We decided to go because my daughter is working there in one of the ski resorts for the Canadian winter and my husband’s family live there. I have never yet them and his dad is getting older – sadly his mother died two years ago without me seeing her. I felt it important for him to make a trip out there one last time to see his dad. My father’s death has made me realise that our parents are coming to that time in their life. Also, I have an expectation that there will never be an ideally right time for us to go. The economy isnt brilliant right now and my husband could lose his job (they are laying people off at his work) but if he does lose his job we never go. Plus, he might die. I face that fear often, being married to man with a dodgy heart. I want to share the experience of a country I’ve I’ve always wanted to visit in the company of a man I love, who happened to grow up there.
So we booked flights. Actually, I left it up to him to book flights and was then appalled to discover that he, in conjunction with the travel agent, had managed to book us with extremely tight connections. All I asked was no connections through LA. So I didn’t get that. Instead I got Perth to HK to Vancouver to Calgary. With a 50 minute window to change flights in Hong Kong and a two hour one in Vancouver.
“Do you know me at all?” I fumed to my husband. “What part of you thought it could be a good idea to sit next to me for eight hours as I fret over whether or not we catch the next leg of the trip?”
He assured me that both the travel agent and Cathay Pacific had assured him it could be done and he had done it himself in the past, around fifteen years ago. Foolish man. Oh well, I didn’t have to sit next to me but it was going to be a long flight for him.
I love the online checkin you can do these days. We did the first two legs the night before and the last leg when we dropped off our bags at flight departure. On Friday morning the airport guy printed out our boarding passes for all three legs and apologised that he wasn’t able to get us seats together for the last leg (only an hour) but assured me we could change it in Vancouver when we dropped our bags – we had to clear customs and immigration there anyway but we were checked through to there so didn’t have to pick up luggage in HK.
8 and half hours to Hong Kong. Our next boarding cards said helpfully “if you aren’t at departure gate twenty minutes before departure you may not make the flight”. We were arriving at gate 1 and departing from gate 49. Changi airport is huge. You take a train to get from one end to another. And even transit passengers have to clear security again. We bolted off the plane and ran, literally ran. We wouldn’t have made it except there were about ten other passengers doing the same thing and they herded us together and held the flight for us. Yes, we were those late arseholes who held up the plane, and panted into their seats, under the resentful gaze of other passengers.
And forty minutes late there meant forty minutes late into Vancouver. There was a headwind as well. It all cut into our timing. Added to a huge immigration queue and a big security line for connecting flights and it looked like we would miss our last connection. The airline people didn’t want to help but my husband had the bright idea of asking a baggage handler if there was another security scanner and was told there was a downstairs one. We ducked through illegal aircraft ways, down back entrances and begged the front desk staff. They threw special stickers on our boarding cards and we fast tracked our way through the second security scanners and ran. I was exhausted, needed to use the facilties, was thirsty, my back hurt and my husband kept not waiting for me. Petulant and whiny sums up my mood at that time and it wasn’t improving.
Eventually we got to our gate just as the last rows were boarding. There was a little girl there having a spectacular three year old tantrum: back arched, red-faced, screaming. I said to my husbnd “That’s exactly how I feel and I am two seconds away from joining her.”
We never had time to change our seats and we were so lucky that we already had our boarding passes. An awful lot of people got to fly standby on that Calgary flight becuse the people who already had tickets missed their connection. My husband was really glad we weren’t sitting together by this stage, I think! He did buy me a whisky and send it back down the plane but we both declined to switch seats and join each other when several kind passengers offered, on it becoming apparent we were together!
So, to sum it up: 23 actual hours flying time, around 28 hours altogether in airports (adding in sitting on tarmac and circling in the
air waiting to land) and I slept for maybe 20 minutes and got to run off the threatening thrombotic clots twice. Next time a minimum of three hours bewteen connecting flights, thank you very much.
Oh, and it was still Friday when we landed.