Thursday, December 21, 2006

17 hours later

As long as the storms hold off, I'll be settled in at my in-laws this time tomorrow with my Thursday shopping trips... already planned.
Famous last words.

Now to be fair, I am writing this from my in-laws'. I did sleep in their guest room last night. So we did, at least, accomplish our main goal for yesterday. But it came close to not happening at all and required many, maaaany more airports and hours of travel than we had ever expected.

We were supposed to fly through Denver on Wednesday with a connection to our final destination. We were excited to be trying a new route that would get us into the small airport closest to Scooter's grandparents, cutting out the hour-plus drive from the airport which most airlines use to get to this area.

When we went to bed Tuesday night, it looked like the snow might peter out and fall short of the snow advisory and warning we'd seen online. And indeed, Wednesday morning found the snow warning cancelled--with a blizzard warning in its place. We decided to head to Pearson anyway, a few alternates forming as we went.

At check-in, all of our flights still showed "on time", but Trillian asked our agent about other routes, including to nearby airports. He was wonderfully helpful and tried all sorts of combinations. He could get us to one of airline's other hubs on Wednesday or Thursday without any trouble, but there were no seats from them to our final destination for days. We could fly standby, which would have meant spending days at the airport waiting to see if a flight managed to have 3 unexpected openings. During the holidays. When thousands of other people would be hoping to do the same thing. We decided to check in and hope we'd make it in and out of Denver before they closed the airport.

45 minutes before our flight was due to leave, it was cancelled. No flights allowed into Denver after 1pm. The Denver airport would be closing. Denver was basically closed. The airline would be happy to try to find alternate routes, although those passengers who had been headed to Denver as their final destination would just have to wait until the airport reopened (Friday at noon, they're now saying--at the earliest). We just needed to get our baggage and then they'd be happy to figure things out for us. Except Trillian and I already knew that, with the holiday traffic, there probably wouldn't be any seats to our destination until after Christmas. She got on the phone to her parents to let them know what was happening and to set Plan B into motion. I went to get our bags, leaving Scooter and our carry-ons with Trillian so I could get maneuver more quickly.

While I waited for our bags--which took a while since they first couldn't get the conveyor going and then had the wrong flight's bags--Trillian got everything sorted. As soon as I met up with her and Scooter, we headed to the car, vouchers from our original airline and new travel itinerary on Southwest in hand. New destination: the Buffalo airport.

Luckily there was very little traffic and the border crossing, even though it was backed up, took less than half an hour. We even had time to stop at a chain restaurant to eat a full meal so that we wouldn't have to rely on airport food. There was even a Starbucks next door so that Trillian could get her gingerbread latte fix. Once in the airport, we stopped at the play area and let Scooter shake out the kinks after the drive. It was, of course, past his nap time, but he refused to settle down for a nap.

Our first flight included a stop in the middle. Scooter slept during our descent and woke up when I picked him up (gently, I swear). Then a switch of planes. Then we finally arrived to our destination, more or less--the larger nearby airport. After the hour-plus drive, we finally made it. For about 10 minutes, Scooter was torn between the over-stimulation of being at his grandparents' house and complete exhaustion. A memorable quote: "I want to play trains, I want to sit at table [a play table], I want to sleep." He fell asleep within 5 minutes of getting into bed and having everything arranged to his liking.

So the numbers for this trip:
8:00 am = time we left our apartment
1:00 am = time (in Toronto) when we got to the grandparents' house
1 = flights cancelled
5 = airports we went to (though we didn't get off the plane at the 3rd one)
3 = times we had to go through security
2 = times we went through customs
15 = minutes Scooter slept between 7:30 am Wednesday and 1:15 am Thursday.
1 = child who is ecstatic to be at Grandma and Grandpa's


cinnamon gurl said...

Yowsers, what a nightmare! Glad you're there safely and finally. Enjoy.

jen said...

wow. it's true, denver crippled the nation's travel yesterday. i am so sorry you got caught up in it.

glad you are safe and warm.

metro mama said...

Glad you made it! Happy Holidays!

Sandra said...

Whoa ... that sounds like one hell of a trip. Here's hoping the rest of your holiday visit is more relaxing. Happy Holidays to you!

Mouse said...

Taking a quick break from my studying to peek in. Now that we're here, we're settling in and getting excited about the holidays.

Scooter and Trillian are off to pick up her brother from the train station--he too was supposed to fly through Denver and the train ended up being the only option available to him if he wanted to get here before Tuesday. He'll have been on the train something like 17 hours too.

I'm very thankful that we were able to get alternate arrangements made and that we have the financial ability to afford the extra tickets. But I'm keeping my fingers crossed we don't have a similar return trip next week!