We just returned from a great vacation to the Turks and Caicos. All four of us had a wonderful time. Parts of it went really well, exceeding expectation, parts were just as predicted, and parts were downright crazy. There will be more on the good later, but this post is about our trip home on Monday.
We booked our trip on so that we traveled on Mondays, as that was when the direct flights were offered. We didn’t take direct flights last year, and quickly saw that as an error in judgement during the sixteen hour travel day that only included a little over three hours of flying time. The direct flight and on-ground transfers were two of the big reasons that we chose the Beaches in Turks, a short 4 hour flight, followed by a 15 minute drive from the airport!
All was smooth on the way down, so we hoped for the best on the way home. On departure day, we hopped in the shuttle just as the skies opened in a torrential downpour. We got to the airport and it was chaos. There were several flights departing within 30 minutes of each other, and many people were waiting. The space was small, and there was limited counter space for each airline. Air Canada had two counters, and it moved very slowly, especially after the agents noticed that they had mistagged all of the luggage that had been received prior to our arrival, and had to re-tag it all while we waited in line, a mere three groups from the front.
Given that our wait at the airport spanned Goose’s naptime, I had promised her she could have a nap in my arms when we got to the airport. I meant after we had checked in, cleared security, and were sitting at the gate enjoying our last Turk’s Lager of the trip. She took it to mean that she could sleep the minute we walked through the doors, and demanded to be picked it. I did and she promptly fell asleep, all thirty-eight pounds of her!
We finally checked in, and wandered down to security, where we stood in a VERY long line that we quickly realized wasn’t moving. It’s small airport that uses stairs for deplaning. That rain I mentioned? Apparently made the stairs too slippery for the people arriving and it slowed the boarding of of those ahead of us, so they stopped processing people. While I was still carrying sleeping Goose.
We made it through in time for Goose to wake and to get called to board. The plane took off on schedule, and we settled in for the flight. About forty minutes into the flight they started meal service, Willy headed to the potty with Goose, and I chilled with Woo. Shortly into the meal service an announcement came over the speakers letting us know that they were unable to serve hot meals as the ovens were broken. Then I started hearing the attendants tell passengers that they were out of all the food, offering one of two lonely vegetarian sandwiches, some chips or some oatmeal. By the time they got to us, I snagged the last two sandwiches, leaving the rest of the plane with nothing to eat. There were a good fourteen rows of hungry people behind us.
Willy and Goose had returned to our seats at this point, in time for another announcement, letting us know that the lavatories hadn’t been emptied, and we needed to land to empty them. At this point they locked the doors on the washrooms, stopped “food” and beverage service, and started a fast decent into the Bahamas.
We landed in Nassau, and were on the ground for about 40 minutes. The crew was very forthcoming, letting us know where we were going, how we long we could anticipate being delayed, and what they were doing about connecting flights. They truly tried to make the best of a bad situation, one that was clearly stressful for them too.
It got me wondering about how this could happen? And what else are they missing? It was a regularly scheduled plane full of small children, flying over the dinner hour. Did the delays, extra fuel and any other fees they incurred by an unscheduled landing not cost them a pile of money? Passengers and staff alike were inconvenienced and upset by the delays and lack of preparedness, and the disruption to their travel day. They had many hungry passengers, who were given little choice for food at the airport, and would rely on getting something on the plane. There must have also been disruption for the passengers on the flight that was held for connecting passengers on my flight.
I understand that delays are a fact of life when travelling, but this one seems to have been entirely avoidable. A simple checklist that included the item “plane serviced and refreshed” would have saved us all the bother. I had plane snacks on my list, so we (and the people I shared with in front of us) were actually OK foodwise. good thing I’m a list-maker!