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Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts: Double Loop- Day 1

22 Jul

Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts- Double Loop
July 10-19, 2015:

Fri. July 10, 2015:
Toronto flying to Hartford, Connecticut

The day started off kind of weird. The Pan Am games were beginning and the subway was full of unbearable teenage tourists. There were two separate tour groups, by the time they had all cleared out it was amazing how quiet the subway was. Even with that minor annoyance, we were making great time.

The airport was not busy at all, which was a bit surprising as the Pan Am games torch had passed through that morning. We got through security quickly with no delays. It turns out our gate was in some far off corner of the airport, I kept calling it Siberia. It felt like we had been exiled. We actually passed a sign saying that from the sign to our gate was another 7 minute walk. Then we passed another sign warning us that the convenience store was the last one we would pass. There was no way I was going to back-track to Tim Hortons, the round trip (not counting waiting) would be at least 15 minutes! Forget that, I ordered a bagel from the Great Canadian Bagel instead. Not only did this save me some time, it gave me more time to watch Under the Dome on the iPad. TV is not the same without snacks, and so I ended up cracking open the cherry blasters I had been saving for the flight. In no time we had polished off the whole bag. Oops.

I was starting to get antsy. We had arrived two hours before our flight was to leave and it was past boarding time. I had looked up at the board before and noticed it said Hartford 13:30. I thought nothing of it, assuming that was the flight after ours. If we were delayed surely they would have announced it? In short order they did announce it. Mechanical delays they said. Suddenly we were delayed two more hours. The walk to Timmies did not seem so bad anymore. My legs were cramped and my neck hurt from watching The Grand Hotel on the iPad (the Netflix app is a god-send). Walking there I was a little nervous. I texted Brent asking if they can un-delay a flight? Of course he did not respond, as he had left his cell phone at home. Even still, checking the boards the whole time, I hurried back from Timmies and Starbucks for fear they might start boarding soon.

What I came back to was a full airport lounge. Due to the delays, the departing flights were starting to stack up. There were no free seats and people were getting mad. Brent had gone for a walk to stretch his legs. I spent the whole time telling people the seat was taken, instead of watching more TV. There was a bottleneck of people at the gates. Our gate was changed to the next one over, which did not help as they were all in one corner anyways.

And then another update: we were delayed by yet another hour. For those of you keeping score: we were now 3 hours delayed. What else could I do but keep watching TV? At 4pm, when our flight was finally due to take off we were informed that it had in fact been cancelled. A wave of groans and anger rolled through the lounge. On my earlier adventure I had made note of where the Air Canada customer service desk was. Just before they made the announcement I had noticed on the board that it was cancelled. I grabbed my stuff and made a beeline to the desk. Yet another upside to travelling light, we were able to grab our stuff quick.

Now we were at that point where we realized if we had driven we’d already be at our destination. We were one of the first groups to the desk. We got tickets on an 8:00pm flight and were put on stand-by for a 4:00pm flight. Things were not looking good, it seemed our first day of vacation was quickly being eaten up by the airport. Air Canada gave us $10 food vouchers- as if that helped matters at all? Great, I thought, a voucher towards crappy airport food.

I was getting really antsy and sick of sitting in the airport. I longed to go outside, I was starting to forget what sunshine felt like, what fresh air smelled like. As you can see, I was getting the airport crazies. We had been in the airport for about 6 hours by that point.

When it came time for the boarding of the 4:00pm flight we crowded by the gate. Again, there was a bottle-neck due to many flights being delayed. It was just a bad day at the airport all around. We had no idea how stand-by works, and so I had to Google it. Another couple who had been ahead of us in line got on the flight. We remained slightly hopeful. Then, what seemed like against all odds, the lady read Brent’s name and tried to read my last name but just pointed to us and asked if we were travelling together. Yes, yes we were. She asked if we were willing to be split up, there was one last seat on the list. At the time, it did not make sense for us to split up as one of us would be stuck at Bradley International Airport just sitting there in a rental car. We had gotten so close! Did I mention that this flight had also been delayed? Only by about 30 minutes, but still.

We had another 3 hours before our flight and despite the stress we were getting kind of hungry. We had dinner at one of the airport pubs, at least we could use those stupid vouchers. To go with my mac and cheese comfort food dinner I ordered sparkling wine, served in a champagne glass. It was an odd combination but at least for a while I forgot I was trapped in an airport.

Back in the airport lounge we were down to the wire. Only an hour and a half to go and we would be on our way. I was mostly just tired by this point. I could hardly get mad, as our flight had been cancelled due to mechanical troubles. I’d rather that than a crash.

