This is day three of trying to fly back to NYC from Toronto. The irony that it only took four days to drive from Edmonton to NYC (2,500 miles) last year has not been lost on me. I was extremely lucky to have a friend take me in over the two nights – otherwise I probably would have just slept in the airport. I’ve had a lot of time to think of course, mostly in terms what went right and wrong during the days where I’ve been stuck at the airport and having never experienced a flight cancellation before.
Aside from the flight cancellations the airport has also managed to loose my suitcase, I’ll be making a report in NYC but I’m not going to hold my breath. Early on in the process I had decided not to even worry about the actual flight cancellations, but the suitcase thing has bothered me a lot. The first thing that I would redesign is how a person can keep track of their bag. Each checked bag has a barcode. Why not be able to check the status location from your cell or laptop, similar to the way you can keep track of a FedEx package? I would be willing to pay for that kind of convenience. Of course I’m never going to check a bag in again, but it’s something airlines should consider. I love how Air Canada and I assume every other airline is the same in abstaining in any responsibility for my lost time and expenses occurred b/c they didn’t have an available airplane. The excuse is that weather cancellations is not their fault. I don’t accept it, but there’s nothing I can do about it. A little good will could go a long way – give me free wifi at least.
The only reason why being stranded hasn’t totally weathered me down is that I’ve had my laptop and wifi that I’ve had to pay for. Ten bucks isn’t a huge inconvenience, but free is always better in my opinion. Staying in touch through IM, Facebook, Flickr and email has eased the boredom a lot. Power to keep the laptop running has been the only thing to worry about it. I’ve got two batteries that probably last three or four hours depending on what I’m doing. There’s electrical outlets near some of the seats, but there should be more. So it’s been a process of making sure my batteries are full and deciding how much time I want to be away from a power outlet. You never know when the power might go out and you need the extra battery life for something else. Did I mention that my cell cord to charge the battery is my suitcase? So my limited ability to conserve cell power has lead to some interesting ways to communicate with others. Again email has been a lifeline except when your in a restricted area such as baggage claim. So to let Mark who was picking me up know where I was, I had to rely on my one level of power to let him know that I was endlessly waiting for my bag.
I’ve come to learn that the Airport in Toronto has a sense of humour. Any checked international baggage that doesn’t make it out should find it’s way onto carousel number 13. Lucky thirteen right – the first day it was for me as I was able to get my bag the first night I was stranded here. The second day it was unlucky. No bag in sight. Of course there’s absolutely no signs mention that 13 is the carousel for that type of situation, there was one announcement an hour after I found out. Another mystery was trying to figure out how to leave the terminal after clearing American Customs once the flight had to be cancelled. I eventually tracked down someone that had to open a secure door where I found myself going through Canadian Customs. But by day two there was almost a routine to the chaos. I learned to embrace long lines, understanding that that there was a 50/50 chance of it being the line I needed to be in.
So the next time I travel, this is how I would plan my trip. 1. I would bring a suitcase that didn’t need to be checked in, no matter how long I’m away for. 2. I would have 2 batteries for my cell and laptop charged up. 3. I would have all the important flight information on my computer and paper format. That would include phone numbers for the airline and confirmation codes. 4. I would also write down important phone numbers and other information in case the cell or laptop dies. 5. For the laptop scenario to happen, you actually need a laptop – I find it extremely difficult not to have my computer with me at all times, so that’s a given, but if you’re wondering if you should or shouldn’t bring it, I would. It’s all common sense of course, but it’s a good idea to think about what you would do ahead of time if the ideal situation doesn’t work out.