Monday, January 4, 2010

Flying from out stations

Today was one of those days.  For me, perhaps the perfect travel storm.  I was flying out of YKA today and scheduled to depart at 09:30.  I had about 100km drive to get to the airport and when we left all was good on the departures board.  Being that there was fresh snow falling, the drive took a little longer than expected, but not so long that I would have missed my flight.  Just as we were getting near the airport I checked the flight status online and noticed that my flight had been cancelled.

Being proactive I quickly called into the Air Canada Elite line and started to rebook on a later flight (the 11:45 which was already delayed to 12:45).  All went well, I received a confirmation email and I was looking golden.  Not long after we arrived at the airport and I went to checkin and get my boarding passes.  I told the agent what I’d done, provided him with the confirmation number only to be told “You’re not on those flights”.  Again I told him what I’d done and I dug out my phone and hit the interwebs to show him the confirmation email for the change.  He looked at it and said “Yah…looks right to me.”  I dug around in my confirmation emails and found the one for the seat assignments I’d picked online after getting off the phone from the re-booking and he dug up the passengers allocated to those seats.  None were me.

Turns out that somehow my re-booking through the phone had been overridden by the airport agents when they began offloading the passengers from the cancelled flight.  I was less than impressed, but decided that it didn’t matter all that much as I had about six other flight options remaining through the day.

I got put on standby for the next flight out and was scheduled for one quite a bit later in the day.  I figured that I could standby on all the others in between those two just in case I possibly could get out.  In the end it wasn’t necessary.

As the day progressed, flights were posted with delays of up to two and a half hours but none were cancelled.  People began to build up in the land-side of the terminal still clinging to the hope of getting out of Kamloops.

On a slight tangent, realize that YKA is the end of the line when it comes to flights.  Nothing really goes through here.  Planes basically just come from one place and then head back.  There are two gates and one gate area.  All boarding is done via the tarmac.  Arrivals has one luggage carousel.  There is one cafe.  It doesn’t stock any decent scotch.  There is one TV.  There are two TVs for flight info, one for departures and one for arrivals.  The list is so short that tomorrows flights always show on the list.  Not all of them….but some.  There is no priority line for Elites or Super Elites (gasp!).  Once your bags are tagged you carry them to the security screening area and run them through the machines just like your carry one.  Someone diverts them out of the machine and into the back.  So, as you imagine, it’s small.

Anyways.  Flights are being delayed and the little terminal building is getting full….really full.  Finally they start cancelling a few flights.  Slowly at first.  Then they sent out a couple planes to try to land.  One takes off from YVR and the other from YYC.  Both make an attempt to land and both diverted due to weather.

Then all of a sudden a wave of cancelations.  Probably three at the same time and now there is chaos.  The line for the Air Canada check-in desk stretches almost all the way through the terminal.  People are trying to get rebooked on the phone while they wait in line.  People are, of course, complaining about anything that they can think of.  It’s not unruly, but it’s not pretty looking.

I grabbed a seat near the line and just watched.  Then I realized that I should be getting rebooked.  So I got out my Aeroplan Elite bat phone and called in.  By the time I was finished getting re-booked on a later flight, plus getting a seat protected on an even later flight, that line of people hadn’t moved one inch.  Being nice and small, YKA doesn’t have a Maple Leaf Lounge, so I made do in with the cafe that is there.  It provided an ample supply of AC power for my laptop and phone charger, some pretty good food, and a nice spicy caesar.

Eventually all of my planning was for naught.  It looks like all flights (except maybe the last one out tonight) were cancelled.  My last call to the Elite bat phone got me onto the first available flight tomorrow…which is the last flight of the day…but I’m getting out….weather permitting.

In the end it’s not that big of a deal.  A pain, yes (due to the 1.5 hr drive to and from the airport), but nothing earth shattering.

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