Well, we finally made it Down Under, but let’s just say it wasn’t exactly uneventful. We were up at 6:00 AM, needing to do umpteen things prior to our afternoon flight. Flying from BWI to Toronto on Air Canada on a Havilland Dash propeller plane was uneventful, as was our brief layover.
Our cross-country flight to Vancouver was quite pleasant, mostly due to a terrific flight crew who were collectively attentive and engaging. Then we descended into Vancouver International, precisely at the same moment that a large bird decided to greet us, a bit too enthusiastically. Pop! and there went one of our engines. We landed safely, but after waiting until 3:00 AM (east coast time), we were informed that the engine was too badly damaged to continue on.
Air Canada was wonderful in terms of keeping us constantly informed. Once the decision was made to cancel, they pulled in resources to get us processed. Unfortunately, we had to go up and down escalators and walk across the airport to reclaim our luggage, go back to ticketing, get re-ticketed for a morning flight, receive our hotel, taxi and meal vouchers and try to grab a few hours sleep.
We were back in the airport at 8:30 AM. Fortunately for me, my wife is absolutely the best travel companion, so we tend to look at these travel hiccups as part of the adventure. And, sure enough, our gate agent that morning was Francis, a supervisor who has helped me before in transit through Vancouver. We greeted each other with smiles and a handshake, he gave us another meal voucher and we traded email contact info. I’ll probably see him again when I head up to the Yukon this February (brrrr!!) to shoot the Quest dogsled race. And that’s the thing I’d like to focus on in this blog; how having a mindset that looks at every travel challenge as an opportunity is really the only way to go.
All around us during this delay we saw several truly unhappy people. Not that I fault them. Delays, when you’re already tired and stressed from air travel, is no fun. But, what is, is. You can’t change these things, so just go with the flow. Look around; make a friend; reach out; trade business cards, talk about your respective kids, whatever. Being miserable is a choice.
Now here’s the next opportunity for us. Vancouver happens to be one of my favorite airports. It’s light and airy. It has free Wifi. There are so many eateries I always have a hard time choosing and they’re spread out so that you don’t feel as if you are at a mall. You can choose to eat around crowds, or find a nice private spot, you can do fast food or sit down at a restaurant.
Best of all, Vancouver airport has lots of wonderful educational opportunities. Sprinkled throughout are exhibits of the region’s natural history. There are sculptures and exhibits about indigenous peoples. So there we were, tired and hungry, walking to our gate, when we came upon a huge, two-story vertical aquarium that I hadn’t seen before. Surprise! We stopped and watched the exhibit of local fish, anemones, starfish, kelp and sea urchins. What a rejuvenating experience, one we would not have had if our plane had not been delayed. We had a snack, watching people watching the aquarium display.
In my next blog I’ll share some first impressions about Australia.