Travel Tips

Mishaps & Misadventures – The Lucky Side of Missed Connections & Cancelled Flights

As you all know things don’t always go according to plan when your traveling and sometimes there are little occurrences that set you back. It’s just part of the world of travel and a good reminder that you really have no control over what the universe throws at you. Flights will be delayed, mother nature throws a tantrum now and then, cultures clash and misunderstandings will inevitably occur. I’ve decided to start this little series of short stories and anecdotes of just such misadventures that I’ve experienced while traveling.

Arriving at the airport only to discover that my flight has been cancelled or that I’ve missed my connection always makes me groan. These hiccups happen all to often and are usually a huge pain for travelers. Delays and cancellations can you leave you stranded somewhere you never intended on being in the first place. Other times things actually turn out better than the original plan! I’ve been lucky enough to experience the positive side (yes, sometimes they are positive!) of these missed connections and cancelled flights.

Delayed Flight

When K and I were flying home from Iceland, our original itinerary was as follows:

Reykjavik –> Boston –> Toronto –> Ottawa

Unfortunately, our flight out of Reykjavik was delayed by over an hour This meant by the time we landed in Boston we had 30 min to make our connection. Of course we missed our connection as we had to collect our bags and go through immigration before re-checking our luggage and going through security again.

So after immigration, K and I followed the group of other stranded travelers to the customer service desk. We were dreading the news that we would be abandoned in the city or re-routed on some awful flights. To our great surprise and huge relief, we actually ended up on a better and more direct flight than our original itinerary! Instead of flying to Toronto and then Ottawa, we had a nice 2 hr layover in Boston. We were starving and were able to grab some dinner after which we caught a direct flight to Ottawa. And the cherry on top was that we would be landing in Ottawa within 30 min of our original arrival time!

Cancelled Flight

On the way home from one of our snowboarding trips to western Canada, K and I found ourselves at the Vancouver airport after flying there from Kelowna. On landing we were greeted with the news that our onward flight had been flat out cancelled. Our original itinerary was as follows:

Kelowna –> Vancouver –> Toronto –> Ottawa

It was late on a Saturday afternoon and the airport was packed. Fearing that we very well might be stuck in Vancouver for the night, we cautiously approached the Air Canada customer service desk. The attendant informed us that we were already re-booked on the next flight to Toronto but then we’d have to wait until early the next morning to catch our final (and shortest) flight home from Toronto to Ottawa. We would be arriving in Toronto much too late and would miss the last flight that night. This was not good news.

Weather is one of the most common causes of flight delays.

Weather is one of the most common causes of flight delays.

Not wanting to accept this, K and I did some research and soon discovered there was a direct flight from Vancouver to Ottawa. It was departing at almost the same time as our newly rescheduled flight to Toronto. We asked about this flight but were told it was fully booked, though we could wait on stand-by.

As luck would have it, both flights were departing from gates right beside each other and within minutes of each other. So while the flights began to board, we anxiously waited in the middle, not sure which plane we would get on. With only a few minutes left to board our flight to Toronto we were given the wonderful news that we could get on the direct flight home to Ottawa!

Much to our relief, we made it home at the same time our original (but cancelled) flight would have and again, more direct. Our luggage didn’t make the flight but we were going home so it really didn’t matter. The airport delivered our bags the next day right to our house. It was a small price to pay in order to avoid spending a night in the airport!

Full Day Delay

Last spring I was in Nicaragua volunteering for a week. When my week of volunteer work was over, I planned on flying to Roatan, Honduras to become a certified scuba diver.

On the morning I was to leave Nicaragua, I arrived at the Managua airport at the ungodly hour of 5 am to catch my early flight. I was to fly from Managua, Nicaragua to San Salvador, El Salvador, before continuing on to Roatan, Honduras. My layover in San Salvador was very short and I would be arriving on Roatan nice and early so I could catch a boat to the island of Utila.

Small island off the coast of Utila, Honduras.

Small island off the coast of Utila, Honduras.

Upon arriving at the Managua airport, I was promptly informed that my first flight to El Salvador was delayed and I would not be making my connection to Roatan. As a result, I would be stuck in Managua for a full 24 hrs and was told to come back tomorrow for the same flights.

This caused me to panic a bit as I had already contacted a dive company on Utila and was set to begin my scuba diving course the next morning! Being delayed a full day might interfere with my scuba course. Looking for alternatives, I asked about catching a later flight. I was told this would not be possible as they only fly to Roatan once a day. The attendant said it was better for me to be stuck here in Managua than San Salvador, and it would be much easier to do the whole thing tomorrow instead. I continued asking about any other flight or airline that could get me to Roatan today but told I was out of luck.

No flying today!

No flying today!

As I began to come to terms with this news and accept that I would have to delay my scuba course, the attendant handed me a hotel voucher as well as three meal vouchers that would cover all my expenses for the next 24 hrs. She explained that the airline would be putting me up in a hotel down the road, which included free transfers to and from the airport. I guess I could deal with hanging out at a resort for 24 hrs!

Truth be told, I was a bit tired from my week of volunteer work. Having a day to myself to relax and chill before starting a diving course was exactly what I needed. I spent the day enjoying the luxury of a resort, taking naps by the pool, catching up on some writing and in the heat of the afternoon and chilling in my beautiful air-conditioned room (I had not had any A/C during my time volunteering so this was a very nice luxury).

Not a bad place to be "stuck" for 24 hrs!

Not a bad place to be “stuck” for 24 hrs!

The next day I made it to Roatan without any incidents and my dive company was super relaxed about my predicament. I had contacted them once I found out I would be delayed and they said they would simply begin my dive course whenever I arrived. You gotta love the laid back attitude of the Caribbean!

On The Bright Side

Although airline delays and flight cancellations are just a normal, though usually unpleasant part of traveling, sometimes things work out for the better. I’ve had my fair share of not so great experiences but sometimes these delays are exactly what I needed.

As travelers we really have no control over the weather, mechanical issues and other unforeseen flight delays. The best thing you can do is look for the positive side of these delays and who knows, things might just work out for the better!

What’s the worst or best flight delay you’ve encountered?

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