Tag Archives: travel

Dear United Airlines, Stop Sucking.

I love travelling. I love navigating new airports, and looking at all the regional related art exhibits and restaurants packed into said airports. I love making sure my carry on luggage is packed like a boss with all the entertainment, snacks and emergency items I could need. I like being on the road and I like being in the hustle and bustle.

And I do it. A lot.

So I have some experience interacting with many different airlines, their staff, planes, amenities etc. Recently, when I had the opportunity for myself and my husband to go back to the Motherland, I tried 2 new airlines. I flew up with American Airlines and had a rather pleasant experience with both the airports and the airline.

My husband came up to Canada a few weeks after I did and so I booked him with Delta. He then had the first pleasant experience with an airline that he has ever had. He was upgraded for more leg room, which for a guy as tall as he is, meant the world in the way of comfort and accessibility. He had no issues whatsoever.

For our return flight, which we took together, I was forced for availability sake to book with United. I had done everything in my power not to book with United. Ever. Again. Why you may ask? Well, it starts out with them over using code-share flights and the staff at the airports bouncing you back from kiosk to teller, and NOT knowing who to send you to. The last time I had went with United,  I was bounced back from Air Canada to United 4 times before someone finally checked me in. Not only is it frustrating, but even more so that the staff are always rude about it.

Then there is the issue of responsibility. Last time I flew with United I went from Washington to Montreal to Calgary. I was to pick up my luggage in Montreal and recheck it. It never showed up. How does one go about losing luggage on the first flight? I have no idea, but United managed that one. I just shrugged it off and waited in the line before customs for missing baggage. Stuff happens, right? It was a good thing I booked my connecting flight with a few hours buffer. Apparently half of the planes luggage did not show, so I was not the only one. After about an hour, I was filling out my paperwork and watching the lady put the information I had just clearly and concisely wrote out for her into the computer. Later on I would find out she mistyped half my information.

When I landed in Calgary (an hour late no less) my baggage was still missing. The United site said the flight was on time, so my poor parents were at the airport waiting for me until midnight. Tired and a little miffed at the airline for not updating because you know parking DOES cost money. A delightful, and I use that word sarcastically, United employee told us that we would have to file our paperwork with Air Canada as it was a codeshare flight. So we travelled to the other end of the airport only to be told we would in fact, have to talk to United about our missing luggage. So back across the airport we go to track down a United employee which is like a game of Where’s Waldo vs Carmen Sandiego. The United employee was extremely rude, stating that we were not supposed to file any paperwork in Montreal, even thought that is what the airline told me to do in order to clear customs. He read the information that was input in Montreal and this is when I found out the girl behind the counter had put in all my information wrong. He then told us that we would have to go across the airport to get it changed at a different area. After getting it all figured out, I was told when my luggage came in they would call me, and they gave me my missing bag claim number just in case.
The next day I called United to check if my information had in fact been changed, and to see if there was any update on my bag. Lo and behold my information was still incorrect. And my bag was somewhere in Chicago. This went on for 2 days until finally at 8 pm, after I contacted them yet again, a United employee told me my bag would be delivered after midnight that night. Now, that is a rather curious delivery time. I reiterated this to the person on the phone and no, I heard correctly, after midnight. Not even “in between midnight and 3 am”. Just sometime after midnight. I waited up until 4 am and my bag delivery was a no-show. SURPRISE!
The next day without my luggage I called United Airlines back. This is where it gets sketch show. United claimed I never flew with them. Funny,  I had a $1300 ticket in my hand that said otherwise. Needless to say that was a stressful conversation that left a mark on my forehead from so many epic Picard facepalms.

After 4 days I finally got my luggage.

My flight home that time was fun, too. Again it started with checking in. Being told to go one place, then another then being yelled at by the lady at the counter for being in the wrong place (to be fair, she was mad that her fellow employee kept sending her people who shouldn’t be there). United had booked me with 45 minutes to spare on a connecting flight which I had to clear customs and security with. I made it with 10 minutes to spare from boarding time, and was greeted by a disgruntled United employee that told me I was late and that they had been paging me. Then she wouldn’t let me on until seeing my marriage certificate. Funny, US Customs and Border never asked to see it, but a United Airlines employee who scans tickets wanted to see it. I would like to once be greeted cheerfully by a United employee. I don’t know why their entire staff is so well versed in miserable..ness. West Jet employees always have a smile on their faces. Just saying.

