The plane started boarding shortly after 6:30pm. We are now finally leaving Manitoba and heading home. I was pleased to hear the announcement made before take off that we will be landing in 2 hours. We were heading to Hamilton airport flying through Swoop airlines. It’s our first time to fly through Swoop and out of Hamilton. But the price was good so we gave it a shot. The flight to Manitoba went extremely well with a very smooth landing so we were pleased with that and were looking forward to yet another smooth ride home. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
My husband and I couldn’t get a seat close to each other without additional cost so we just went with it. I had baby Edward in our flight to Manitoba, so this time I sat with our girls, while Ian took the baby. Our seat was in the middle of the plane, while the boys were way at the back. While ascending I heard a baby screeching in the background. I felt bad for my husband. I know how hard take off and landing can be for their little ears. How do you explain to a baby to swallow when your ears hurt due to pressure to make it better? Right? So, I nurse. But my husband can’t do that. I thought of the candy cane we got in our Christmas stockings and thought sucking it would help. So I grabbed one of the treat bags and headed to seat 27 where my boys were. To my surprise, I saw Edward all snuggled up with daddy fast asleep. They look cozy! I felt relieved it wasn’t him fussing.
My girls played well together. Not once did I call their attention. They were in the middle of colouring when we heard the announcement to land. So I stowed the trays away and put all their colouring sheets and crayons back to Mira’s luggage. I thought to myself this is going so smoothly… it’s too good tot be true. I looked out the window and could not see the ground. There’s a thick fog. The descend felt like forever. And then there was an announcement shortly after about the captain will try again to land. I didn’t hear it clearly. I just knew we couldn’t land so we circled around. Mira told me her ears hurt. So I grabbed a candy cane and broke them into pieces to give to her and Diane. Our pilot attempted to descend for the third time but the strong winds and poor visibility forced him to change course and fly to Toronto and land at Pearson instead. The multiple attempts to land made some of the kids (and grown ups too) to feel sick to their stomach. Diane, who just started having a cold threw up all over her shirt, pants and seat. She felt terrible. I told her I would clean her up as soon as I get something to wipe her down. I did what I have never done in the many flights I have been – I pressed the call button. It made a ding sound. I waited for a flight attendant to come. I kept assuring my toddler I would clean her up soon. More than half an hour passed, no one came. The poor kid fell asleep covered in stinky and slimy vomit. The seat belt sign was still on. The guy one row across from me started feeling sick too. His wife rubbed his back as he hurled into a small bag. They pressed the call button too. And that’s when I noticed another call button was lit up 4 rows in front of me. No flight attendant came.
So I finally unbuckled myself, stood up and went to my husband who has the diaper bag and asked for some wet wipes. Our baby was still fast asleep (surprisingly) in his arms so he couldn’t get the wipes right away. The flight attendant who saw me and another person standing asked us to sit down, buckle up, and remain seated. Unless she’s handing me paper towels to clean up my toddler, I was determined to stand until I have the wet wipes in my hand. She repeated her statement. At this point, I was fuming inside. Did she think I was refusing to sit just to be a nuisance? What about asking me why I’m standing and how can she help me instead of repeatedly asking me to sit? My head was heavy and my stomach was upset. I was exhausted with very little sleep. I, myself, was trying not to hurl what I just ate. I almost gave her a piece of my mind when my husband finally got the wipes and gave them to me. So I marched back to my seat and swallowed a not so nice comment that almost escaped my mouth.
I cleaned up all the vomit that I could. Diane remained sleeping. The texture and the stench made me gag. When we finally landed at Pearson, some people clapped. We landed safely, that should count! However, I wasn’t as much in the cheering mood as some of them were. I was still ticked by the unresponsiveness of the flight attendants. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be ungrateful. I was thankful to the pilot for making the call to land us safely in Pearson. But it was hard to be overjoyed when you are exhausted and trying to keep it together. We waited for another half and hour or so for the bridge to come before they opened the plane and started letting people out. Being New Year’s eve and all, the airport was under staff, hence the wait.
Another issue that arose because it’s the 31st of December was that there were no bus services that can take us all to Hamilton airport. So Swoop airlines offered a $200 max reimbursement per family for any transportation service we find provided that there’s a receipt.
When we got to the airport, I took Diane to the washroom to wipe her down some more. And then we all headed to the baggage claim for our luggage where everyone was waiting for their suitcases too. Ian walked around with the girls as he figured out how we can get to Hamilton. Five seconds before midnight a group of stranded people like us did a loud countdown. “5-4-3-2-1.” The rest of the people sitting beside them chimed in. In unison, they said “happy new year”! I wasn’t as thrilled as they were.
I took Edward out of his car seat and let him crawled around. He was all smiles, giggling as I walked behind him. He pulled himself up holding on to the luggage carousel and looked at me beaming with gladness. I think it was my turning point. I know I’m exhausted and there’s nothing I can do about that until I am back home resting on our comfy bed. But I sure can change my attitude. And so I let Edward’s laugh drown away all that’s annoying that night. When Ian came back with the girls, the luggage carousel just started moving. With it, the events of that night moved in a much faster pace. Ian asked me to start walking with the girls to the taxi zone as he waited for our second luggage to emerge. I rolled one oversize suitcase. Diane carried her backpack. Mira hauled her own luggage. The 3 of us followed the signs to the taxi zone. As we were walking, an older lady in the same predicament as everyone else in that flight approached me and said “your kids are sooo good.” I looked at my girls and their messy hair, looking worn out yet have not complained one bit despite all that has happened. “Yes they are.” I said. “They are a blessing!”. My heart beamed with joy. I was a tired momma, but a proud one at least!
Edward cried a bit during our drive to Hamilton airport, but I just stroke his hair non-stop, sung him songs, and patted him gently until he fell asleep. Diane leaned on me and I cuddled her with one arm. When I had a free arm, I reached out to Mira, sitting at the back all by herself and gave her hand a squeeze. She gave me a gentle smile. An hour went by quickly and we made it to Hamilton where our van was parked.
Three more hours on the road and we finally made it home with one stop for food and diaper change. It was 5 o’clock in the morning. Soon, the sun would be up. We brought our exhausted kids in and tucked them to bed. I warmed up their milk while Ian brought our suitcases in and parked them by the door. I gave the kids their milk and we kissed them goodnight and told them how we appreciated them and was glad with their cooperation.
I drank a full glass of water. My head was still aching, but my heart’s full of joy. Our nightmare experience turned into a blessing after all.
“Your reality is as you perceive it to be. So, it is true, that by altering this perception we can alter our reality.” – William Constantine