Our recent trip to Boston, planned as a second honeymoon, almost didn’t happen. The days leading up to our departure had both of us watching the track of Hurricane Arthur. Our timing was impeccable – a hurricane headed for Halifax…. in July. I wrote about rolling with the inevitable punches traveling will throw at you from my recent experiences in Nashville. This trip to Boston was about to throw a haymaker.
It became pretty obvious that Arthur was setting its sights on a direct hit to Nova Scotia the Saturday morning we were scheduled to fly to Boston. Hope was gone for it tracking out to sea and once Air Canada granted fee-free changes, we took a calculated risk to move up our flight to the Friday afternoon before. The trouble with a hurricane hitting Halifax is that it will tend to hit Boston the day before it reaches us. I wasn’t convinced that we’d get out to Boston, but was hopeful if we started our journey early, we’d have more options out and around the storm. Sitting at the gate awaiting the flight to Boston, the sound of the passenger manifest being printed off about 40 minutes before the flight raised my spirits.
Then it happened. I glanced up to catch the dreaded word on the screen. CANCELED.
The Amazing Race challenge was on. We hurried into line at the gate, got on our cells and managed to get re-booked out to Ottawa around the storm with a flight on to Boston the next morning. We were very lucky. People just behind us in the line and a bit later on their phones weren’t able to get re-booked until two days later. When we got to the front of the line to get our new boarding passes we got our first pleasant surprise: Air Canada would be putting us up in Ottawa on their dime. Sweet! We made our way over to the domestic terminal gates and realized our seats weren’t together to Ottawa. I inquired if there was a way we could be seated together. Pleasant surprise number two: exit row seats to Ottawa and Boston! With a couple of hours until our flight, I was ready for the time-honoured tradition of killing time with an airport bar beer:
While waiting for our Ottawa flight, an older woman who was behind us in the line at the Boston gate earlier in the day asked my wife to watch her bag for a minute. She was clearly not a comfortable traveler and had never experienced a canceled flight before. We sat with her bag, and waited. And waited. She completely disappeared for 45 minutes, so long in fact, that I walked the terminal in search of her. Our (and her) flight to Ottawa was almost ready to board and my wife moved her bag and with a shocked face looked at me… “It’s empty”. I was seconds away from speaking with a gate agent about her disappearance and the unattended luggage when she magically reappeared. Small crisis averted. Interestingly, she did the same thing in Ottawa the next morning, leaving her bag with someone for upwards of a half an hour.
Less than two hours later we got to an eerily quiet Ottawa airport and waited for our hotel, meal and taxi vouchers. On this bonus night of travel, the hotel Air Canada picked for us didn’t have a restaurant rendering our meal vouchers useless. We walked a few streets over and dined on exquisite Swiss Chalet. While eating, we noted that all flights out of Halifax had been canceled for the next morning due to the storm. We were feeling pretty good about our travel plan decisions and made our way back to the hotel for a few hours of sleep before our morning flight out. At the airport early the next morning, we were in a state of mixed travel weariness and giddiness: we’d be getting to Boston as the wind, rain and clouds were just clearing out there as the front edge of the storm was arriving back home in Halifax:
The happy moment of boarding came and we made our way out to the plane on a beautiful Ottawa morning. We were winning our battle with Arthur:
The rest of the journey was standard fare with the exception of some armrest grabbing bad turbulence en route to Boston thrown in to remind us of how little we control when we travel. All in all, we ended up in Boston a half hour later than our original plans, but with another fun travel story added to our repertoire and some good laughs along the way.
I think we savoured Boston a bit more as the trip was in jeopardy of being completely written off before we left. Pleasant surprise number three: Our Boston hotel (Kimpton Nine Zero Hotel – don’t look elsewhere, just stay here, trust me!) was sympathetic to our plight and wanted to make the experience a bit more special. When we arrived, we were shown to a lovely upgraded room complete with chocolate dipped strawberries and a bottle of bubbly chilling on ice. Getting to enjoy this view of the Charles River, the Back Bay and Cambridge as the sun set each night made the trip that much more special.