Hello from the Soo...

Sunday, March 05 2006 @ 02:44 MST

Contributed by: evilscientist

Well I finally made it to Sault Ste. Marie. What an adventure that was. It started out going great and then went down hill from there. Now that I'm here though things are going well. The story so far: Mrs. Evil drops me off at the airport. We wait in the check in line for 10 minutes where we are told we have to go to the little machines to pick up my boarding pass, then come back. So I get the boarding pass and then wait another 10 minutes to check my luggage. I now have just enough time to get through security to make it to my aircraft's boarding time. Going through security was ok, I set the detector off (as I was traveling in uniform) and the steel toes in my boots caused a wand wave or two.

So I stop at Tim Horton's to pick up a sandwich and some muffins for the flight (since Air Canada now charges for the meals in flight), make my way to the gate and have a seat and wait. Eventually the aircraft arrives (about 10:45 for the 11:00 flight). People get off. A new flight crew gets on. Boarding is announced for 30 minutes hence so more waiting. At about 11:15 the flight crew gets off the aircraft, followed 5 minutes after that by the aircraft being pushed away from the terminal. This is followed by an announcement that due to mechanical difficulties, the flight will be delayed till 14:30. Ok, more waiting.



At about 13:30 I decide to check in at the customer service counter in the security area to see what was going to happen to my connection in Toronto. The line is huge since Air Canada had also just canceled three Vancouver flights. While waiting in the line, it's further announced that my flight is now delayed till 17:00 while they locate another aircraft to do the run. About 15 minutes later I finally make the counter where I and some other hapless Toronto bound passengers are told that there are no available seats to Toronto on any of Air Canada's other flights. My fellow travelers then inquire as to how to get a refund, then hike over to Westjet. Since I'm traveling for the military, this wasn't an option for me, and since a 17:00 flight would get me to Toronto well after my connection I then asked the agent what would happen with my connection.

The agent takes my boarding passes, checks the computer and then says that they'll put me on the 15:15 flight which would get me to Toronto in time for the last flight out to Sault Ste. Marie. I would have to re-check my luggage but I would make it to the Soo around midnight. How they got me on a supposedly full flight I'm not sure, but I was getting to the point where I didn't really care where the aircraft was going, as long as I was going somewhere.

So armed with my new boarding passes and a meal voucher for $8.00, I headed off to the arrivals area to collect my luggage, which like the rest of the passengers from the 11:00 flight, had been lined up on the floor of the departures area and left unattended. How long it had been there I don't know, and I suspect that some people who did get on the now 17:00 flight didn't get their luggage when they got to Toronto since it was sitting on the floor in arrivals in Calgary. At least the woman at the check in counter had the foresight not to ask me if I had left the bag unattended at any time.

So back through security, again with the boots and another stop at Tim Horton's (another sandwich and a hot chocolate) on the airline's tab. Back to the gate and more waiting. The 15:15 flight shows up at about 15:10, people get off and we wait about 30 minutes for them to clean the aircraft. So we board and finally leave Calgary at 16:00 (45 minute late).

The flight is uneventful, though packed. I pass the time listening to my ipod and doing crossword puzzles on my Palm Pilot.

We arrive at Toronto Pearson Terminal 1 5 minutes after when I am supposed to be boarding my next flight. Thankfully the flight also was leaving Terminal 1..... from the complete opposite side of the terminal. So I dash from the gate I arrived at to the other side of the terminal to find.....

.... that my connecting flight had been delayed due to mechanical problems. So I sit at Toronto for another hour while they fix the aircraft. I eventually board and spend an uneventful flight to the Soo, arriving around 01:00. Fortunately the contingent from Northern Region was also there and I hitched a ride with them to the hotel where I got my room (waking up my room-mate) and went to bed for a relaxing four hours of sleep.

Waking up on Saturday was not bad, the day was light and after supper I soaked in the hotel hot tub and then crashed at about 19:30, sleeping till 07:30 this morning. A rather light day of set up at the biathlon site and now it's getting close to supper time. Just the opening ceremonies tonight and then the competition starts tomorrow.

More to come!

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