A (bad) day in the life of a wine writer

I’m currently in Canada. I’ve just spent four wonderful days in the Okanagan Valley, but when it came time to leave, things didn’t go so well. Maybe I should have just stayed there?

The day began with an alarm set for 0450.

  • 0510: get into my hire car and head to Penticton Airport, for my 0625 Westjet flight to Toronto via Calgary.
  • 0525: arrive at the airport. Penticton is a tiny airport. One of the smallest I’ve flown through, and this is important for later in the story. It has no facilities: just two vending machines and a further two airside. There’s a seating area either side of security. That’s it.
  • 0530: drop the car keys into the National after-hours return box (they don’t open until late).
  • 0535: go through security, where I realize that I don’t have my passport. Panic! I remember putting it into my pocket. I travel so often and so I always put things into the same pockets. I have dropped it somewhere.
  • 0536: retrace all my steps, which doesn’t take long in a tiny airport. No sign.
  • 0537: retrace my steps again. Same result. Peer into the now locked rental car to see if I can see it (keys now out of reach in the return box).
  • 0540: realize with a sinking feeling that I’m going to miss my flight. Call taxi to go back to the Lakeside hotel to see if I dropped it in the car park, or my room.
  • 0600: arrive at Lakeside and do a thorough search. Realise with a sinking feeling in my stomach that I could be in a logistical hell of my own making. Sit in reception and google ‘lost passport.’ Realise that an emergency passport is not going to work with my coming itinerary (Toronto-New York State-Toronto-Victoria-Portland-McMinville-Victoria-London). And how do I get to a consulate without a passport? Will a driving licence work on domestic flights?
  • 0625: leave a message with the National office at Penticton. Could the passport be in the car still? Would they have a look?
  • 0700: I get a call. They looked, and they found it!! Disaster averted, slightly. Now to the airport again. But how am I going to get to Toronto? Penticton has hardly any flights. But I find that there is an Air Canada flight via Vancouver at 0815. It could be problem solved.
  • 0715: Get to the airport, and buy a new ticket. CA$712. Ouch. But at least I’ll get to Toronto more-or-less on time. Big wave of relief.
  • 0800: On board flight. Engines start and run for 10 minutes (turbo prop: this is a Bombardier 400). Then switch off. Repeat. Mechanical problem.
  • 0830: Deplane. Head to the departure lounge again.
  • 0900: Realize I’ve missed my connection. Air Canada book me onto another flight.
  • 1000: My app tells me the new departure time is 2030. That’s not going to work. Would be stranded overnight in Vancouver.
  • 1030: We have to leave airside. Queue up and get a new flight out, leaving 1245. I’m beginning to feel tired. Also a bit hungry. Don’t have coins for vending machines, and my cards don’t work in them, so no chance of anything to eat.
  • 1315: After another delay we actually leave from Penticton for the 45 minute flight to Vancouver. I’m now on board the Toronto flight which left late from Vancouver.

I think I have been guilty of being a bit arrogant about how well travelled I am, and how good I am at travel. Today has been a self-inflicted, but also partly airline-inflicted hell. It’s a good humbling experience, and it’s also a good lesson in patience, and being accepting of things that you have no control over.

I’ll go to bed (when I finally get there) grateful that I didn’t actually lose my passport, because that would have led to astonishingly difficult situations, and would have probably ended this trip early. And I’ll also go to bed a bit humbler, which has to be a good thing, eh?

[Postscript: I got to White Oaks in Niagara at 0008. My chums were still up drinking so I joined them. A nice end to the day.]

3 comments to A (bad) day in the life of a wine writer

  • Man, I had anxiety attacks just reading that. I guess, it doesn’t always make you stronger. sometimes, what doesn’t kill you leaves you stranded in a remote Canadian airport weakened by lack of sustenance.
    Glad it worked out.

  • My partner lost her passport in Auckland (it also turned up in the hire car, but we had gone by then) and the GB Consulate issued her a temporary one more or less straightaway.

  • Sue and I are so glad that everything worked out OK in the end. We also had a sinking feeling when you appeared at the hotel lobby as we were checking out. Best wishes for better luck in your upcoming journeys!

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