Category Archives: Airline Travel

The Indignities of Air Travel

I had some extra time to indulge in Moving Meditations yesterday. I was returning from Texas to Toronto, via Montreal. I guess that was my first mistake. When you take a points ticket that involves a connection, I now know a) not to make it through Montreal and b) not to have your connection be your customs spot. I would have been better off stagnating in Atlanta or almost anywhere.

What happened was that my flight was slightly late taking off from Houston, and slightly late landing. That didn’t seem so problematic. They even expedited customs and had a special super fast line through for connecting passengers. I breezed past many hundreds of unhappy regular travelers, and was through in minutes. The logjam was oddly on the way out, after we’d picked up our luggage and had to drop it back off. We couldn’t get out of the customs area and to the secondary luggage drop – because there were so many people and no one working there to guide/advise us. By the time I got to the front of the line, I was flagged as being too late to make my flight, and shunted off to a side lane, where a friendly and helpful (though clearly harassed and hurried) agent, was tasked with rebooking me on a later flight to Toronto.

The last time I had a connection through Montreal it ended up in a delay where I had to spend the night at my own expense. I was directed to a Holiday Inn where I was given a room on the second floor – in a hotel with NO ELEVATOR! This was another Air Canada flight, meaning one where I was able to bring two heavy bags, and did. After a brief attempt to drag one up the stairs, I gave up and simply dragged myself up, leaving the bags with the night desk clerk.

So, I was pretty pleased to find myself booked onto a later flight that was a mere hour later than the original. After the agent handed me my new boarding pass and retagged my luggage, I was urged to hurry and drop off the suitcase and head back through security and to the new gate.

There was barely time for a compensatory pint, (none at all for poutine or food of any kind besides a cookie) and I was at the gate in time for boarding. Just as I was handing the new boarding pass to the gate agent, it struck me: this new ticket was NOT IN MY NAME! I explained the situation in a milder panic than if I had still been in the States, but for whatever reason, the rebooking agent had rebooked me on the later flight as Carol Lombardi – and tagged my checked bag in her name for good measure. The new flight was boarding, and there was no time to lose. The gate agent, an older man, was friendly and helpful, but also harried. He looked me up, and said I didn’t exist, but worked some airline voodoo and rebooked me again. At this very moment, the gate printer quit working, so he wrote my boarding pass in his own shaky hand. It included my name, seat, and flight number, and after handing me something that looked like it came off a 1990 dot matrix printer – which was my new bagtag, he waved me onto the plane.

A few moments after everyone was seated, there was a message from the cockpit that we had a ‘no show’ passenger with a checked bag that had to be removed for security purposes before we could take off. This happens on about every other flight I take, so it took a moment for me to react. I pressed the page button and spoke to two flight attendants in some distress, trying to find out if the bag being removed belonged to my alter-ego ‘Carol Lombardi’. Alas, they refused to give me any info and said it was too late. I would simply have to wait until Toronto; there was nothing they could do to stop this once it was in motion.

I got to Toronto finally. Waited a long time beside an empty luggage carousel, and had some difficulty explaining my situation, but eventually, the luggage agents understood and believed. What I didn’t know was when (or even if) ALL my clothes (and my new spring ones) would arrive. Happily, the answer was a little under 24 hours later. So, thank you to the people who found them, and thank you to Carol Lombardi, who I assume had right of first refusal, and let me have my stuff.

Back to work tomorrow.