Sunday, January 28, 2007

Escaping Toronto

I finally got back from Toronto late Saturday night (rant to follow) and after a good night’s sleep, I got up this morning for my second run of the week; a short 5 miler around my usual loop. Temperatures in the mid 40s and clear blue skies were a welcome change to the gloom in Minneapolis and Toronto. Not much to report concerning the run. I kept the pace just over 9:00/mi throughout and watched my HR drift up from 135 to 150 bpm over the course.

I didn’t have any issues with my right foot on this run, although my right ankle is a bit tender and the pads on my right foot’s center toes are still numb. Overall, I’m still feeling pretty good.

I’m heading for South Bend, Indiana on Monday and I’ll continue with my recovery program while I’m there. With any luck, I should be able to top this week’s mileage total of 9.1 miles without too much trouble. Have a great week.

WARNING – The following is my private rant against Air Canada and has absolutely nothing to do with running. Proceed at your own risk.

During my adult life, I’ve flown over 1,000,000 miles (990,976 on American Airlines alone) and I can say, without fear of contradiction, that I have never been treated as shabbily as I was by Air Canada during my trip to Toronto last week. In fact, I didn’t actually fly on an Air Canada aircraft since they canceled both scheduled flights. In the course of my travels, I’ve dealt with normal flight delays, impromptu airline employee strikes (not unusual in Europe), the US “war on terrorism”, missed flight connections, misplaced baggage, bad food, broken aircraft toilettes, drunk passengers, obnoxious passengers, children crawling under my legs while I was trying to sleep and about everything else life can through your way as you travel around the planet; but I have never been simply told, “fxck you”, when an Airline canceled my flight moments before boarding time because there weren’t enough people on the flight to make it profitable and they could cover their collective butts by claiming the cancellation was weather related and as a result their only obligation was to dump their former passengers outside of the security parameter for them to fend for themselves. I explained most of this in my last post.

After Air Canada’s demonstration of their whacked definition of compassionate customer service Friday night, I didn’t know why I expected any better from them on Saturday morning. I got to the airport two hours before departure time and tried to retrieve a boarding card from the Air Canada check-in kiosk as I did last night before they canceled my direct flight back to Phoenix. When the kiosk wouldn’t accept my confirmation number and hence wouldn’t give me a boarding card, the Air Canada line Nazi near by told me to get in the baggage drop-off line without a boarding card and have the agent at baggage check-in solve my problem. I had an Air Canada reservation, made through Air Canada, using an Air Canada flight number, so this sounded reasonable and had me moving in the right direction. Boy was I wrong.

After standing in the baggage check-in line for 30 minutes, another Air Canada goon came out and said (this is a direct quote): “If you are in this line and are going to Denver or Chicago YOU ARE IN THE WRONG LINE!. We CAN NOT help you. You MUST GO TO THE UNITED COUNTER!” The tone was certainly: why are you dumb sh!ts clogging up my line. Just because we screwed you all over yesterday and dumped our garbage on United, as we told you last night, we are still under no obligation to treat you as human beings. Get out of my line NOW! So over to United I trundled with the rest of the huddled masses yearning to be free of this appalling airline.

The line at United was controlled chaos. There were so many rebookings the night before that the line spilled out of the serpentine roped area directly in front of the United Check-in counter and extended far into the hallway. The line wasn’t moving at all and after 10 minutes it was clear that there was no way United was going to work its way through this mess in time to give me enough cushion to get through passport control, customs and security (US Passport Control and Customs is located in Canada) and still make my flight.

Fortunately, my flight to Denver was delayed an hour which gave me some breathing room, but cut the connection to my Phoenix flight in Denver to 30 minutes. After another hour went by, the United folks got smart and figured out that they needed to focus on checking in the people leaving on the next flight (which was the flight to Denver). I was checked in and on my way 15 minutes later. I tried to get the United agent to switch me to the later flight out of Denver, but she assured me that I’d make my connection. Again, I knew better, but what the heck, I like to live on the edge.

The flight to Denver pushed back at noon, two hours behind schedule and immediately stopped on the tarmac. The pilot came on the loud speaker and informed us that the aircraft needed to be de-iced (again, no problem) which would take an hour and a half (big problem). 90 minutes to get the plane de-iced. There goes any chance of making my connection in Denver and I wasn’t all that sure that there would be room on the last flight from Denver to Phoenix on Saturday and the thought of spending another night in a hotel on this trip wasn’t all that appealing. But, no worries, I could make it work

I got to Denver an hour 30 after my flight to Phoenix left. Fortunately, United had figured this out and had already re-booked me on the last flight out of Denver heading to Phoenix. After another flight delay, my bag and I arrived in Phoenix at 8:30 PM, 21 hours behind schedule. In the future I’ll just book my travel on United and cut out the Air Canada antics.


DawnB said...

Wow Phil!! welcome back. Sorry about your experience with Air Canada!!I've had a few experiences with USAir but nothing to this magnatude!!you have my full permission to rant on!!

Ewen said...

Our trips to and from the US have been smooth by comparison. I can recommend Air NZ and Qantas :)

Mike said...

What a freaking travel nightmare Phil, I'm so sorry to hear about it. This explains part of my hesitation to travel at all especially with little ones.

Does the numbness on the ball of the foot extend up the sides of any toes at all? Rubbing a pencil against the sides of the toes will tell.

Jim said...

Bummer on the bad trip. Nothing like a bad experience (or series of bad experiences) to let you know how some businesses actually value their customers. Being in Birmingham, I have learned to HATE Delta. Maybe I should restate . . . not learned-more like a conditioned reflex. I will drive 2 hours to another airport to avoid a Delta flight! Rant on!!!

Good thing that you're a runner . . . otherwise your blood pressure during Air Canada's goat roping may have blown off the top of your head!

Deene said...

what a nasty ordeal! glad you made it home.

jen said...

Good grief... I'm sorry to hear your trip was such a headache. Glad you made it home safe at last!

olga said...

Crap! was a good story to read though:) sorry. Sometimes it is good to hear others vent, especially non-running related. I hope you recover from the ordeal well.

Anne said...

Hey, I thought the Canadians were our friends. I avoid American West because of similar treatment a few years ago. Not as bad as your situation, though. Sorry you had to go through that.