We have successfully arrived in Quito, but the getting here was quite a stressful ordeal. Winter flying is rarely a pleasant experience, and yesterday was no exception. We had a very early flight from Edmonton, so wakeup was a 4am. That means I had to operate on 4 hours of sleep, since we had a symphony concert the night before, followed by me being a bit too woundup to go straight to sleep.
The delays began early. Boarding started as expected, but the lineup quickly stopped moving – the people at the front of line were being stopped at the plane end of the tunnel. The gate people then told everyone to sit back down, boarding was delayed, as the de-icing fluid was frozen…a more concentrated batch of anti-freeze had to be whipped up before we could get underway. That was only about 15 minutes, and then we boarded the flight, still enough time left to get going on time.
When the door was closed and we were ready for pushback, the second delay arrived. It felt like they started to push, but the plane went nowhere. It took about 5 minutes for an explanation to be given – the brakes were frozen, and the plane wouldn’t move, maintenance was on its way. This was by far the worst of the delays, since it involved sitting for about 45 minutes while they thawed out the brakes. We finally got underway about an hour and 10 minutes late.
This was a problem, since we only had an hour and 40 minutes layover in Toronto. If we missed that flight, the next one would be on Monday. I spent the whole flight on edge, since this left no room for error. Luckily, the winds were in our favour, and we made up a lot of time in the air. We got to the gate only about a half hour late.
But we weren’t done yet. We arrived at the gate in Toronto in time for the third delay. The tunnel wouldn’t extend, and we had to wait for airport maintenace to get it working again. This turned out to be another 15 minutes or so. We got off the plane at last with an hour to go before our next flight. The walk was surprisingly long, considering both flights were in the same terminal, and by the time we got to our departure gate there was a lineup. Thank goodness for moving sidewalks!
That was the last of the delays, though, and everything went smoothly from there. Transferring in Bogota was a little complicated, since I had two separate tickets – a result of using points for this trip – so I was told to get to the checkin desk on the other side of immigration. Kathy’s ticket was booked in cash, so she could follow the international connections line. Since my bag was checked on Kathy’s ticket, the Air Canada gate agent was able to really come through for me, though, as she went past immigration and got my boarding pass while I waited in the immigration line. I could then duck out of line and continue with the international connection the same as Kathy.
In all, our flying adventures ended happily, as we’ve now arrived in Quito. No harm done, just a lot of stress. I think for future winter trips, we will try to focus on places with non-stop flights. Then delays just mean you get there late, there’s not the risk of scrubbing a good chunk of your holiday from a missed connection.
On another note, we’d like to post links to our photos. Some will appear on the blog, but the full collection will eventually be on Flickr. Not sure how many we’ll upload while we’re here.
-For the record, despite me being the more highstrung and stressed of the two of us most of the time, I was remarkably less stressed than Neil yesterday. I think I was too tired! Also, I don’t think I’d make a very good solo traveller – the 20 or so minutes I was left on my own in the Bogota airport was enough for one trip. I think I’m a bit of a chicken. :-p
Tags: Around Canada, delays, Ecuador, flying, winter