It was 1230 hours & time to check in for the flight to Canada scheduled for tomorrow. There were two legs to our journey, one to the Azores, then a second from the Azores to Toronto. I happily checked in for the first leg, but there was then a problem. The second leg was ghosted. Qu’est-ce que c’est?
I looked more carefully at the ghosted section and to my horror, discovered there was a reason. It was booked for two days ago. What had I done wrong this time? How could I make such a mistake. Panic spread.
We were on a tight timeline because we had to board a flight to Canada within 72 hours of our COVID-19 PCR test, we were now 24 hours into the 72 hours. These COVID-19 tests cost us CAD $300 not a small sum.
Then there was the already booked hotel in Toronto and the onward flight from Toronto home on Saturday.
After the initial panic, I realized it was not me. The airline had cancelled one leg of the flight and no one informed us. Quelle une cock up!
Simultaneously we went to work, contacting the airlines, contacting the booking agent, attempting to get on a flight from Porto to Toronto within the window of our expiring COVID-19 tests. Sean provided help with getting us a functioning internet phone called limphone.
The sorting out of the past mess would have to wait. Our first attempted booking on Lufthansa failed. We had lingered too long, and the seats were gone. Back to the drawing board. This time it was Portuguese Airlines that had a flight available except we would have to be up at 2:00 a.m. to make it to the flight from Porto to Lisbon, then to Toronto. Get out the old credit card, and go at it, done.
We would arrive in Toronto at 11 am, after departing Porto at 5 am.
Such is travel.
As we boarded the flight in Porto, Heather made a comment that we were like sardines. What a great idea for the Portuguese airline because sardines are found everywhere. Paint the jets like sardine cans and be honest about modern travel with the slogan, “Your sardine can in the sky.”
Excuse the quick Photoshop work. If asked by the industry I will create a more professional looking shrink wrap of the idea.
Unlike the Dutch and the Portuguese, the Canadian COVID-19 entry requirements were adhered to strictly. At the check-in at Porto we had to show that we had completed the federal government questionnaire, including copies of our vaccinations, and the results of our PCR test. This derailed us at the airport as the questionnaire we previously completed on the laptop with accompanying uploads of proof of vaccination, first came up blank. Hmm.
Finally it appeared with the fields populated – when did we take your first and second vaccinations, what flight are we one, where had we been?
Onward to the boarding area. There Portuguese Airlines wanted to see the letters from the clinic that were issued after the COVID-19 results came back negative. The person in front of us drew a blank. He was angry. He knew nothing about the requirement, and was refused boarding. Luckily our technology worked and soon saw the Lisbon airport sprawling in front of us.
Pearson Airport in Toronto was a disappointment. Crowds to the left of us, crowds to the right of us, small children in the line with many many adults snaking our way through. Reminded me of cattle drives in my home province of Alberta. One adult with two small children asked what the age maximum was for the family line – answer was that the staff person did not know!
Staff were sadly, rather rude. One staff member responsible for directing traffic was distracted as she played with texting on her cell phone. Very unprofessional and a poor image of a traveller’s first image of Canadians.
The customs officer asked us a few simple questions and we were through after showing an email about receiving our COVID-19 app registration.
Then again we were checked to make sure we had a sticker to show we had not simply slipped through the cracks. How a person would get through this who did not speak English or French was beyond us.
Finally we were through, and on to the Toronto hotel, which we will write about later.