first international trip

So, in travelling to Australia I was going to be travelling internationally for the very first time ever. Going to the U.S. just doesn’t compare.

My travel path was from Victoria to Vancouver. Vancouver to Los Angeles. Then LA to Brisbane. Sounds simple. Victoria to LA was fairly uneventful. My excitement on the Vancouver to LA flight was that Sarah MacLachlan was two rows ahead of me. In LA, however, things got interesting.

First was the fact that I got off in one terminal and had to get to another. I asked for assistance once I claimed my bag and the terminal employee directed me to where it was. So I walked for 40 minutes, pushing my luggage and lugging my carryon bag. It wasn’t until I got to the international departure terminal that I learned of the shuttle. So why terminal employee tell me? Cause it must have been so much more funny to have me walk, apparently. Sigh.

Second, I get to go through U.S. security. This tall, imposing guard asks me, “What’s the thing on your arm?” So I tell him what it is (compression garment) and what it’s for (lymphedema). He says, “You’re making that up.” I said that I have an emergency medic alert bracelet identifying the condition. Response? “Anyone can get that kind of thing made up.” So I asked him if it was allowed to use my phone to Google the condition and show him results. He said yes and…let’s just say that I was allowed to pass security. [Not so flattering thoughts in my head about him.]

But wait. There’s more. Next came the flight delay. I was supposed to begin boarding the Qantas flight at 11 p.m. at 11:15 p.m. there is an announcement that there is a mechanical problem with the plane and boarding would be in about an hour. At 12:15 a.m. there is an announcement that the problem was a little more than they thought, but they’ve got the part and they’re installing it. They advise that it shouldn’t be more than 2 more hours. At this point Qantas distributes food/snack packages to us. After all, all the kiosks/stores in the airport shut down at 11 p.m. At 2 a.m. Qantas announces that it was the wrong part, but the good news is that the right part is in stores, but it will take another couple hours to install and run safety checks. At that point I dropped to the floor and tried to get some sleep. I figured I could stay up to 2, but beyond that would be questionable. I did manage to sleep for about an hour to an hour-and-a-half. Qantas had distributed blankets and pillows to us. At 4 a.m. the kiosks/stores re-opened in the airport. And then we finally boarded at 4:30 a.m. and, of course, got into Brisbane 5 hours later. If there’s anything good about this, it’s that I was so tired that sleeping “all night” (er, all day my time) worked well. When it became 7:30 a.m. in Brisbane time, I forced myself to stay up and watch the video screen in front of me. I got in around 11:30 a.m. Brisbane time.

The return travel was Brisbane to LA, LA to Seattle, and Seattle to Victoria. At least that was the plan. Brisbane to LA was uneventful. Thank goodness. I guess the first blip was the timing problem in LA. I arrived in LA on Sunday morning and left LA on the Monday morning. Oy! So I had to spend the night in LA. I stayed in an airport area hotel and while I thought of taking one of those sight-seeing tours (you know, Hollywood sign, Chinese theatre, etc.), I was so bagged that I just stayed in and slept.

My departure from LA was to be at 6 a.m., meaning that I needed to be at the airport no later than 4:30 a.m. So naturally (not) I was up at 2:30 a.m. And that was the beginning of a VERY long day. As the plane backs out to taxi to the runway, the pilot comes on and says, “Uh, folks, we have a mechanical. The good news is that we have the replacement on-board, the bad news is we have to connect it and it’ll take a little while.” The plane pulls back into the gate. And I start paying attention to time. If the delay goes over one hour, I’ve missed my connection to Victoria. One hour 15 minutes later, we are underway.No doubt about it, I’d missed the connection flight.

Upon arrival in Seattle, I go to the customer service booth and identify myself and explain my problem. Before I’m even done, the lady behind the counter says, “WHAT are you doing HERE?” I answered, “Because I was told to come here.” [Said in a very confused voice.] She replies, “No..no..that’s not what I meant. When we heard the flight was delayed, we told LA to take you and the other two affected passengers off the plane and make arrangements there because we don’t have an available flight for THREE days.” After a few moments of stunned silence, and maybe a “Seriously??!!!” [I can’t remember, but knowing me I said something.] And then I got angry. I said I didn’t care how they made it happen, on what airline even, but get me home AND get my suitcase home TODAY. This was at 9:30 a.m. in Seattle. The earliest flight they could get me on was from Seattle to Vancouver and then Vancouver to Victoria. Departure from Seattle? 6:30 p.m. Awesome. Almost nine hours to KILL in an airport. Instead of getting home at 11 a.m. I got home at 11 p.m. I didn’t know if my suitcase tracked with me until I arrived in Vancouver. Bless me for having foresight to use a lime green luggage tag and have a brown suitcase.

And then came the jet lag. I didn’t have a brain for a week.

You might think that this might turn me off of travelling in the future. Nope. I don’t expect travel to go smoothly. Can’t wait for the next time, whenever that may be.

Oṃ śānti śānti śānti