Anyways, because of all the previously mentioned (and unmentioned) fiascos I’ve experienced with United I wanted to avoid them this time around. Alas, due to availability restrictions I HAD to fly with them. So I crossed my fingers and hoped everything would go okay on my husband and my return flight home. Now, this is partly my fault. I have a bunch of important, meaningful, breakable collectables. I figured I would get them out of my parents storage and back into my home this visit. I knew from previous flights that you can request a FRAGILE tag at airports. You all see where this is going. I am dumb, I know. I shouldn’t have ever trusted United airlines with my breakables. In fact, at this point I know I should just never trust United Airlines with anything.

Again, checking in. We were told to check in online at home. So I spent 45 minutes inputting all my information only to be told check in cannot be completed because our information needs to be looked over by a United employee. Cool beans. I can see that, since I have a green card. When we arrived at the airport we were told not to speak to an agent, rather go to the dreaded kiosk. Can you guess what happened from there? If you guessed it didn’t work and put us behind 30 minutes while we waited for an employee who kept walking by us saying “just a minute” then you guessed right! Then our luggage bags didn’t print. Of course. So we waited again for her while she manually printed them at the till. Well, it’s almost as if all of that could have been avoided if they would have let me go to the counter to begin with, as she had to do it twice to complete our check in anyways. I asked her for a FRAGILE tag and she laughed and said “We don’t have them, and you won’t need them as long as you wrapped your stuff. You’ve got a good suitcase”. Note, that I used the hard shell suitcase that was given to my parents by an airline for completely destroying their other suitcase.

Lo and behold.

Sad faces. All around. Now I fully accept I am half at fault for trusting an airline with my precious breakables. (Just for reference, I’ve moved 7 times and I know how to wrap breakables like a baus. Those things have been with me since I was born and have moved with me every single time.) I should have mailed them for the 90$ I spent in luggage. I probably would have half the stuff broken with a mailing company versus an airline. I’m silly pants. But why, United? Why don’t you have fragile tags? Why don’t you take responsibility for any of your short comings? Why don’t you have employees that can muster a simple greeting and a smile? Why must you make my future baby-mes go without milk in their tea? Now since I only have one glass,  I can only have sherry during the Olympics by myself instead of with a friend. Why must you force me to drink alone, United?!

In all seriousness, it sucks. It sucks and I’m sure it might have happened with another airline even if I had fragile tags considering how rough and tumble luggage handlers are. It’s my fault for trying to luggage carry breakables. But it doesn’t help my impression of United when stacked onto all the other problems I’ve had with them. My flight with AA was actually made by spending a little bit more money, and flying 3 extra hours further JUST to avoid United.

So that my friends, is why this Canuckasaurusrex will avoid United Airlines at all costs.

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A Fondue Farewell

WARNING: Long read of memories ahead!

It hasn’t been much of a secret that I was very depressed and lonely my first year in the USA. I had a very rough time meeting like-minded people down here. I tried so many different things and ways to meet friends, thinking it wasn’t going to get better if I just sat around moping. I was never wildly popular growing up, but I always had that group of core friends to geek out with, go for coffee or just be in each others presence. Quality over quantity. Right before I left though, quantity and quality evened out.. I found myself in the middle of a huge group of awesome people who, little did I know in a few years time I’d be looking at in my rearview mirror as I was south bound to start my married life with an American man.

A few years ago I developed tight bonds with some real awesome chicks. Crude, lude and tattooed. We’d have pin-up photo shoots which eventually lead to 5 years strong of doing calendars. Wine, Top model, Stitch n’ Bitches… the list goes on. It made me realize as a woman, having close bonds with other women in your life was extremely important. I was the type of girl who had mostly guy friends. I don’t like drama or catty behaviour, and more often than not while trying to befriend a female I noticed two or more faces. These girls I found myself quickly becoming friends with felt like a God send to me. All the people I was close to, who lifted my spirits and enriched my life were stripped away as mile by mile I drove away. It’s never the same after you move, no matter how hard you try. I have hardly talked to any of my friends from back home for whatever circumstances.  I recognized it was a new chapter in my life and it was time to get out and try to make friends in my new home.

Easier said than done. The more I tried the more defeated I felt. I tried hanging out at coffee shops, striking up conversations with people, going to events around town etc. I eventually joined Meetup.com and I found I was faced with cliquey, small town females who wanted nothing to do with me or my awesome. I had been denied friendship with one click of a button before they had ever even met me. I had almost thrown in the towel. All the groups are very specific. “Strong , black females”, “Ladies Night Out – must be 30 or older to join!” and then a metric boatload of swingers groups….Did I mention the South has a very oddly high number of swingers? I didn’t seem to fit anywhere as a 22-year-old newly wed. I  kept searching and eventually found a few awesome people through a photography meetup. That goes to show you never give up. There is one person in particular I want to talk about tonight, though.

