Got to the airport 3 hours early for our flight. We were in a line, then we were told it would be faster to do the web-check-in. It kept failing after putting in all our information. Lost our spot in line... re-lined up. Checked in and got boarding passes. Security was a cinch because we were traveling inside Canada (Edmonton to Vancouver). Ate at Tim Horton's, boarded the plane and took off.
Arrived in Vancouver with the exciting prospect of not having to find our luggage and re-check it. Supposedly they now just show you an image of the bags and you confirm that it's yours. Those who have had to scramble to get luggage re-checked in Vancouver can appreciate our blissful anticipation.
Then when we arrived at customs we find out that you can't even bring the laptop case, or any carry on that is bigger than a sheet of 8.5x11' paper. We have to go back and check the laptop case and proceed to customs. They don't have the pictures of our luggage. We wait. The computers are down. We wait. Finally they whisk us through and say everything is good (I never do get to see the pictures of the bags).
We make it to the plane 2 minutes before its scheduled departure. They hold it for another 1/2 hour or more to allow all the passengers to arrive. Finally we depart.
As we are taking off we hear a loud noise that felt rough in the plane. No one says anything so we think it must have been a big bump. We fly out over the Pacific Ocean. We eat snacks, fidget, talk, laugh, sleep; and then we realize the plane is heading in the opposite direction from a few moments ago. None of the flight attendants are saying much at this point so we just kind of hang out and let our imaginations run with what is happening.
Finally we hear that we blew a tire on take-off and we need to head back to Vancouver because we can't land a compromised aircraft in Hawaii.
We fly towards Vancouver at a lower altitude with more turbulence. We find out that we will be landing in full emergency procedure. Tensions rises. The flight attendants explain how they will yell commands to us as we land and this is part of the procedure. We prepare Elysse by telling her that we will play a game with the flight attendants as we land, and we have to do exactly what they are shouting. She likes this.
We land safe and sound.
We get shuffled off the plane, clear Canadian customs because technically, after having cleared US customs on departure, we were in the USA.
We wait to reclaim our bags and then meet up with the rest of our plane-mates to receive instructions about where we will be staying.
I wait for 1 duffel bag after everyone else has their luggage. I wait some more. We go talk to someone and fill out a form.
We go and wait in a line for over an hour. The nice people at WestJet get us Hotel authorizations and food vouchers for the hotel & airport.
We are the last group to pass through the process. We head out to catch the shuttle to the Sandman hotel. It doesn't come. One of the WestJet guys calls them and gets thing sorted out. The Sandman shuttle guy had picked up what he thought was the last of us & then took off.
The last 18 from the returned flight get shuttled off to the Richmond Sandman Hotel (15 min from the airport) We get rooms, cash in some food vouchers for room service meals from the Moxie's restaurant in the hotel. The boys work out in the workout room. Can't sleep so I post this and then go to bed. So much for new year's eve!
We'll try again for Honolulu tomorrow (New Year's Day).