I wondered why I had been so nervous before leaving.
Turns out the travel gremlins were out to get me! Getting on a plane by my lonesome was not so easy for a newbie solo traveller such as my middle-aged self. Not being able to print a boarding pass at home prior (nor at the airport upon arriving there) was a wee premonition of things to come. I arrived at the airport in plenty of time, but driving into the wrong parking lot and having to call someone to guide me to the right spot really set me back.
My itinerary (which had been changed by the booking agent weeks before) read that my flight was with Air Canada. Underneath in small letters it said ‘operated by United Airlines. I had no idea what that meant, and being a bit bleary eyed (at 4 am) and out of breath in a bustling room bursting with hurried travellers, I stood forever in what was surely the right line (according to someone I had asked)…. Wrong!
Run, quick! Find the kiosk for United Airlines at the other end of the building was the advice. Waiting again, only not as long this time and my pass was finally issued. “Quick, run to the security check” they said as they nudged me in the right direction…. all goes well through security, pat down and all. Then hurry and get in line for US customs. Phew…. the clock is ticking but I think it might work out ok. Flight leaves at 6 am and it is now 5 am. Panic may not be necessary. Next thing I know, an officer scans my passport again and tells me it is invalid. What??!!
Ready to faint, I envision showing up at home later that morning having missed my flight. Five minutes later the officer says their information was incorrect. I am ok. Except the lineup for US Customs is 7 rows long with only 4 agents open. The longest hour in my recent memory slowly crawls by……. Finally… the customs agent asks how I am and I can barely utter an ok because my throat is so dry and I have to use the wash room fairly urgently at that point. He looks at me a bit crosseyed and asks where I am going and what I am doing. Good thing he seemed to be a nice guy in a decent mood.
It is quite a distance to the gate after customs when you are late. Almost breathless, I run as best as I can with all of my luggage and coat dragging behind me, thankful that I at least packed fairly light. It is after 6 am. The plane should be leaving. I notice that I haven’t heard a final boarding call which might be a good sign that I will still make it. But of course, my assigned gate is at the very end of the airport. I felt better seeing that there were quite a number of other ticket holders waiting to board. I will make it!!
After speaking to the agent, she tells me that I don’t yet have a seat and asks me to step aside and wait. A bit deflated, I think, ‘What next’?? She tells me after everyone else is on board that it is lucky for us that the Captain was late. By this time this whole situation is quite laughable. I was the last passenger to board the plane. But at least I made it. I figure that I got all of the travel gremlins taken care of in one swoop. The rest of the trip will be a breeze!