Day 10 was the day that wasn’t supposed to be, we were supposed to be home on day 9. The weather intervened, and we were stranded in Montreal.
- Extra day 1
- decent continental breakfast
- hung out at hotel, played games
- info about flight rescheduled to 3:30 p.m.
- checked out around 12:15, got taxi voucher to airport
Since we didn’t get to bed until 1:00 a.m., it wasn’t surprising we weren’t too quick off the mark the next morning. But the hotel stopped their continental breakfast at 9:30, so A & J headed down just before 9, and I joined around 9:15. Short commute, about 20 steps. And it was pretty dang good. The room had been $180 the night before, and given the circumstances and the proximity to the airport (18 minutes away), that was a pretty good deal. Add in all three of us had breakfast the next morning, and the deal was looking better. Fruit, cereal, some hot choices, multiple juices, toast, etc. Not a bad start to the morning. And we snagged some fruit for later.
We played some games, repacked our suitcases, and tried to figure out what we were doing. We had received an email from Air Canada saying we were booked on a 3:30 flight, and while we would have liked some other options, it was all we had. I had hoped TripCentral would give us info about alternatives, car rentals, connections with Via, nada. I submitted a second ticket through their web portal, including mentioning I wanted to know the process for reimbursement, and I did eventually receive a response that morning. Telling me the process for possible but unlikely reimbursement, and nothing about any other support options. You know who sent me that email? Not the “help line” people, the travel agent. The request was forwarded to her. No wonder I didn’t hear anything the night before. There was no emergency service at all.
We figured we would just suck it up in the end, and just take the flights. Whatever. Just get home. I had talked to the hotel about a late checkout, and they were like, “Yeah, whenever’s good for you.” Definitely like these people.
Finally, around noon, I took the bags down to the lobby and started stacking them near the door. I asked the counter person to order me a taxi, they agreed, and I headed back to get more bags. They told me it would be there soon, and “oh, here is your taxi voucher.” A $26 voucher to pay for our taxi to the airport. Apparently they would have paid the night before if we had booked in advance too. Sweet. Great room, nice save, free breakfast, free taxi back. Honestly, they were the ONLY service people I saw in the time I was in Montreal who were helpful (A dealt with the info people at the airport who were helpful, but I never saw them).
- checked in, no baggage tags again
- check-in counter a disaster, luckily someone helped us
- lunch at St. Hubert
- through security, to gate
We got to the airport, went to the Air Canada kiosks, checked in, and again, the stupid system didn’t print our baggage tags. Again. Spoke to a welcoming agent, she suggested another machine. I mentioned it hadn’t worked in Cancun the day before either, and she said, “Oh, hmm, maybe just go to the desk then.”
Which we tried. And waited. And waited. Someone was on hold helping someone, and they were on the phone for about 20 minutes while we were there. Another desk was supposedly for helping our line, but then they took people from another line that already had two or three agents helping them. WTF? No one was serving our line?
There was a guy ahead of us, and one of the “baggage check” line agents came over, spoke to him, took him over, checked him in, and on he went. I hoped she would do the same for us, but she didn’t. So I gave it another couple of minutes, and honestly, my tolerance for bad service from Air Canada was dropping rapidly. I went over and spoke to her, she was doing nothing, explained that we just needed to check the bags but the machine didn’t work. She hemmed and hawed, said she couldn’t help us, and then while we were waiting, she changed her mind and helped us anyway.
Worked just fine. Someone else arrived to work, and was speaking to the baggage woman, and said she was assigned to the area but not a specific function yet. So the baggage woman insisted she start helping the people in our line unless someone told her otherwise. She was frustrated too! Whoever was in charge was running it like a gong show. We got checked in finally, and we headed to get some lunch. As we passed the lines, the guy was still on the phone with whatever that customer’s problem was, the other three agents were still helping the same people as when we were in line, and the people behind us hadn’t moved. Sheesh.
We grabbed St. Hubert, and I felt like it was manna from heaven. I just wanted simple, no complexity, no service problems, something that worked. Wasn’t perfect, but I got what I ordered and we ate. Went through security, got to our gate.
