Lessons Learned: My Travel Nightmare

Everyone has one of these stories. The story that makes you second guess your decision to travel. I'm not going to lie, I have several. I've missed (or come within minutes) of missing just about every flight I've ever been on. It's kind of my thing.

But this time in particular it wasn't my fault. I learned the hard way that sometimes the cheapest flight isn't always the best option. I was coming home from a solo trip from Brussels. My flight was from Brussels to London, London to Toronto, and finally home from there.

The first leg went off without a hitch. Landed in London and had a little bit of time before the flight to Toronto. The flight left London right on time, but actually landed an hour or so later than expected. This put me in a panic because my layover was only about 2 hours.

We landed in Toronto and the drama begins. Everyone has to go through customs, even if they are not staying in Canada. The line is incredibly long, no one is letting me move up, and I've got about 45 minutes until my flight leaves. When I finally go up to the immigration officer, he literally just lets me go because I'm heading to the US anyway. Now we're down to 30 minutes.

Post immigration, I have to grab my suitcase and recheck my bag upstairs in the departures. I wait for my bag, which of course takes forever at this point. I run up the stairs to drop off my bag. If only it were that easy.

There's a huge line for bag drop off and US Immigration. This line takes forever. When it's finally my turn to put my bag in the machine, it stops working. There's a regular security conveyor belt that a woman tells me to put my bag in. At this point I am freaking out because my suitcase is filled with Belgian souvenirs (read beer) and obviously this machine is going to see this. Not only does it pick it up, but I'm watching my bag go back and forth as they figure out what to do. Fortunately, the woman who had me put the bag on the conveyor belt came by and saw the confused faces. She grabs my suitcase and it's headed down to the bottom of the plane. We're down to 15 minutes before the flight is scheduled to leave.

Now I am finally headed to immigration. I hand the immigration officer my passport. She looks at the picture, back at me, and back at the picture. Jokingly, I say "Don't believe it's me?" She responds, "No, I don't. Do you have a license or another form of ID?" Now keep in mind, my passport is only about 3 years old. I haven't changed that much. Not to mention, my plane ticket says I'm traveling to the city I was born in so how suspicious can I be? I'm just trying to get home.

I give the officer my license. She compares the two pictures to my face. She looks up at me and says the signatures on my license and passport don't match my signature on the immigration form and asks me to sign something else. At this point, I want to tell her what I'm thinking but I also don't want to prolong this conversation. So I go along with it. I sign the paper again. Just when I think it's over, she starts asking the usual immigration questions (purpose of your trip, what are bringing back with you, etc.) with the kindest look on her face. I am just trying to get to the end of this hall so I can catch this flight.

When she hands me my passport, I run out of immigration. I look around to see which gate my flight is leaving from, only to discover that my flight is nowhere to be found.

So there I was. At the gate, with no flight, and almost at tears. The story only gets crazier from here. Click here for part 2.

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