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The journey that was July 29, 2008

Posted by April Ayres-Griffiths in Uncategorized.
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In what now counts as our longest commute in history, we finally arrived in Langford at about midnight on the 15th. 

Before we even got off the ground, our flight was delayed by almost four hours leaving Melbourne Airport, as it was late leaving LAX previously, and that delay carried through. This meant that we had already lost our connecting flight and we were told that arrangements would be made at the other end. Qantas gave us a meal voucher so that we could get some breakfast and apologized for the delay.

After about four hours in the air, one of the passengers took ill, and we were advised that we were to make an emergency landing in Fiji in the middle of the night, about one hours flight in the previous direction. We landed at the airport in Nadi, and Fijian paramedics boarded the plane to assist with the stricken passenger. While this was happening, we were refueling, as the plane had expended extra fuel during its detour. 

After what seemed like an age, the plane was refueled, but we were unable to depart due to security rules as they had been unable to easily locate the passengers luggage, and ended up having to unload all the luggage to more easily search for the missing bags. Eventually we were in the air again, but another 3 to 4 hours behind schedule.

We flew faster to try and make up time to LAX, but we didn’t arrive until about ten minutes to two in the afternoon, a full six and a half hours after our scheduled arrival time. Because of the lateness of our arrival, there wasn’t a proper arrival gate available and we ended up berthed at one of the departure gates. We were escorted out across the tarmac (and under the wing of our 747-400) by armed TSA officers and onto a series of buses which deposited us at the regular arrivals area. 

Thankfully immigration processed us quickly (special priority was being given to our flight) and then we had to collect our baggage, and queue up to find out what our new connecting flights were. As far as we knew we had missed the last flight to Vancouver, but thankfully it turned out there was a 4:44 flight we had been rebooked onto. 

Next we had to go through American customs, which would not normally happen, but since our connecting flights were lost, we would have to check our luggage into the new flight manually. Customs cleared our bags, and we proceeded to the Domestic terminal to check into our new flight. We got the dreaded “SSSS” on our tickets and were subjected to additional security screenings. This was fine, but took forever for me, as they pulled everything out of my carry on luggage and swabbed it for traces of banned substances. Eventually we made it to the departure lounge with about half an hour before our flight left.

The flight to Vancouver was fairly uneventful, although at one point we flew over the top of Mount Baker, which looked absolutely amazing. We came in for landing hot at Vancouver, which was a little unnerving. Apparently airlines are doing this to save fuel, but it made us very nervous. 

We raced through the airport towards Immigration and Customs as if we were on “The Amazing Race”, as we had a very limited window in which to catch the bus to the Ferry. Unfortunately due to a hold up waiting for our baggage, we missed the bus (the last for the evening), and instead ran to the Taxi rank, where we hailed a cab and got him to get us to the Ferry terminal in time for the last Ferry. The driver obliged, and made record time, getting us to the terminal a full half hour before departure.

On the ferry, like the victims of airline food that we were, we ordered lavish helpings of food from the cafeteria. At about 10:30pm, we made it to Swartz bay, and Melody’s father and brother were waiting for us in the arrival lounge. Another hours journey, and we were back at our Canadian home.

Thankfully, gidget (our cat) forgave us quickly for being away.

It’s been a few difficult nights sleep for us as we fight jet lag, but things are returning to normal. Early next week we plan to go camping for a while, and I will get to see the Rocky mountains. 

After some trepidation, it is good to be back…

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