- flight delayed until 4:00
- flight cancelled, rescheduled to 5:35
Way up at the top of this post, the first entry from our travel diary said “Extra day 1”, and it stressed me out. A didn’t just write “extra day”, she numbered it. Like it was possible there would be a DAY TWO! And honestly, it started to feel that way. We were at the gate, well ahead of time, good to go. They even have these really cool “charging” lockers for e-devices that they’re trying out as demos. We didn’t use it, but it looked really cool. Basically like a little gym locker with three charging cables inside for different types of devices; put in your device, take the key, pick it up again in 30 minutes. Free while they demo it and test it, curious how much it is if it gets rolled out on a larger scale.
And our flight gets delayed. No biggie, but that was how it started the day before. Then it appears to be completely cancelled, but the woman at the gate desk calls “someone” and assures us that it is not cancelled at all, just postponed. It will be updated. So we wait, and the email still says “cancelled”. I check the Air Canada app, clearly cancelled.
The woman has left the area, so I wander down the hall, find an agent, tell him what’s going on, he pulls up our boarding info. Nope, definitely cancelled. We’re now on a 5:35 flight to Ottawa. Except, well, that flight coming in seems to be running late. Might be a bit later. I note there is also a 4:30 flight, but they don’t have room for three on that flight, hence why we’re on the 5:35 flight.
Then we’re rescheduled to 7:00, and this is starting to feel like a very familiar situation. I’ve already tried researching Via options, everything seems sold out, car rentals maybe. I’m willing to consider e-bikes if it gets us moving at this point. I even managed to threaten the TripCentral person with legal recourse enough that she called me, but she was no help whatsoever. So we decided that we were sticking with the plane option. Yet I’m in a booking dilemma.
The 7:00 flight is now a larger plane and coming from somewhere like Calgary where it supposedly left on time (not sure how it left on time if it is pushing the new flight by 90 minutes, but whatever, it’s “on time” and not likely to be delayed further). But there’s a Winnipeg flight coming in and connecting to the 6:30 flight too. And there’s room on that one. Yet one of the reasons it hasn’t been delayed yet is that they haven’t got that far yet, in my view. They’re basically bumping stuff once they are within 90 minutes of the flight time. It isn’t within 90 minutes of the Winnipeg/Ottawa option, so I’m worried they might change it to 8:00 for that one, leaving the 7:00 a better option. Dilemmas, dilemmas. The agent agrees wholeheartedly it’s a total crapshoot at this point. No help at all, but totally honest about it. The flight we were supposed to take had been a connector from Halifax that never even left their terminal, so the idea that a flight was in progress was at least inspiring some confidence. I also felt like if I bumped things around, we might lose track of our luggage, one of the things the agent did confirm when he found out we had checked bags, not just carry-ons.
We stayed the course. 7:00 came. 7:00 went. Not yet on board. Then we were boarding. We actually boarded. We had seats. A bigger plane than usual for the short hop, and as we left the gate (WE WERE MOVING!), they said flying time would be 27 minutes from tarmac to tarmac. Outstanding! But not positive yet.
Then we were IN THE FREAKING AIR. Arrived in Ottawa a short blink of time later, waited normal time for luggage, not too bad, just a little slow, taxi home, carried J over the big snowbank in the driveway and our luggage, and we were home.
Time for J to go to bed, but honestly, I was wired. I threw on warm outer clothes, started the snow blower, and cleared the driveway including the big frozen crusty stuff at the end from the snowplow. The whole time I was out there, I felt like I was DOING something finally. Moving. Not waiting for anyone else to do something. And the neighbours across the road were struggling to break up their snow with plastic shovels, and slowly making progress. But when I finished my driveway, I went over and helped them with theirs. Then I got in the car, drove over and grabbed some take-out for dinner, plus went to the store and bought milk and bread for the morning. And since I was doing that, I bought some fruit and veggies too. I can’t believe how “liberating” it felt to just do something, in part too just because I could do it on my own after 10 days of “group travel” (a stretch for me as an introvert), but mainly just to be TAKING action and making decisions that didn’t involve Air Canada.
28 hours we were stranded in Montreal. Probably about $300 in expenses. Could have been a lot worse, sure, but completely frustrated that Air Canada, Air Canada Vacations and our “support” from the travel agent, TripCentral, completely flaked out on us. Extremely frustrating considering the cost too. I tweeted some comments about it, never heard back. Thought I would at least get a number to call, nope. None of them cared, just as the resort had ignored us too. Our trip wasn’t “ruined”, but it sure killed the travel buzz for our return.