Ahh…I love the smell of airport security in the morning. We arrived at Toronto Pearson airport yesterday morning, just after 7:30 am.  On our way to a late Christmas with mom & dad in Guadalajara.  First challenge, our flight to Chicago (to Guad) was cancelled for maintenance.  Ok, we can handle that.  We were re-booked on a 9 am flight direct to Mexico City, to Guad on Air Canada in Terminal 1 (we were in Terminal 3) so we had less than 20 min to make it to the check-in.  We ran with our luggage to the tram between the terminals and arrived at the check-in counter for Air Canada at 8:01 am.  The flight closed at 8:00 am and no one was interested in helping us get on the flight.  Sorry, go back to terminal 3 and see if American Airlines can help. Ok, step 2. We get on a Delta flight through Atlanta, leaving at 2:59 pm.  We can do this, it’s not even 9 am!  We hop into the security line-up to clear customs first.

When you fly out of Toronto to the US, you clear customs first and then you have to check your luggage.  Yup, you carry your luggage with you until you pass customs.  The line for security was so long that they had to control how fast you went through customs.  It took us almost 3 hours to get to the line for security.  We met some great people during that time, Linda & Andrew, who were off to Lima for a G.A.P. Adventure, Lee who was trying to get home to Austin and Terry, a fellow triathlete who is doing Ironman Switzerland next year.

We cleared security after 6 hours of waiting and standing on concrete.  We got to our gate ON TIME for our 3 pm flight.  Since all of the flights were really messed up, the 12:35 flight was at our gate and our flight was no where to be found. We requested to get on the flight, since the plane was more than half empty.  Due to our luggage not being on the flight, it would have taken too much time for the gate agent to get us on the flight. Yup, because it would take too long, we were again denied boarding.

After that, it was a waiting game and a running game.  We ran back and forth between two gates at opposite ends of the terminal, trying to find out if our flight was still delayed or cancelled. We called Delta directly, and I will say that the agents on the phone were extremely helpful.  They booked us on the flight for this morning to Guadalajara, as we were starting to be fairly certain we weren’t getting out of Toronto til later in the evening. One of the biggest challenges we faced was being in line almost all day, trying to get information about the flights since the departure boards weren’t being updated.

Finally, at 6:30 pm, we boarded a plane to Atlanta. A very compact plane, but we did get the emergency exit seating (of course!).  We were happy, relaxed, ready to go.  And then we waited. And waited. Over 2 hours later, we finally took off. The flight itself was uneventful. As we approached Atlanta, 1:05 before landing, we were in a hold position.  Meaning that we were no longer allowed to stand, go to the toilet, have any electronic devices (iPod), blankets or pillows.  Just sit, quietly and don’t move. New TSA regulations. At 11:00 pm, we touched down in Atlanta.  And ever since we have been here, things have been so smooth.

Hotel stay, toothbrush, hot shower and free oversized t-shirt.  Not too bad.  This morning, we are sitting quietly at the gate, relaxed, not running anywhere and just happily chillaxing. One of the things I am truly grateful about this trip is that my husband is a great travel partner.  I had a few moments of weakness brought on by stress and lack of food, and he was super at helping me stay cheerful.  Yes, people even commented about our positive attitude.  For those of you who know me (in a stressful situation) this is a huge compliment. We truly did live in the moment, realized that we were dealt these cards today and that eventually, we would end up in Mexico. There were so many people who were in our situation, but with 2 or 3 kids, pets, in wheelchairs, elderly – we just had the ultimate test of patience. We remained as calm as possible and planned ahead to avoid any problems today.

Last night, I was ready to throw in the towel when it comes to air travel. Being treated like cattle and patted down, and basically guilty until proven innocent – it just wasn’t appealing.  Yet we were treated so well in Atlanta that I have changed my mind.  Air travel (CO2 emissions and all) is a huge blessing. One of my passions is to travel. We already have several trips planned for next year. So, I guess I will chalk up our experience yesterday at the gift of patience. It’s been said that when one asks for more patience, we are tested with event that will allow us to learn patience. Yesterday was the ultimate test. And we made it out the other side, still smiling!

For those travelling out of Toronto in the next week, a word of caution and patience. And if anyone else has any interesting air travel stories, please post them.

Julie

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