There we were, anxiously awaiting our 8pm flight… and the unthinkable happened. Our f*cking flight was f*cking delayed. I just about lost my damn mind. I actually exclaimed quite loudly, for f*ck’s sake! It’s ok, by that point the only people left in the lounge were the fellow failed travelers from 2-3 delayed flights.

No reason was given why the flight was delayed. A 9pm flight would get us in to Hartford, Connecticut at about 11pm. It was time to start worrying about the car rental. Apparently the place we rented our car from closed earlier than the others. And so Brent began his epic (horrible) journey through a maze of phone calls trying to rectify the unforeseeable situation. First he was told that if we came to pick up the car the next day they would charge us as if it was a new rental, i.e.: charge us all over again. He tried to get them to transfer the purchase to another rental owned by the same head company. Budget and Avis were open later. Nope, that did not work. He tried to get a refund in full. No-go either. After 16 phone calls, countless “can I speak with your supervisor?”s, over an hour later: we finally had a solution. A nice lady who works at Payless Car Rentals, would leave a note on the counter explaining our situation and that we would be picking up our car the next day. The lady sitting across from us said it was like watching an episode of Seinfeld. I had no idea what she was talking about. They had rented from Enterprise and within minutes they had resolved their being-late-to-pick-up-rental-car problem.

While Brent was lost in a vortex of inept customer service reps, I got called to the Air Canada customer service desk. I had just been there inquiring about whether or not they would reimburse us for the fees incurred due to the delay (he had been dealing with a very angry lady, and so he shot me down and just gave me a card with a number to call). Turns out they called me back to give us another $10 food voucher each. Brent was sad he had missed it, he had wanted to rip his up in front of the counter.

During all that drama our flight got delayed yet again. This time we were told 11:45pm. When I was picking up the food vouchers I asked the guy whether or not this was another lie. Was the plane actually going to be here? Turns out the delay was because there were not enough propeller planes to go around. Apparently our plane had flown some people (from another delayed/cancelled flight) down to Harrisburg, was coming back to pick us up and finally fly us down to Connecticut. He said that unless something happened to the plane, we were set. I had trouble believing him. Thanks to Air Canada I developed some deep trust issues.

The lady from the Great Canadian Bagel walked through the lounge doing a last call. I figured I might as well get $10 worth of snacks, why not. And so we were stuck there, like sitting ducks, trapped in the lounge. For a while we were there with the Indianapolis people, until their gate got moved. Then it was just us. The Hartford Stragglers and a few Air Canada employees. I no longer cared, I put my feet up and stretched out for a nap. Brent had tried to nap, but he gave up quickly. I did manage to snap a picture of him napping and I posted it to Instagram with the whole story and many hilarious hashtags. It made me feel better, if only for a few minutes. Walking to the bathroom I passed by some of the other Hartford Stragglers. I overheard that the 8am flight had also been cancelled due to mechanical delays. Some people had been here since 6am! It made our 13 hours in the airport seem like a cakewalk.

When we got word that the airplane had landed, we tried to book a hotel room at the Hartford Airport. There was no way we would make it to our hotel in New York state. We were unsure if the booking had gone through, but I was far too tired to care. We’d find out when we got there. I was just happy to finally be boarding the damn plane. A 1hr 40min flight took us 13hr15mins and that is just to the point of boarding the plane.

As we got on the plane I snapped a quick picture of Brent. The first officer asked if I wanted my picture taken, but after 13 hours in an airport, I was in no condition to appear in photographs. Because we were flying on such a short route, we were on a small propeller plane. It made me really nervous, add in the fact that this crew had just flown people to Harrisburg and then more people from there to Toronto and were to fly again? Add in the fact that we had recently started watching Lost, and I was much more nervous than usual. Thankfully the first officer was so nice and charming, it reassured me for some reason.

I managed to get in a good nap on the flight. I was so tired that the white noise of the plane was reinterpreted by my brain as a podcast. In my dazed half-sleep I was very confused as to why I was listening to podcasts when I was trying to sleep. We landed at 1:30am, exhausted and desperate for sleep. I just wanted the day to be over. Thankfully the Sheraton was connected to the airport so we did not have to fuss with a shuttle. We were in bed and asleep by 2am. Our flight was originally supposed to land at 2pm.

UPDATES: turns out Air Canada had emailed Brent a new itinerary, we were supposed to fly to Montreal and from there fly to Hartford, CT. Somehow this information was not in the system? Not shared with the Air Canada customer service reps or input into the system?

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