Jun 23, 2019

25 hours of airports and airplanes

Day one of a two day trip to get us home began yesterday, Friday, June 21st when we awoke at 0330/3:30am.  Neither of us slept well, both worried about sleeping through the iPhone alarm or the possibility that I had set it incorrectly and that it might not go off. Final items were locked into the suitcases and stowed into our two personal items.  I had prebooked Uber and that was another worry as to whether the car would show up. It did and was only a few minutes late. Good deal for 14.4 Euro and a thirty minute ride.

Lisbon airport was chaos at that hour of the morning.  They have implemented a new self serve check in system where you need to figure out how to use the machine and print your luggage labels and then load your bags onto a conveyor belt a bit further along. That machine is supposed to automatically scan and read the luggage tag, only ours would not work. So we then had to move our bags to yet another counter where there was a human being who also had trouble scanning our luggage.  He finally did it manually and we were off walking and walking and walking. According to my Fitbit we had a 5,000 step workout.  It was very good that we checked in a full ninety minutes ahead of time. By the time we got to the gate the aircraft was boarding.

Sunrise as we left Lisbon @ 6:20AM.

Adios Lisbon, we will be back in a few hours.

Now this is where it gets somewhat complicated. We were flying to Madrid (where we landed in Spain once we left Greece) and once there we had to collect our luggage and trudge through the airport and go up to the departure level. Here we checked in to travel back to Lisbon 😯 Yes we were flying directly back to Lisbon from Madrid where we had  close to a six hour layover before boarding our flight to Toronto, Canada.

Returning to Lisbon midday.

The original aqueduct which is no longer in use.

Last summer I booked us on our free business class points tickets from Kelowna to Vancouver to Montreal to Istanbul and to our destination in Athens.  Four flights that took two full days. After five days in Athens and our one week cruise we flew to Madrid where we began our five city ( Madrid,Toledo, Cordoba, Granada and Seville) tour of Spain. We traveled by bus and train and flew from Seville via Lisbon to Marrakech and later back through Lisbon to Porto at our expense and finally by train to Lisbon, our final destination. However we absolutely had to board our return flight home from Madrid. There was no way around it, believe me I tried every trick in the book to get around it. There was no way we could stay in Lisbon where we already were and board there. One of my three careers was working with Air Canada so I knew that we had no choice. We could not have both an open jaw and a stopover on the same ticket. Fortunately the one way fare between Lisbon and Madrid was only 60.00USD/80.00CAD each.

Waiting in the Lisbon lounge.

My cork purse. The coloured parts are indicative of the Portuguese tiles.

We got through the check in process in Madrid with no problem. It wasn’t until a few hours later in the business class lounge when I was trying to nap that it came to me that the Tap Airlines agent had tagged our luggage all the way through to Kelowna. That was not correct as we had to pick them up in Toronto in order to clear Canada customs. Plus we had to overnight in a hotel as we arrived too late to make a connecting flight to Kelowna. I was very tired and feeling weak from lack of sleep so Colin offered to check out the situation of our already tagged bags. Of course I was right and the bags needed to be pulled and retagged to Toronto.  He kept being told that he had to come back in thirty minutes. Almost two hours later he was given our new luggage tags. Fortunately I regained some energy before we had to go to the gate to board our flight back to Lisbon.  In the last two weeks, we had been through this airport four times and spent three of our long layers in a business lounge. This time it was in the TAP lounge which was very crowded. It took about ten minutes to score a place to sit. Fortunately Colin can doze anywhere. I can’t and kept wishing that I was back in bed sleeping in our Lisbon Airbnb. The time passed quickly and soon we were at the gate waiting to board our flight to Toronto.

Dinner menu from Lisbon to Toronto.

Relaxing after take off.

