I couldn’t believe it, Maryam said some place cold?! No one ever wants to go some place cold. I’m not sure one can imagine just how excited I was. After tossing around a few destinations we quickly selected Lake Louise and Banff National Park as the top choice. After a month of researching and reaching out to the tourism board to selecting local activities that would give us both a fantastic opportunity to take pictures of the amazing scenery that region has to offer and enjoy the – albeit cold – outdoors, we were set. The investment in winter wear wasn’t cheap, but would be worthwhile in the long run, and I really needed a pair of proper snow boots, even if I wasn’t sure when I might wear the long johns! Bundled in wool socks and ski jackets we head to the airport at some unseemly hour of the morning to catch a stupid early flight.
At Dallas we found a bar directly across from our gate and decided to start our vacation off proper and have a beer with the ten minutes we had until boarding. We were in such high spirits. What could go wrong? Although I didn’t know Maryam that well, we had been co-workers for about a year. I knew she enjoyed traveling as much as I did. What I didn’t know was how well we would travel together. I didn’t give it too much thought being that we were only headed out for a weekend and our schedule was pretty full. The thought that we wouldn’t end up in Calgary 4 hours later and in the blink of an eye change our plans wasn’t even a considered thought.
Then it happened. Given 2 minutes to decide to get on a plane by myself and travel solo on what was meant to be a girls getaway, or say forget about it, let’s go somewhere else and make the best of it, is really not a lot of time. If I had already been seated on the plane when I got the news, I probably wouldn’t have gotten off. But as they started to board us, they quickly realized the crew wasn’t on board yet and sent the few of us priority boards back to the gate. Maryam had been not allowed to board, so being turned back, I joined her at the gate counter while she curiously stood waiting for someone to explain why she wasn’t allowed to board.
“Ma’am you cannot travel on this passport”. Excuse us? Did we hear that right? Her passport wasn’t due to expire for a few more months, but it was well outside of the three-month range. And this is Canada, practically a domestic flight, it was a domestic flight if you consider we still had to pay for luggage. This particular passport had been well-traveled and very well-loved. Was it the stamps from the Middle East? Is she being profiled? Is she black listed? She had just used in to go to Puerto Rico less than two weeks before. Evidently the ladies at the airline counter wouldn’t let her board because the passport was plain worn out – the back page was peeling apart.
WOW…disappointment. What do I do? What could I do? I didn’t have enough time to weigh my options. I am an organizer. Do I just not get on that flight and say let’s fly by the seat of our pants? Is she capable of doing that without freaking out? As we stood stunned, I couldn’t speak and my decision was there for made for me. The airline ladies ordered both of our luggage removed from the plane. Well, there it is. My first major travel hiccup…ever.
Our tickets had been purchased with my air miles, and not even with air miles of the airline we were flying with. We collected our luggage and as I sat on hold for over an hour with for my executive airline club, Maryam set to seeing if a manager would override the other ladies decision. The answer was no. The most the airline people could offer was telling us to go to the passport office…which was closed on a Saturday and wouldn’t reopen until the following Tuesday, the day we were suppose to be headed home. Maryam began to cancel all of our reservations for the following few days that I spent a month arranging. I finally got someone on the phone, and a shout out to British Airways for being so awesome, but… what were our options?
We sure as hell didn’t fly to Dallas to fly down the street to Huston, and we didn’t want to spend the weekend in Dallas, and definitely weren’t flying back to the east coast to end up in Atlanta… California, Las Vegas, Seattle, Denver, Chicago??? Nothing that same day… but wait, 7am tomorrow to Los Angeles… sure! Snow boots, wool socks and long johns in tow… we were headed to the amazingly year round good weather destination of LA!