Travel Troubles

This is the first and hopefully final instalment in this series, because travel troubles are just no fun….

So basically, my designated route to Heraklion, Greece was meant to take me there from Toronto through two connections in Germany: Frankfurt and Stuttgart. I’m sitting in Frankfurt as I write this, but let’s rewind to the beginning.

I wake up on Friday, July 3 to discover that there are plenty of delays and cancellations at my main city airport-Toronto Pearson International Airport- because of the majority of fuel workers calling in sick. This is due to several airlines, including the airline operating my flight to Frankfurt-Air Canada- switching fuel providers. The switch will cause hundreds of fuel workers to lose their jobs come October.

I was a bit nervous about whether or not I would encounter huge delays, especially since I had connections to catch. As it turned out, my fears were unwarranted. Not because I’d be on time for my connections. Oh, definitely not. But boarding for my flight wasn’t delayed, which I was ecstatic about. Once we got on the plane though, it was a different story.

The baggage belt broke. Then, the pullbacks-trucks used to pull planes in reverse, as a flight attendant explained-also broke. 10-20 minute delay, they announced. Every 10 minutes. Ultimately, we took off about an hour later than expected and landed late. My flight from Frankfurt to Stuttgart took off at 7:10am; we were meant to touch down at 6:10am, giving me the minimum time of an hour to catch the connection, but landed at around 6:50am instead. By the time we got out, it was pushing 7:00am.

Cue the sprint. Mind you, navigating such a massive airport isn’t the easiest thing to do in the best conditions, let alone blatant sleep deprivation and apparent memory loss. I say memory loss because, I swear, I forgot the exact gate I was supposed to go to the minute after the guy at the information desk told me what it was. And then, I had another slip during security after having gotten through passport control.

“Do you have any liquids in your carry-on, ma’am?” The security officer asks me.

“Oh no, definitely not,” I tell him with utmost confidence. I pass through the security scanner and then, as my backpack is going through a check, I remember. “Oh no, sir, I actually do have liquids in there. Toothpaste and…and stuff.” I accompany my words with vague gestures.

“Well, it’s a bit late to make that announcement now, isn’t it…” He says, giving me an exasperated look. I get held up as my bag sets off the alarm and is searched. Whatever. I wasn’t going to make that flight anyway.


This is probably making it sound like the only shenanigans that occurred were on the ground. To the contrary, the approximately 7-hour flight from Toronto to Frankfurt also had its share of interesting moments.

My first intention on the plane was to find a movie or two to watch for at least part of the flight. The in-flight entertainment system had several interesting options, including Gone Girl and The Maze Runner. So I plug in my headphones and press play on Gone Girl, eagerly awaiting the start of a film (and its basis, the book) that I had heard a lot about. And then I hear quiet, high-pitched, and squeaky sounds. I look at the screen, puzzled. It takes me several moments to realize that the sounds are corresponding to the movement of the character’s mouths.

“Oh, hell no,” I mutter, restarting the film, and plugging and unplugging my headphones. Nothing. Garbled garbage still.

I look around. The neighbour to my right, a middle-aged man with a German accent, is watching Toy Story. To my left, a teenage girl is watching some sort of cheesy, Mean Girls-esque film. She’s also reading at the same time. I glimpse the title on the Kindle. Crazy Rich Asians?

The meal comes. I dig in enthusiastically, and manage to simultaneously elbow the guy to my right hard and drop steaming hot orzo pasta down my shirt. I wince and get up to go to the washroom, all the while apologizing. The washroom is standard airline fare, unless you’re flying executive premium class, I suppose. Just enough to turn around and a faucet that forces you to wash one hand at a time because you need to push down on it to keep the water flowing. Not that much water flows. I feel my hand brushing against the sink as I try to catch the sprinkle of water to wash away the soap suds. I’m probably better off with an application of hand sanitizer.


It gets dark an hour or so later. I adjust the pillow behind my head and close my eyes, trying to relax and fall asleep. I hear shuffling in the seat directly in front of me. Initially, I ignore it. Then, I feel a light flash on and off. Repeatedly. I frown and open my eyes.

All I see at first, what with the dim lighting in the cabin and my bleary vision, is a pearly white smile. I recoil into my seat, heartbeat spiking sharply. After a few moments, I come to my senses and begin to take in my surroundings properly. And I realize that the passenger in front of me is a young girl. She’s leaning well over her chair, staring at me. I give a brief, you’ll-look-away-if-I-smile-and-acknowledge-your-presence-right? grin and close my eyes immediately. I wait a few minutes and then open my eyes by a sliver.  Now, she’s waving a blue-and-white striped handkerchief above her head. Our eyes meet again.

Needless to say, it was a long flight.


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