When we were checked in back in Madrid earlier in the morning, I noted that we had the seats that I had requested last July. At check in on the Lisbon to Toronto flight, they handed us new boarding passes showing that we were in Row 1 and not Row 2.  I pointed out the error but was told sorry, there had been an aircraft change and the flight was full and we were stuck with those seats. Yes they were business class but front row seats are undesirable as you can’t have your bag or even your purse at your feet all the time as there is no place to stow them under a seat in front of you. I asked again to be changed and even spoke to a supervisor who would do nothing. I told him that we had booked almost a year ago and specially requested our seats. Last year we had front row seats on the same flight and were not happy. I also pointed out that I had been given a boarding pass that very morning with the correct seats and that we also were one of the first to check in to board. I asked if he could please change us back and to give someone else the front row. He refused and said that if I had asked earlier he would have. Once again I patiently explained that this was the first I had heard of the change and showed him my boarding passes printed out at 9:00AM Lisbon time, it was now 5:30PM.  The only thing he suggested was that we send an email with our complaint once we got home. The thing is, is that last year coming back from Barcelona we were on the same Lisbon- Toronto flight and had front row seats which we did not enjoy.

We were disappointed as this was likely our second last business class flight in our lives, unless we won the lottery. Nothing to do but change our attitude and make the best of it. After the meal Colin slept while I finished a book and started another. Eventually I put the seat out flat and with a very comfy pillow and lovely quilt like cover, napped for two hours.

Sunset as we were landing in Toronto.

The flight landed about twenty minutes early. After another very long walk (despite flying, I, was still getting my steps in) we got to passport control where once again we lost the battle with the machine and had to go through primary inspection. It was not an issue and we headed over to pick up our luggage. Another perk of flying business is that your luggage comes off first. As we approached the carousel Colin was being paged. Turns out that one of our bags was still in Lisbon. Pretty amazing that they knew what had happened before we did.  Next we had to fill  out special forms for Canada Customs and were given instructions as to what to do once we landed in Kelowna.

Once we gathered our one suitcase we had to check in with a special Custom’s agent who wanted to know the total amount of money we had spent and what were the two most expensive items. Her next question was which of the items was in the lost bag. I could not give her a proper answer. Some was in both but possibly they were all in the lost piece of luggage. I truly did not know. At this point we had been awake for 24.5 hours and I, not being able to doze anywhere easily, was close to losing it. I was so tired and now just a bit stressed. In frustration she sent us to yet another Custom’s agent who asked a few easy questions and we were released.

We found the shuttle location and soon where checking into our hotel room. Colin went down to the restaurant to get us some wine and came back empty handed. There was no way he was going to spend $54,00 for a bottle. We are definitely no longer in Europe.

Meanwhile I had opened the small suitcase and done inventory. Colin’s clothes, toiletries and my shoes were all in the missing bag. I later discovered that my nightie and face creams were there as well.  We made the best of the situation, showered and went to bed.

That has to be one my longest travel days ever.  But we were back in Canada. Next post will hopefully find us back home.

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8 responses so far

8 Responses to “25 hours of airports and airplanes”

  1. George Yates says:

    Oh my, that sure does not sound like nice trip at all, probably why try to avoid flying anymore, Think we will stick to our rv and cruise ships.
    Good luck getting home safely, rest us and retrieve your luggage.

  2. Linda says:

    I always say I’d rather lose a bag on the way home than on the way out. Of course, I’d rather not lose a bag at all. Sorry your trip home was such a troublesome one. I hate it when airline employees refuse to be considerate.

  3. Maxx Trails says:

    What an exhausting trip … but thanks for posting a picture of the cork purse, I love it!

  4. Dolores says:

    Oh, what an end to wonderful trip!!! Don’t know about u but I am exhausted just in the reading!!?

  5. Patrick says:

    There is nothing better than sleeping in your own bed.

    Welcome home
    Patrick and Ruthe

  6. Jannose says:

    OMG!! Welcome back to Canada. Hopefully we will see you in September!

  7. It never ceases to amaze me when airlines can leave one of two suitcases behind that were checked in together. It happened on our last trip to Europe. Hubby was missing one, I had mine, one of the boys were missing one and one had his. They both came the next day. Westjet gave us a $100 credit for driving to the airport to fetch it though.

    I love your cork purse – very pretty!

  8. Suzanne says:

    Oh, wow! That’s a long day! I can imagine it will take a few days to recover from that. Maybe you can rationalize a couple of meals out until you are rested up. 😉

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