Sunday, June 13, 2010

Vancouver to Halifax: The Final Day

I'm not sure why, but since I've started flying around the world, I can make it to my destination without much trouble, but on the way back I always have a terrible time making it home without some series of issues making the trip difficult, no matter how well I try to prepare in advance.

The night before I left, this time, I had set my alarm and packed my bag so that I would be able to easily walk to the Skytrain station and get to the airport on time. I don't typically pack my things the night before a flight, but it was a good thing I did, because it turned out that once again I had forgot to turn on the actual alarm, and so I woke up an hour later than planned.

I quickly showered and grabbed my bags. I hadn't wanted to call a cab, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and so I was forced to part with $30 to make my flight. It was all for naught though, as my flight was delayed by half an hour, meaning I would likely have been able to reach the airport by Skytrain anyway. At least I was able to buy some breakfast.

I had booked this flight three months in advance, which turned out to be a fortuitous move since the Boeing 767 booked for the flight was sold out and filled to capacity. The plane - the widest I've ever seen - had three seats even on the side aisles, so I still had to sit in the middle of two people.

Fortunately though, my neighbours were quite interesting. The man on my left worked with Universities and Colleges around the country to help develop accounting textbooks for CASB. The man on my right was a Sea King helicopter pilot for Canada's Navy, who told me that every Sea King helicopter flies with a crew of 17 (6 to operate the helicopter, and 11 mechanics to fix it when it breaks down).

When I arrived in Toronto's Pearson Airport, I thought I had a two hour break before my next flight. I sat down to have some supper and read some of my book, but I had misread the time of my next flight on my ticket on the plane, and by the time I noticed I was already late.

To compound matters, Pearson Airport is one of the worst organized airports in Canada, and I could not find an arrivals/departure board until I had accidentally walked out of the main terminal. When I realised that my flight was actually in fifteen minutes I tried to rush to gate 148, but found that in order to go back in through the sliding doors I had just left, I would have to go through security again.

I ran around frantically trying to find gate 148, and was directed in the "right" direction by an airport agent. I ran to the end of the hallway, but couldn't find any number higher than 145. At this point I found the following sign (below), and resigned myself to rescheduling my flight.

At this point I really needed to call my "ride" in Halifax, because he would be waiting at the airport without knowing what had happened to me. I tried 6 different Bell-Aliant pay phones, but none of them would let me connect to Halifax (they'd take my credit card though). I then tried a Bell High Speed Internet station, but that was so slow it cost me $4.05 and was only able to load three pages in ten minutes. The Bell Internet kiosk was so slow it could not even let me reach the e-mail composition page, and so after all of that I remained thwarted in my attempt to reach my friend by Bell Canada's simply awful service.

Considering I had heard a story from someone in Ottawa, who had his mobile phone broken by a sms message sent to him from Bell, who would later refuse to fix his phone, and that I would later come across a Bell payphone in Halifax that would not accept any coins of any size or denomination, I am forced to conclude that Bell Canada is the worst phone/Internet provider in the world. But I digress...

Somewhere over New Brunswick, on my new flight, I was approached by my plane's operations manager who told me that there had been a problem, and that someone in luggage at Pearson Airport thought that I was on my original flight, and so my bag had been placed on that plane. When it was realized that I was not on the plane, my bag was taken off, but had not made it on my new flight. This meant that my bag was actually four hours behind me, somewhere back in Toronto.

When I reached the Halifax airport, Air Canada gave me a blue canvas bag with a new toothbrush, tube of toothpaste, clean shirt, and many other toiletry items to make up for my luggage mix-up. The only bright point in all of this was Air Canada's continued above-average customer service. Remember, Air Canada good, Bell-Aliant/Pearson Airport baaaaad.

Eventually, after another cab ride, this one $60, I made it to my hostel and was finally able to rest... for one night at least.

While this marks the end 0f my incredible cross-Canada adventure, it is also the beginning of my search for a job, and an apartment. When I satisfy both requirements for Halifax living, I will embark on my next project: a two to three year exploration of Nova Scotia, in which I attempt to visit every point of interest possible.

Thank you for joining me on this most excellent adventure, and please visit me often at my new blog, Ea-pea Dave's Terra Nova, whenever you'd like to feel that you too are in New Scotland.

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