The Longest Shortened Day Ever – A holiday air-travel misadventure

Lost luggage

It’s that time of year again.

Come tomorrow, as the song goes, I’ll be leaving on a jet plane – travelling from sea unto sea to Nova Scotia for my annual Christmas sojourn home.


It’s not that I don’t want to go home or see my family.  Rather, there’s just very little in this world I find more arduous than actually getting there.

I mean, to begin with: airline travel at Christmas.  Airline travel is bad enough during any other time of year, fraught with such indignities as,

  • Having to remove my belt (which, far from being just a fashion accessory, is actually necessary for keeping my pants up),
  • Having my hair patted down for concealed weapons, and,
  • The full-body “I-can-see-you-naked” X-ray scanner.

At Christmas, I get to enjoy all of the above and wait in a long-ass line for it at that, as if eagerly claiming a special prize.

Hell, you have to queue for everything at the airport at Christmas, from buying an overpriced sandwich to washing your hands after going for a pee.

Then there’s the physical distance to my destination.  It’s approximately 6000km from Vancouver, BC to Nova Scotia – that’s at least seven hours of actual flight time, not including stopovers; four changes of time zone, and a whole wad of cash better spent on flying somewhere else you can get to in about seven hours.

Like Europe.

The time change especially gets on my nerves, for it means that no matter how early my day of travel starts (and it starts early), I’m going to arrive at my final destination late, exhausted (no matter how foreshortened the day is), and in a bad mood.

I can foresee it all in my head:

4:30am Pacific Standard Time – Awake half an hour early for fear of not having enough time to get ready without rushing

4:50am – Actually get out of bed, realizing I’ve just lounged away most of my time for getting ready without rushing

5:30am – Play some loud, aggro music on my stereo in revenge against the heavy-walking kaiju who lives above me

5:31am – Realize that the person most irritated by Rage Against the Machine that frickin’ early is me

6:00am – Leave my apartment.  Realize this is the time I’m meant to be at the airport, not just setting off for it, to arrive two hours beforehand.

6:45am – Arrive at the airport.  Enter my first of many lines for the day.

8:00am – Scheduled departure time of plane.  I’m still sitting in the waiting area.

8:30am – Finally boarding the plane.  I bet this flight was always going to depart at 9:00am and they just made me get up early because they can.

9:00am – On the plane, rolling to the runway

9:10am – Still not at the runway.  Or maybe we’re going to drive all the way to Nova Scotia.

9:20am – Houston, we have liftoff!

Three dollars? You’ve gotta be f*%in’ kidding me!

10:00am – God, I’m starving.  Breakfast was five hours ago.  Is it too early to eat the sandwich I packed for lunch?

11:00am – Buy a mini can of Pringles for a whopping $3 to prevent having to eat my sandwich until noon

12:00pm – Discover that the sandwich I struggled so hard to not squish got squished anyway

12:15pm – The first baby of the day starts crying

12:30pm – How the hell have I already been awake for eight hours and it’s only 12:30?

2:30pm Mountain Standard Time – First stopover. One time zone down, three to go.

2:31pm – It’s snowing outside

3:30pm – Scheduled departure of first connector flight.  Clearly, it was too much to hope this flight also wouldn’t be late departing.  It’s not like it never snows in Alberta.

4:00pm – Boarding the plane.  There’s no room in the overhead bins for my backpack due to everyone’s ginormous “carry-on” bags.

4:10pm – Plane gets de-iced

4:25pm – Plane isn’t cleared for takeoff soon enough.  More de-icing.

4:30pm – In another five minutes, we’re going to need de-icing yet again

4:33pm – We just make it.  Away we go!

4:50pm – Commencement of in-flight beverage service

5:10pm – Turbulence.  In-flight service is halted one row ahead of me.

5:15pm – Maybe I should have taken that Gravol after all.  Could really use some ginger ale about now.

5:20pm – How is it even possible for an airline seat to simultaneously be so uncomfortable yet so expensive?

6:50pm Eastern Standard Time – Stopover #2, because one isn’t enough.  I never did get that ginger ale.  Two more time zone (Mountain and Central) bite the dust.

8:00pm – Flight, as ever, is delayed.  And yet, no time to line up to buy a decent dinner.

8:45pm – Everyone is boarded save that one Super Elite member still finishing his prime rib in the airport lounge

9:00pm – Takeoff.  Final leg of the journey.

9:15pm – Kid seated behind me is kicking my chair

9:20pm – The person in the center seat keeps stealing my arm rest

9:25pm – Sandwich I bought during second stopover and struggled so hard not to squish got squished anyway

9:30pm – Person in the window seat gets up to use the bathroom the exact moment I unwrap my sandwich…

9:40pm – … and pulls on the back of my seat while making his way up the aisle

10:00pm – Tenth baby of the day starts crying

10:01pm – Battery in my iPod dies

10:02pm – I want to die

10:30pm – Isn’t this plane coming in for a landing a little fast?  I mean, I’m no pilot, but….

10:31pm – No, seriously – it’s coming in fast!

10:32pm – I want to live!

11:35pm Atlantic Standard Time – Plane lands heavily (all that “carry-on” baggage) yet safely.  I’m so tired, I’m pretty sure I died anyway.

12:00am – Discover that my luggage is still somewhere back in Alberta….

All of the above, of course, is for the purpose of spending the true shortest day (aka Christmas) in a joyful and relaxed state with my family.

To all my blog readers and followers: Wishing a truly peaceful and Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays to you and yours.  I won’t be posting during the actual week of Christmas, but I’ll catch you again in the lead-up to New Year’s.

(Image source #1 and #2)

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