I am en route from Regina to Boston. My flight from Regina yesterday morning was relatively uneventful. Traveling during peak season with full planes and all ages is always interesting!
I arrived in Toronto at the same time I was supposed to be boarding my flight to Montreal. A mad dash to domestic flights wing was not necessary. By the time I arrived in the waiting area the departure time had changed. It was moved to 30 minutes later. I checked my boarding pass for the Montreal to Boston leg and worried that I may not make the connection.
I lined up to speak to the customer service agent and was assured that I would definitely make my connection. Reassured I decided to go for a walk. Sitting for 3+ hours on a place is never my favorite thing to do.
I returned to the boarding area after 5 minutes and to my dismay discovered that departure time had been moved by another 30 minutes… The explanation was that a maintenance crew was changing a tire.
I lined up… and at this time the same customer service agent once more assured me that I would catch my connecting flight to Boston as the connecting flight was also delayed. Still on the phone she then began to lower her voice to check if the luggage would be accessible for those that were on international flight could claim their suitcases in case they had to change flights. This was not meant to be overheard…
I returned to walking the halls, weaving in and out between arriving passengers, and those that were performing the same made dash I had exercised 45 minutes earlier. Just watching these travelers raised my heart rate, so I claimed a seat and switched to people watching mode.
Another casual glance at the departure board revealed that my plane was now boarding at the time I was supposed to board originally in Montreal.
I lined up… again… and at that time overheard the customer service agent help two young men in front of me also traveling to the US to switch their flights. Hmmm, hope grew and I moved up to the counter with confidence. My third polite inquiry whether I could also switch flights was denied without an explanation. I was told “Montreal will deal with this. If necessary they will put you up in a hotel over night. Next!”
I was resigned that I would not make it to Boston on August 8th, 2015… a similar situation from the same day last year… where I sat in the Regina Airport secure area for 9 hours before passengers were informed that the flight was not leaving… But I digress! We boarded 2 hours later that the original time and after not only the tire was changed but the emergency lighting had been replaced inside the plane. Apparently a passenger had damaged a section of the electrical cables when removing his/her suitcase from the overhead bin…
Fast forward to 8 pm, we arrive in Montreal in an airplane with maybe 1/3 of the seats filled (I am generous in my estimation) as most other passengers had switched to alternate planes. I made my way to the customer service line up. A couple in obvious distress struck up a conversation sharing that they were on the way to Vancouver to their daughter’s wedding. The plane they were trying to catch was about to leave. I moved aside and let them go ahead. A mom with her young daughter appeared very tired and I let them proceed ahead of me to get settled for the night. I knew I wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon…
Finally it was my turn (it was about 9 pm by now) and I moved up to the counter. The friendly and very pleasant customer service representative was eager to print out a hotel voucher, meal vouchers and the oh so precious boarding pass for my flight to Boston early in the morning. I was about to say thank you when the announcement is made “Sorry, but we have no more hotel rooms.” I thought it was a joke… I smiled and she repeated the sentence adding “I am sorry” at the end.
The alternative offered was: Stay at the airport and find a place to spend the night, fly back to Toronto and try to catch a flight to Boston leaving at midnight, fly to Ottawa where they had hotel rooms and catch a flight at 5 am. Or, check with the Marriott next door if they had rooms. Pay for it myself and then “try to submit the bill to Air Canada – but you should know, they don’t usually pay for the entire bill. But you can try to write a letter to explain and maybe they will pay for the room.” – these were the words of the customer service rep.
I had to laugh… not a happy laugh, definitely a cynical coughing laugh… I opted to stay at the airport. Just as we were wrapping it up another agent comes around the corner. “Do you need a room?” she asked. The service rep nodded and you guessed it, the room was mine!
I made my way to the Marriott… and I felt relief! (In 2009 Air Canada had me spend the night in Winnipeg… not fond memories and it made me stop traveling for teaching during winter months for several years!)
The hotel design made my heart sing…
Thank you to the Marriott at the Montreal Airport! Your beautiful atmosphere and courteous service will always be appreciated! I will give you 5 stars all around!
Air Canada – you have a long way to go before I make you my choice of air travel again!
I better go – my flight is now boarding!!! Have a great Sunday, everyone!