Day 9 of our 9 day trip to Germany in the fall
We decided the previous night that that we were going to give today a shot with the standby. Despite the loads looking quite terrible because of Hurricane Sandy, cancelled flights and misconnects, we had a glimmer of hope when those same misconnects allowed Chantelle, Jeff and Emily Ho to get on the previous day. So the night before we changed our booking for the 1:55PM flight connecting in Ottawa today to try.
So we woke up at 10:00AM and by 11:00AM we were checked out and in the main lobby having our free breakfast because I forgot to mention that we had no heat at all in our apartment (they tried to fix it but the whole building was out).
In the lobby we had wifi again and found out that the 3 had successfully landed back in Toronto. We still didn’t head from Edison so I called him via Skype. Apparently he was in London but there were a lot of problems there because a lot of eastern state flights were cancelled so many paying customers were rerouting through Toronto. He said he was going to keep trying and that he’d keep us posted. I hope everything worked out for him. Everyone felt bad because he probably could’ve made it on the direct flight from Frankfurt the day before instead of trying London today. He was the one that needed to go to the most as well.
The Edison Saga
So some of you have asked me for more details on what happened to Edison so here’s the point form:
- Edison was the one person in our group that REALLY needed to get back to Toronto to work on Tuesday.
- Edison was placed on Mari’s pass which allows him to fly standby on his own with Air Canada. The only problem with this is that when you fly on your own you’re placed on the lowest priority possible (C5) vs what flight attendants would normally fly with (C2).
- As a result he and the group felt that he had better chances to go home if he tried to fly out on Sunday instead of just Monday.
- We constantly checked flight loads and it wasn’t looking so promising in Frankfurt. London looked a lot better at the time because there are 6 flights that run everyday vs 4 in Frankfurt. Edison bought confirmed fare with Lufthansa from Frankfurt to Toronto ($350).
- When Edison landed in London there was some sort of fiasco with being stuck inside the airport but being escorted out because the customs agents weren’t there anymore (arrived late?). That part i’m not sure about.
- His plan was to just sleep in the airport but turns out Heathrow fully locks down so he was kicked out fully. It was raining and cold outside so he only had a few places to go. He found a parking garage across from the airport and slept on a bench somewhere there still exposed to the cold. He showed us his hand after and it had gotten frost bites or something. His knuckle area was all bloodied.
- The next morning was full chaos in Heathrow because of Hurricane Sandy. Flights all across the Eastern seaboard in the US were cancelled. As a result all those passengers were trying to figure out alternate routes back.
- British Airway/United and everyone else looked to Air Canada.
- Gate agents told Edison that the chances of him getting home on standby (C5 nonetheless) were pretty low and there was the chance that the Toronto airport might shut down.
- Edison had no choice but to line up at the ticket counter and snag one of the last few tickets back to Toronto via Ottawa ($1600)
- The last punch in the gut was when we were reunited in Ottawa on our flight back from Frankfurt -> Ottawa -> Toronto
Would We Make It Back to Toronto on Standby?
At 11:35AM we left for the main train station. Getting to the airport was the easiest that I’ve ever done in ANY city. It literally took 15 minutes on the U-Bahn S8/9 on platform 103. We bought a group all-dat ticket for 5 which only costed 14.80 EUR as opposed to 4.50 EUR each.
Going through the airport was pretty simple and straight forward. We got our standby boarding passes through the machines, went through security (super friendly, brilliant system to bring the trays back to the front), quick stamp at customs and then straight to our gate at B42. There wasn’t much we could do because we had to wait until all the passengers boarded first and then see if anyone missed their connection or something like that.
We spent the rest of the time hanging out by the gate and you know me…trying to blog. I tried to get into the Lufthansa lounge and to my surprise I was able to and allowed one guest too. I asked if I could bring more (including a whole sob story about the hurricane and standby) but she was adamant on following the rules. I went up to check it out and ate a few quick things. I couldn’t spend too much time up there because I didn’t know when we might be called.
In my head, I didn’t think there’d be any chance for us to get on. I even joke around when they started calling out names to go up to the front desk. And then the impossible happened. At 1:30PM they called out “Chan, Miura and Chow”. Emily, Mari and Dave got on! I was so happy for them. The bad news was she said there were only 3 seats available. I told them I’d be ok to wait for the next one.
The gate agent told me to wait a bit longer. They called out one guy multiple times in a span of 10 minutes. Then finally at 1:40PM she called out my name. I got on as well. The other guy must’ve been delayed on his connecting flight or something of that sort. Woot! What a stroke of luck!
So here I am on my flight to Ottawa after watching Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Snow White and Artist.
Pho dinner with the whole group and then home!!
Another great trip to Europe that ill never forget. Grateful for a great girlfriend, building on new friendships, cheap flight tickets and coming back home with less problems than all the hypothetical situations we were coming up in our heads all trip long.
Tips & Tricks
- In Germany always look for those group of 5 tickets. They seem to exist everywhere. Even if you don’t have a full group of 5 it may still be worth it. Make sure you search around on the ticket machines
- Wake up at 10:00AM
- Check out of Five Elements Hostel and eat breakfast by 11:00AM
- Leave for Frankfurt airport at 11:35AM
- Wait anxiously at gate B42 in Terminal 1 for boarding of AC839 starting at 1:00PM
- Check out the Lufthansa lounge right across
- Em, Mari and Dave get seats at 1:30PM
- I get a seat in this flight at 1:40PM
- Land in Ottawa 4:45PM
- Catch 6:00PM AC 463 flight to Toronto
- Land in Toronto at 7:00PM
- Pho dinner with the whole gang
- Trip finito!