Vacation could not have come soon enough—it had been six long months. The ride to the airport was smooth as silk, checking in was easy, then at the gate it was apparent that the previous LGA to YUL flight had been canceled as people were on their phones making alternate arrangements.
However, the next flight which we were booked on was a CRJ which does not leave much room standby passengers. Boarding was a snap, then the taxi. I think one runway was being worked on which meant that when we pulled up, we were number 14 in line for takeoff. I know it has been discussed in the general forum several times, but I should say that every flight we took on Air Canada had announcements in English and French.
Once airborne the hour long flight was pretty cool as we did the circle over Montreal before coming into land over the city. The new arrivals hall in Montreal is gorgeous, but there was really only our flight there so we were on the street within minutes. We stayed at the Four Points Sheraton, which is okay, but not outstanding. The elevator is rather small for a 20 story hotel I thought.
Montreal was great! I asked my then girlfriend, now fiancé, to marry me and we even took a day trip to Quebec city. That was really nice. What a beautiful place. It is deceiving when you arrive by train, because it does not look like much. Once we climbed up the hill it became apparent that the area by the station is just a teaser.
A few days after arriving in Montreal we departed for London on an Air Canada 763. The interior was pretty old; however, their service was great. I tried to sleep—it just did not work out as I had planned since I wanted to be able to have a full day in London. It ended up not mattering as on the morning we landed was the day of the explosions. My brilliant plan when scheduled was to stay at the Paddington Hilton since we only had a couple of days in London before going on to Paris. The Paddington Hilton gave us the advantage of using the Heathrow Express. However, the Heathrow Express was closed, then we went to the subway, which was closed as well. We thought about the bus, but thankfully my dad had just stayed with us in New York after stopping in London on his way to Vegas from Damman and he gave me a bunch of Pounds.
We decided to take a cab—which was the right move, as everything else was shut down. At the time we entered the cab line we were number 10 in line or so. By the time we were pulling away in the cab, the line was at least 200 people deep. The cab dispatcher was saying that there were explosions on the rail line which closed down the train lines. He said there was eight. The cabbie said that there was six, with traffic as bad as it was, by the time we arrived at the Paddington Hilton we had learned that there was four explosions.
Once checking in, the room was not ready, and they would not hold our bags so we decided to go to the café. About 20 minutes later they evacuated the hotel and the only timed in rained while we were in London, was while we were outside with our bags. However, the staff at the Hilton Paddington was doing a yeoman’s job and when we were back in a couple hours later our room was ready. We took a quick nap before going exploring.
Sadly, London was in a somber mood that day, obviously, and most of the shops had closed. Since transportation was shut down until later in the day, we decided to stay around the Paddington area. However, my fiancé found some things that she wanted in the store windows and we decided to head out again the next day when things would have brightened up.
Which they did, and I have to say it was a wonderful day in London given everything that had occurred. Having lived in New York during Sept-11, we had an idea of what London was going through.
The next morning, early, I was able to realize just how brilliant my plan was. From the hotel, we rolled our bags around the corner and viola right on to the Heathrow Express. Within minutes, we were at the Terminals 1,2,3 stop, and a bit of a walk we were at the BMI check-in. What a mess! Two lines extending almost to the doors! My fiancé of course picks the shorter line. I told her to wait there as I was going to try the automatic check-in kiosk. I tried several and while they would recognize me, they would not let us check-in.
When I caught back up with her, I noticed she was in the baggage drop off line. And yes, I will admit, we snuck across to the other line near the middle of the other line and wiggled our way in. I’m a queue jumper, but what can you do, we waited as long as anyone else anyways. Only one man noticed and he tried to raise a fuss, but he was old, and I think most people thought he was just confused.
This is what kills me—BMI has three people working the check-in for a queue that reaches to the door, and by this time is actually snaked around farther than that. They have three other people working the baggage drop queue. While in line a stern Englishwoman calls out cities which are within 45 minutes of boarding, these people are allowed to leave the line, and go to the middle which is roped off and there are two open people just waiting there doing nothing. I know because after an hour in line, our flight to Paris was called and soon we were on our way.
After briskly moving to the gate and passing no less than two security lines, we were on the plane and bound for Paris. Once in Paris, and trying to clear immigration it became apparent that the concept of queuing meant nothing here. We made it through and soon were in a cab headed to the Hotel Lutetia (awesome! Comes with my recommendation). Once there, we unpacked and headed out to see the city.
Paris was wonderful and except for an unpleasant exchange at the Starbucks next to the funky looking building by Rue de Temple, everyone in Paris was polite, if not friendly. Soon, evening had come on the third day and we were back on our way to the airport. Here is a tip, when boarding at a satellite at terminal one, make sure you have all needs met before clearing security.
The flight back was uneventful, but I have to say, BMI was great (with the exception of check-in in London) and the inflight crew was very nice. We were at the back of the plane and overheard the male steward telling tales of his escapades with other men to the stewardesses. We had hot snacks, then landed, and we were back on the street in seconds. After a long wait for the #3 Heathrow Hotel Hoppa, we pulled into the Sheraton Skyline. We had a room overlooking Heathrow, which did not mean much to my fiancé, but I then had to wonder why I ever stayed in any other hotels in London. What a beautiful hotel, view, and room!!!
The next morning we sadly found our way to Heathrow knowing that our vacation was coming to an end. And that we would have three of the busiest days of our lives as we had to organize everything before flying out to Australia (moving there) on the following Saturday.
The return flight on Air Canada I think was an equipment change. We were an hour late, but I could have swore when I booked the flight were to be on an A340. I was excited because I had not flown on one before, but then looking out the window from the boarding lounge I only saw two 763’s.
The condition of this 763 was worse than the first one, and I think we only had 31” legroom as these seats were cramped. Funny how nothing seems as good when you are uncomfortable, somehow the service seemed bad. It probably was fine, but I was annoyed with the no legroom and the people in front of us had put their seats back. A Continental 767 flew right under us somewhere over Canada, that was pretty neat, and soon we had landed in Toronto. We had an 1 ½ hours to catch our connection back to LGA.
After solving that maze at the YYZ airport, check out of Canada, check in to the United States, follow the blue light, take the elevator, not the escalator even though both take you to the same place. It is enough to drive you mad. After all that, I had all three bags with me once we had cleared customs for the USA and I placed all three on the checked baggage belt prior to the security checkpoint and what happens??? One of the three bags does not make it to LGA.
The last flight from Toronto I had done several times for business with AA, but this was my first Air Canada flight on that segment. The air conditioner did not work for the first 30 minutes of the flight, which is almost the whole flight, and the steward was becoming very agitated with anyone who asked about it. Worse, some idiot sprayed a bottle of perfume on herself while the plane was taxiing. Or maybe all the traveling had made me crabby at that point. Landing in New York was a treat, we flew along the Hudson going south and had a beautiful view of Manhattan before u-turning over Staten Island, then going over the Verrazzano Bridge over Bay Ridge (our old neighborhood before moving to Australia), then on the regular approach turning right to cross over Forest Hills before landing at LGA.
Finally, Air Canada found the bag and they called us at 10pm that night. The airport called and asked why we did not pick up our bag. My fiancé told them because it was not on our plane and gave her the lost baggage claim service number she had received when she called them right after we realized it was not coming out on the conveyer belt. They delivered it to the apartment right at 7pm the next night as ordered. Kudos to Air Canada my first lost bag, and it was a pretty fast resolution. Whew!