’s not, I missed a flight), the Airline Gods finally threw a decently sized wrench into my return flight home from Philadelphia.
I mean, look, pretty good that I’ve got 22+ trips under my belt with only minor snags, right?
Preparing for travel
I’ve written a bunch about preparing for travel before. The keys to my travel prep are: pack meds in the carry on, pack extra meds just in case, pack my portable nebulizer and hope to not need it, bring prednisone, and pack any medical thing you think you might need—you can buy literally anything else you forget.
So, I headed to Philly with everything I needed. Well, except three things: my toothbrush, my deodorant (they were in the same pencil case), and my Singulair. A text to the front desk (!) solved the toothbrush problem in 7 minutes. A trip to CVS the next morning solved the deodorant problem. Bumming meds off a fellow asthmatic solved the Singulair problem.
I was set.
When all the preparation truly pays off.
I boarded my flight to Toronto with Dia and Shelly. We split up, but as the cabin doors closed two things happened: I texted Dia that the seat beside me was still empty and she should move up when the fasten-seatbelt sign was turned off, and I got an e-mail from Air Canada saying “Flight ZX7539 has been delayed. Therefore, you will not be able to make your connection. For this reason, YOUR CONNECTING FLIGHT HAS BEEN CHANGED.”
Which was NONSENSE because even per this e-mail I would have had a good 90 minutes to get to my next flight.
And even worse?
My flight was changed to THE NEXT MORNING. For no good reason. I had plenty of time to make that flight even with the delays!
I tweeted at Air Canada. I direct messaged them a couple of times. There was nothing they could do, it was “the computer”, and then I had to shut my phone off.
Midway through the flight, the captain came on and informed us we would be in a holding pattern above Toronto for the next 50 minutes. On top of already being delayed. Dia and I burst out laughing because look, this was already ridiculous since I’d received that e-mail rescheduling me to an 8 AM flight. The flight attendant four rows up looked over at us and was like “I’m glad you’re taking this well.”
People, what else were we supposed to do? I’d already questioned her about my plight, so might as well find the comedy.
Sorting things out—not.
I headed to my gate upon arriving in Toronto, but there was no agent there. A series of queries to airport employees landed me with a lady yelling about the conference she couldn’t speak at the next day due to being stuck in Toronto, and the dad and his cute little girl who could’ve spent another night at Disney Springs. The delays had been caused due to Toronto Pearson International Airport being shut down due to low clouds or something. (Seriously?) The whole airport.
I tried to be not-a-jerk to the customer service lady. I apologized for yelling at her and told her I knew it was not her fault and I just wanted to understand why I’d been bumped off my flight—especially since I made it to the gate before there was even an agent there. She couldn’t give me an explanation, she couldn’t book me back on my flight (which, though not allowed, I told every Air Canada employee I met I would go on without my bag), and instead booked me a hotel room at the YYZ Crowne Plaza and provided me two meal vouchers. I headed to bag claim. Last year coming back from Philly, I had to retrieve my Winnipeg bound bag to stay in Toronto. This took forever. When I asked for my bag, they told me it’d be an hour if I wanted to wait. It was after midnight. I did not want to freaking wait another minute in that airport.
I had my meds and my nebulizer in my carry-on. I had power cords for my phone, a bag of popcorn, my iPad, wallet, and not a whole lot else. My jacket fortunately hadn’t fit in my checked bag, so I had it with me. I headed to the appropriate pillar to head to the hotel.
The key thing
The key thing? I had my “all my asthma sh*t” bag. Air Canada gave me an overnight kit with a bunch of scented products I couldn’t use, but also with a foldable brush-comb, toothbrush, and toothpaste. Seriously, how many tiny tubes of toothpaste can a girl acquire on a trip after forgetting hers, and having her newly acquired toothpaste being trapped in Pearson Airport?
Not having to worry about any of that, I instead called Air Canada to switch me to the 10 AM flight (least they could do is make me not have to be at the airport at 6 AM!), explored my overnight kit, listened to some podcasts, enjoyed a broken sleep in the Crowne Plaza (which, thank god, unlike the last Crowne Plaza I stayed in did not have aromatherapy in it).
And this, people, is why you keep your meds with you. Not just because the freezing belly of the aircraft may affect the potency of your meds (fact to be verified), but because your meds could be stuck in Pearson (or any other airport) if you get delayed somewhere. When they are with you, there is no stress. Okay, less stress.
The next morning, I took my asthma medicine (minus the Singulair and minus the Vyvanse since I had neither—note to self, pack extra pills even just for 3 days!), chatted with Dia by phone on her commute, got an iced venti decaf caramel latte, boarded flight 75 of the decade, and gave one of my two remaining meal vouchers to the lovely older couple seated next to me, whom I’d happened to chat with in the airport. They were so adorable looking at the menu, it made me quite happy after a ridiculous 12 hours.
And there it was, between flights 74 and 75 of the last 10 years, finally proven to me why I take the abundance of caution that I do in carrying meds—and extra meds. Because, it doesn’t matter what airline you’re on, you could be bumped for no reason (at least no reason anybody ever explained to me). Well, at least I got some free mac n cheese and a Kit Kat out of the deal, and made some nice people smile. Oh, and a $300 voucher from Air Canada for a flight I only paid $187 for…