Forget December 23 as the worst travel day…!

I forgot that I had blogged about the same thing around this time last year – I am consistent if nothing!

This past Christmas/New Year holiday, I head home on Christmas Eve on the red eye. It wasn’t exactly my desired date to leave as I would get into Halifax around 11:00 a.m. and felt bad about arriving partway during Christmas Day. However it gave me a chance to enjoy a fun dinner with the extended in-laws at Happy Family [Yelp], a great and underrated find – I wouldn’t mind more of the exact same steamed fish and pan-fried chicken on sticky rice but I digress. NPY and I sat with at the “Adult Table” for once and, frankly, I think it was a bit more fun. The “Kids” are kind of diverging and interests don’t really match up as much. The older crew have mellowed and realize what we all have in common and sometimes left me and NPY alone, too.

It was weird to work on Christmas Eve because the next day being Christmas feels surreal to me. And to be in a different city the next day feels even more odd. I learned that travel on Christmas Eve-into-Christmas Day was really chill. At midnight PST, the Air Canada captain wished us a merry Christmas and with our complimentary beverage, we were each given a red Lindor chocolate (which I stored in my coat pocket and it melted and leaked out of the paper wrapping!!

On December 31, my mum and I set out for Toronto and took Porter (her first time). The Billy Bishop Airport Tunnel Project couldn’t be completed soon enough and I admired the renderings while we waited ad nauseum for the ferry. I am so pleased with the Chinese limo we call in Toronto that charged us the same rate from the downtown airport all the way up to Richmond Hill as it did two years ago when I last used it and took it from my downtown apartment to Pearson.

So, the actual worst travel date of the year in my recent experience, is that Sunday after New Year’s Day, the last day to get home after the holidays to get back to school/work.

Last year, mum was on a direct Toronto-Halifax flight that got diverted to Montreal and then stranded the passengers for two nights. It was nearly as bad this year.

Lil Sis and I dropped mum off for her 9 a.m. flight at 7:30 (made better time downtown from Richmond Hill than we anticipated) and it was raining heavily and we didn’t think anything of it, like checking if her flight had been delayed. Instead, we skipped off to have breakfast after which we would recuperate and take a nap – that was an early wake-up for the airport run!

I didn’t know the rather extreme 10-province (i.e., all of Canada’s provinces) weather alert was still in effect two days later.

Mum SMS’ed me at 2:15 telling me to let my father (who had already been at airport in Halifax for 1.5 hours) that she was on her flight and headed back. We hadn’t thought until then that she had been so delayed and I had napped from noon through receiving the SMS. :P I held off on on letting contacting my father and pulled up the Montreal (since mum’s was a flight connecting in Montreal) and Halifax airport departure and arrival boards and Porter Airlines’ flight status tool. Flights out of Montreal to anywhere and into Halifax from anywhere all day had been cancelled or delayed – what a mess! I also checked the Pearson departures for good measure for my own flight later that night. Mine was still good

Despite mum’s SMS to me, there was no indication for another hour that her flight had actually departed Montreal and thus an updated arrival time in Halifax was posted. When one came up, I called my father on his cell and I felt so bad because it was freezing raining in Halifax and he had been at the airport for 2.5 hours, napping at passenger pick-up (fortunately they weren’t making him leave and it was because the airport was intermittently closed and few flights were coming and going) and driving over to the nearby Tim Hortons to break things up.

Thereby followed the most confusing updates from all three sources where the arrival time kept getting pushed back by 30 minutes such that it seemed that mum’s flight hadn’t really left Montreal. Then it disappeared from Montreal’s boards altogether. Lil Sis, her boyfriend and I went for dinner and wrapped up with just enough time to hustle to the airport through heavy rain and I dropped off my baggage four minutes before the cut-off time. In the car, I checked the Halifax arrivals boards and mum’s arrival was pushed back nearly three hours and was it for real finally?? For the first time in five border-crossings and airport security situations, I used my Nexus to jump the line but our screening line was all bungled up and malfunctioning and the fellow behind me grumbled that it was no faster (read: we’re just as held up with Nexus as the blokes without it).

Then I had a moment to figure it out. Whenever it was the flight did leave Montreal, it got diverted to Gander, NL! There, they were supposed to wait an hour for a regularly scheduled Gander-Halifax flight so I told my father to go home and wait for mum to actually get to the airport and call him. She still had to wait for checked luggage anyhow. The Gander flight was delayed for another hour and it took 14 hours for mum to reach her destination on what was scheduled to be a 3.5 hour connecting flight!

This tweet was pre-mature about the extent of mum’s flight delays, and the notion of Montreal one big skating rink is kind of picturesque.

Meanwhile, my “On Time” status flight wasn’t budging from the gate and we had to go through de-icing and then we sat that the facility for a while. While Toronto and Vancouver weren’t so hard hit by weather, other flights to destinations in the other direction or in between were mucking up the schedule and the captain informed us that within 10 minutes, our designated runway had been changed three times. Just 1.5 hours later, we actually departed and that is the saga of my mum’s and my traveling day!

On this day..