Our flight to Toronto and attempt to get home turns out to be almost as exciting as our adventures while in Oregon. It really is a comedy of errors. 

We arrive at PDX for 6:00am a full three hours before our international flight home. There are no issues checking in, other than having to readjust items in our two suitcases to ensure both under the allotted weight limit. We have breakfast at the airport and head to our gate. At the gate, there is an announcement, if anyone has carry-ons they don’t mind checking as it is a full flight and there will not be a lot of overhead room. Dad checks his. We board the plane with no issues and begin to taxi out to the runway.

Now the story gets interesting.

The plane stops taxiing and pulls over to the side. After a few minutes, the pilot makes an announcement,  a light has come on and they are waiting for the someone to read the message. More time goes by and another announcement, the anti-skid brakes light has come on and parking brake has ceased. There will be a mechanic coming to us on the runway to see if the problem can be fixed here. The inside lights turn on, seatbelt lights off and flight attendants make numerous trips handing out water. At this point, I am thinking we can still make our connection in Dallas and happy we had a bit of a layover. More time passes and the pilot makes another announcement, they are unable to fix the brake issues and we will need to be towed back to the gate. Some more waiting, as we need to ensure all the planes on the runway have taken off, as the pilot put it, “we are going to be like salmon trying to swim upstream.” We do eventually get towed back to a gate.

As a bit of a nervous flyer, I am very grateful the brake issues are happening before we took off and not while in the air or when we were about to land. I understand things could be worse.

As we are towed back to the gate, the pilot makes another announcement. We will be disembarking the plane and the mechanics will fix the brakes which should take about two hours. If you were making a connection and going to miss it (this is us now) there are agents at the gate ready to help.

We are seated near the front of the plane and therefore near the beginning of the line to see the agents once we disembark. Kristen, the agent from Alaska Airlines, is trying to find a way to get us to Toronto. However, the computers are very slow and tech is called to come and support. It is soon realized that we will not be getting out of PDX today. She tells us that they are working to take off everyone’s luggage who will not be going back on the plane. Kristen, gives us vouchers for lunch and asks us to come back after we eat – there are lots of people in line behind us and they may be able to get connections to their destinations. We completely understand, no problem.

After lunch, we return to find Kristen waiting for us. She thanks us for our patience. The computers are still acting up but she has found us a flight out tomorrow morning. A direct flight to Toronto that will be leaving at 9am. However, because of the computer issues she has to issue a paper ticket. Kristen makes a hotel reservation for us at La Quinta Inn & Suites Portland Airport a hotel that has a shuttle and breakfast. Then Kristen, says she has some bad news …. our luggage did not get off the plane not even Dad’s carry on bag. Usually, I always care an extra outfit in my carry-on but not this time. I also bought some marionberry jam at the airport that won’t make it through security tomorrow morning. So there we are, no change of clothes, no pjs, not even a toothbrush. Kristen, gives us each a bag with some toiletries, vouchers for supper and tells us to go buy clothes and a bag to check tomorrow and to bring the receipts to her. We part ways.

As we are about to leave the airport, we decide to wait and see if we can check in early for our Air Canada flight. I mean, at this point we have been at PDX for 10.5 hours so what is a few more minutes. The Air Canada agent informs us that no we are not booked on that flight and it is already overbooked. I give her the confirmation number but no luck. Maybe computer issues must have prevent it from going through? The agent is able to get us on a 7am flight to Toronto with a layover in Vancouver. We take it.

We finally leave the airport and wait for the hotel shuttle. When we arrive at La Quinta, the staff are absolutely wonderful. They ask what other toiletries we may need, and tell us the shuttle will bring us to the mall close by so we can get some pjs and clothes. Once we have gotten some clothes, we call the hotel and the shuttle brings us to a restaurant and offers to bring our purchases back to the hotel. After dinner, we call the hotel and the shuttle picks us up again. What great service!

3:30 am wake up call and on the shuttle at 4:00am. We go check-in and go through security with no problems. We wait at our gate until time to board. We give our paper ticket and boarding pass to Michael who is working the Air Canada gate. He informs us that since the paper ticket is for a different flight (remember the 9am direct flight) we will be able to get to Vancouver but then we would be turned back to PDX. Since the flight is boarding, there is not enough time to get a new ticket. We head to Air Alaska when we realize our only luggage is on that plane. I run back to the gate and ask Micheal if there is any chance we are getting our bag off the plane (since I can see it taxing, I feel I already know the answer), he confirms that no our one piece of luggage will not be getting off the plane but will meet us in Toronto. He then informs me that the 9am flight is overbooked but 12 people haven’t checked in yet, so if 4 don’t show we can get on that plane and don’t need a new ticket. He will know by 7:30 if we will be able to get on the flight. I run (yes run) through the airport to tell my parents that there is a chance. We rush back to the Air Canada gate and wait ….. Well the other 12 people made their flight and we are left staring at the carpet some more.


Back to the Alaskan Airlines we go, and they call Kristen. Kristen is  in a meeting and an half an hour she will come to us at this gate. So we wait  ….. I am beginning to fear we might become like Tom Hanks in The Terminal.

Kristen, comes to the gate and is surprised to see us – this isn’t good she says. She tells us that she came in early and saw our flight change. We explained the 9am flight wasn’t confirmed and overbooked. She informs us there is a plane leaving at 10:00am and has a 40 minute layover in Vancouver. Kristen tells us to meet her at the gate, she is going to get the tickets, meet us there and ensure we get on the plane without any more problems. Again we rush to the gate. My fitbit is happy, by 9:30 am I already have 10 000 steps. Mom checks her email and sees that Alaskan Airlines has given each of us a credit for our next flight with them. This is a nice touch, maybe we can put it towards our next visit to Ben and Ellen (assuming we ever leave PDX.)

We get to the Air Canada gate, Micheal is waiting for us and Kristen. Kristen rushes to the gate and we are finally good to go. We have some time before boarding and are all hoping we can get into the air this time. We then realize in our 40 minute layover in Vancouver we are going to need to go through customs and security again – yikes! The plane from PDX boards, we get on and it takes off! We land in Vancouver International Airport and begin to rush. We stop for a quick bathroom break and then head towards customs. A lady who works at YVR asks where we are coming from and what our connection is. After hearing our response she gives us a quick connection sign and we are able to go through a different line – customs and security no problem. Well one small problem – I had a Diet Pepsi from PDX but couldn’t go through security with it again and YVR is Coke products. It is time to board the flight to get to Toronto. We board, no problem and even have seats together. A little sigh of relief but maybe also some apprehension will this flight be ok? We are in the air!! All is good. The flight attendants come for food orders and inform us that our food has been taken care of, thanks Alaskan Airlines!

We land in Toronto, exhausted and eager for the next 3.5 hours of our trip to get home. We go to baggage claim and of the 4 pieces of luggage we are hoping to find there is only one. The one from this morning (with only dirty clothes and no toiletries.) Off to the lost luggage booth we go. The man is unable to track it, maybe it is in Dallas, maybe back in Portland. He gives us each another small bag of toiletries and tells us our bags will be flown to North Bay and delivered to our home. The next day, two pieces of luggage find their way to home and mine takes another day. We are home.