Are we there yet? Part II

Welcome back! When we left our heroes they we were at baggage claim at Toronto Pearson Airport.

After we claimed our mostly unharmed baggage we made our way through the airport to the attached airport hotel.

It’s our turn to check in and the clerk flips through our paper work and after fumbling around a bit he informs my mom that we don’t have enough vouchers. My mom explains that the airline clerk said “it would be fine”, but he assured us that it was not in fact fine. Since we’re already exhausted and just want a place to put our bags, have lunch and relax, we thought maybe he could just call down to the airline desk (the hotel is attached to the airport after all) and clear up this misunderstanding.

Nope. Why not? Because  he’d have to call the airline phone number that you and I call and wait on hold with everyone else. REALLY?! This seems like an easy problem to solve. Just give the hotel front desk clerks the extension for the airline hotel reservation desk. YOU’RE WELCOME!

So after my mom goes back and forth to get another voucher so that all seven of us could sleep in the hotel (imagine!) the hotel assigns our rooms. He also hands out meal vouchers. Thankfully the airline had indicated for us to receive vouchers for lunch, dinner and breakfast since it was still before noon when we landed in Toronto. And what do those vouchers add up to?

Wait for it…

$32 each. (Except Harrison. He had to pay for a ticket, but he doesn’t get a voucher).

Let me break it down for you. That’s $7 for breakfast, $10 for lunch and $15 for dinner. And of course they’re only valid for the hotel restaurant. Which makes sense actually since where else are you going to go? You’re stranded.

Seems reasonable enough, until you remember that Toronto is one of the most expensive cities in North America and you glance over at the menu. You’re $7 breakfast voucher doesn’t get you very far when a cup of tea costs $7.50.

After another long wait at the hotel desk we finally had our rooms assigned (correctly) and our meal vouchers distributed. So we headed up to our rooms and put our baggage down, and Rolly and I got Harrison settled and fed.

By this time its almost 2 o’clock and we’re all starving. We have a snack and a couple rounds of much-needed, well-earned, beer. And the tab for our drinks and appetizers comes to $187! Yeah… that’s how expensive this place was. After paying the bill the waitress tells us that we can’t use our vouchers for alcohol. Okay, that’s not too surprising. That’s a pretty common policy. (Why it matters to the airline or the hotel how we use our vouchers is beyond me, but that’s the rule). So we sort out our vouchers to make a total that makes sense to pay for the food and settle the rest. We had problems with the vouchers later that night again when they weren’t going to accept our “lunch” voucher for our pizza dinner since it wasn’t lunch. Again… why that would matter is beyond me. (Especially since they took some breakfast and dinner ones as lunch payment earlier).

We all called it an early night, hoping for a better tomorrow. Oh, and did I mention that instead of waking up in paradise for husbandman’s birthday, we woke up in an airport hotel because of this delay? Happy birthday?

Morning comes and we’re feeling optimistic. I guess we figured things couldn’t be worse than they were the day before. But more surprises were ahead of us. Not happy surprises of the birthday variety.

We make our way to the little kiosks to print our boarding passes, and in some strange, well-timed stroke of luck, a very helpful airline employee was looking over Roland’s shoulder and noticed that our boarding passes (on the screen) say “Gated”. Neither of us would’ve even noticed.

He says to us, “That’s not good”.

I don’t know why this surprised me, but it did.

Turns out, that GUARANTEED AND PROTECTED doesn’t mean anything at all, and now all seven of us are actually on standby on the only flight that leaves for Puerto Vallarta that day.

At this point I seriously can’t believe this is happening. After a lot of discussion, a taking-it-to-the-next-level-administrator, a check-in agent sending my parents and brother and sister-in-laws bags down the wrong chute with the wrong baggage tags, some problem solving and quite a bit of “I can’t believe this is happening again” on our part, we’re told to print our standby passes, and check our bags and go to the gate and talk to the gate agent when they arrive and hopefully there’ll be room on the flight.

In some kind of birthday miracle that airline employee was looking over our shoulder. If he hadn’t noticed that we were gated, we would’ve gotten our boarding passes, walked to the gate, and prepared to board the plane only to find out that we weren’t on it. And be stranded another day.

And Roland must’ve worked a little more birthday magic because when the gate agent arrived we went up to talk to her and we were all able to get on the flight. Phew! We were on our way to Mexico at last!

As you know, we had a blast once we got there. We celebrated husbandman’s birthday, New Year’s Eve, and Harrison’s 10 month-aversary.

Our unbelievable story of how we got to Mexico really happened and we lived to tell the tale.

We made it home safe and sound and arrived back in Ottawa on a snowy night slightly behind schedule at about 1:30 am. Tired and ready to hit the road, we sent Roland and my brother in a cab to pick up the cars (of course the hotel shuttle doesn’t run that late) so the rest of us could stay warm and stay put while they dig out the cars and drive over.

I decided to play lookout since the guys wouldn’t be able to leave the cars once they pulled up. After 10 minutes or so I see our car pulling around so I pop my head outside just to make sure they know where to stop, but as I head outdoors I see my brother headed towards me. I was confused. Why did he leave his car running in the pick up area? You’re not allowed to do that!

But it turns out he didn’t leave his car running. The little bow on top of our crazy trip, just to round things out, is that on that dark and cold and stormy night my brother’s car wouldn’t start.

TRUE STORY.

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