Alas, the wondrous experience of my trip to Chicago came to an abrupt end as soon as I arrived at O'Hare to check into my flight. Despite the fact that I was 2 1/2 hours before my scheduled departure of 6:00 pm, the check-in counter process took a solid 35 minutes, as the staff spent inordinate amounts of time with four passengers who seemed to need help booking a world tour. I began to get rather grumbly and tried to calm myself down, as one of the three check-in agents essentially ignored us and kept scribbling notes, walking around, picking up the phone, scribbling more notes and then after about 20 minutes of this waved the woman in front of me over rather begrudgingly. This was an omen of things to come.
In any event I got my two boarding passes (to Toronto and then on to Kingston) and proceeded to the fun adventure that is U.S. airport security. I killed some time at a cafe, bought and browsed some magazines, and then it came time to head to the gate for the 17:25 boarding time. Alas! The electronic board read "Now 18:25". Hmm...well, these things happen. I'll go grab a treat and walk around. So, I wandered back to the gate and the board had changed again, reading "Now 19:00". Arg! At that point I spotted an acquitance of mine who is a member of the Queen's MBA Class of 2005. It was a thrill to meet her in the Chicago airport, and we had a fun reunion and complained about the delay. We then happened to look up to see that the board had changed yet again, reading "Now 20:00". Aaaaagh! Needless to say, I was now especially grumbly, and it was becoming clear that it was unlikely I would make my Kingston connection. On the plus side, I had my first of two political celebrity sightings. Former Canadian deputy Prime Minister John Manley was sitting in the small business class section of the Toronto-bound flight.
I went online at a little kiosk and logged on the Starwood site and booked myself into the Four Points Toronto Airport, just to be safe. Good thing. My Kingston flight was scheduled to leave at 11:15 ET and by the time we took off from Chicago, landed, taxied, then sat on the tarmac waiting for the ground crew to arrive, we actually left the plane at (you guessed it) 11:15. Uh...yeah...about going home...
So I resigned myself to my fate and went through customs (lovely fellow) and then waited for my delayed luggage (will this ever end?!), got out some Canadian currency and then waited for a cab, alongside my second politcal celebrity, NDP leader Jack Layton. I checked into the hotel at 12:05 am. By mighty strange cosmic coincidence there was another member of the Queen's MBA Class of 2005. Weird! He was delayed out of Calgary and was actually at the wrong hotel. We said a quick hello and goodbye. I waited on hold with Air Canada's "special reservation service" for 35 minutes. The lady was most polite, and I am booked on the 4:40 flight. The best part of all this is that as I write this I am watching the episode of Seinfeld where Jerry and Elaine are on a flight, and Jerry is upgraded to first class while Elaine struggles in economy. Sometimes you just have to laugh or you cry.