Our flight out of Vancouver was in the morning, so we were up to see the sunrise and off to the airport. We gave ourselves plenty of time to get through security. With our various flights we’d been caught several times in one glitch or another, so we were cautious.
It was a good thing. Remember those big jars of taco seasoning? They weighed over a pound and a half each and I had three. I didn’t want to put them into my suitcase, because I was afraid I’d be over my limit. So I decided to carry them onto the plane. Not a good idea. I had them in a tote with various other bits and pieces that we’d acquired while away. It went through the scanner. I went through the upright scanner. I got through. My tote did not.
I waited at the end of the conveyer belt, returning change, camera and tablet to my purse. A woman security agent huddled beside the scanner technician, both of them looking at the screen and murmuring to each other. This was definitely ominous. I should have been worried, but I wasn’t. I figured they were discussing my taco seasoning because the shape was odd. It never occurred to me that it might not be obvious to them that the powder inside was what it said it was. The technician got the conveyer belt moving again and my tote emerged from the scanner. The woman opened it and physically inspected. There was more discussion. After a few minutes she came over to me.
“You have three large jars with power in them.” She was completely deadpan. Not overtly suspicious, and certainly not threatening or intimidating.
I laughed. “I do,” I said. “It’s taco seasoning. I bought it at Costco.” I still wasn’t worried. After all, it really was taco seasoning. I think I may have even had the receipt with me. “My Costco doesn’t carry taco seasoning and my family loves it. So I stocked up.” Taco seasoning is a big seller in Vancouver. Maybe she was a fan. Or a Costco member. She certainly looked amazed at my assertion that Costco elsewhere wouldn’t sell taco seasoning. We had a brief discussion about that, and then she gave me my tote with the jars of taco seasoning, wished me a pleasant flight and we were through security.
As the scene unfolded, It occurred to me that carrying three large jars full of an odd coloured powder onto the plane wasn’t the smartest idea in the world. It could have ended very differently if the person doing the checking had decided that my taco seasoning and story weren’t genuine. I was lucky and I appreciated it.
It looked like the whole flight would be lucky. The weather was perfect for flying over the Rockies and the views from my window were gorgeous. We reached Toronto where we had a short layover for our final leg and touched down just after a thunderstorm had passed through. We had about a two hour wait and our gate was at the other end of the airport, so we hustled down the echoing hallways to the Westjet lounge.
And waited. Another thunderstorm passed through. Planes couldn’t land. Four hours later Westjet announced most outgoing flights were cancelled. They told everyone to head back to the main airport area to their customer service desk to reschedule. Two or three hundred people stampeded out of the lounge. By the time we got to the line at customer service, it snaked around the seating area and down the hallway. We weren’t even near the front when an announcement over the PA said that the few flights that were still running were full and that everyone else had been rescheduled for the next morning. Oh, yes and by the way you can have $160.00 to pay for a hotel room, if you can find one. It was mid summer in Toronto. There were conferences in town and tourists, and the place was booked to the hilt. We know, we phoned around and got no where.
We spent the night in the airport, along with the rest of our co-passengers. Westjet, despite their commercials, which proclaim that they will always go the extra mile for their passengers, made only the barest minimum attempt to help. There was no innovative thinking. No willingness to be flexible. When questioned about options, their famous friendliness was nothing more than brisk irritation. I was disappointed. I’ll never look at the Westjet Christmas video with the same trusting belief again.
Although not much goes on in Toronto airport between midnight and four am, it’s still a noisy place. The floor waxing Zamboni drives by, going back and forth to make sure the hall floors are super clean. Every time a person passes the sensor on the overhead televisions, the news comes on, loud in the stillness of the night. The lights are on, of course, though they do dim down, until the Zamboni machine or a cleaner or a stray passenger ambles through. Then, like the television, they are at full blast. Around 4 am the place starts to wake up as people trickle through to catch 6 am planes. A little while later the restaurants start to open. We grabbed breakfast, then groggily headed back to the Westjet boarding area to catch our flight. I have no idea if it was smooth or rocky, clear or clouded. As soon as I settled in my seat I was asleep and only woke up on landing. It was marvellous!
This is the last post in my BC research trip and Alaska Cruise series. I want to thank you for taking the time to come along with me, to let me share my photos, and my experiences. I had a blast. I hope you did too!