Her name is Sarah. We met going to a night photography meetup. We chatted a bit during the meetup but we had our cameras glued to our faces for the most part. After the meet a group of us decided to go grab a couple of beers at an irish pub downtown. When I say downtown I mean the four blocks of the “city” that actually have sidewalks… (insert wah I miss city life here). We ordered pints of Smithwicks and enjoyed the conversation of our fellow photogs. I spent the few dollars I had been saving up just to go out and meet friends with. Matthew and I were so poor at the time that meeting people wasn’t easy. Hanging out generally costs $ when you don’t know the person well enough to just take a walk or hang at their house. My green card was in the middle of being processed so I was not able to work yet and so I  took 5$ out of our living money to go out and meet some new people. Looking back it was one of the best 5 bucks I’ve ever spent! I absolutely loved Sarah the first day we met. Every time I opened my mouth she laughed at whatever I said. To the point where I actually thought “she must be drunk, because I’m not that funny”.  At the end of this night I remember wishing Sarah and I could hang out more. Eventually we found each other on facebook, which I was hesitant to add her on. I was worried she would see the crude jokes I post to my friends, the weird thoughts that go through my head, down to my fingers and into a status update and pish posh at me. Normally I don’t give flying you-know-whats to people liking or disliking me, but Sarah was different. I would creep her page and respond to her updates and post on her photos as if I’d known her for ages. Later I found out she would do the same to me, and little did we know we were both tip toeing over each other hoping the other one didn’t think we were “too weird”.

It took 3 months for Sarah and I to hang out after that again. Our schedules kept conflicting, and I needed the time to save some money for us to go out for a couple of drinks. Eventually one weekend in September we finally locked down a date to have a girls night. I was so nervous I felt as if I was going on a date for the first time. Matthew can attest to me saying things like, “what if she thinks I’m too weird?” and “she is so funny and pretty and creative and oh God oh God she is going to hate me and never speak to me again after we hang out”. This coming from me is REALLY strange, because like I said, I don’t much care what others think of me. I think it was due to the fact that I had just spent a year in solitude other than my husband and really needed a close female friend again. You have to understand – I wasn’t able to work yet or even really leave my house. We live in an area that is just off a major highway.. no sidewalks or pedestrian crossways. If I wanted to leave the house while the husband was at work, it was hold your breath and run across the lanes of traffic off the interstate. There was one instance where I did this and my jacket was clipped by a semi truck – and that was the last time I tried. I was dying for some human interaction that was outside of doing the dishes and having the tv on for company. Most won’t understand this, but that night in September changed my life down here.

Sarah and I began the day with a photography scavenger hunt that I was hosting. It was a lot of fun, and we got some great photos. After that was over we continued our journey in “downtown” at a local pub. We sat in the back corner of the Irish pub we had first met at and ordered a couple of drinks and chatted. We surprised each other by how much we opened up about what seemed to be our entire life history. And this was before we had even began drinking 😉 It had honestly felt as if we had known each other for years and were reuniting. Being the poor females we were, we went searching for some better drink deals at a different pub a couple blocks away. One that didn’t serve ridiculously expensive house wine in a teeny tiny sherry glass. Besides which at that point the entire pub now knew our life history as well… we are LOUD. Onwards we went to a pub a couple blocks away. We sat in the upstairs part of the bar and shared a plate of sweet potato fries which, yes, we made abundantly clear to the entire bar that we love…(“OMG YOU LOVE SWEET POTATO FRIES? MEEEEEEEEE TOOOOOOOOOOOO *SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEL*) and some dollar cans of PBR. We opened up to each other about boy things, life things, EVERY THINGS. We both continuously stated that we couldn’t believe how much we both felt as if we had not only known the other one for years, but how happy we were to have found each other. Little did I know Sarah was in almost the same boat as I was. She moved back to Virginia a year ago and was feeling pretty lonely herself. This felt like a major blessing.

In this pub there were two old men that shared a very striking resemblance to Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys. They had overheard Sarah say that she wanted to order two special girly drinks to celebrate our new-found friendship and decided they would take it upon themselves to pay for them. This lead to us spending the next 45 minutes hearing about the civil war and getting stared at up and down. That meant our night at that pub ended on a hilarious note that we will always remember – but off to the next pub we went! We finally ended up in a very quiet location (not for long har har har) and shared a couple more glasses of wine and stories. We found out that we were quite literally versions of each other. We loudly made meeping noises at people and laughed through to closing time in which I met her little brother as he came to pick us up. We just couldn’t end the night. The three of us continued on to her place and chatted through the night until Matthew came to pick me up – then we chatted some more. Matthew was finally able to meet the famous Sarah I had been talking about. He was shocked to see how much we acted as if we had been friends forever, hugging and laughing and regaling our inside jokes to him. The first thing he said when we got in the car and started home was “Oh my God, there is a second you out there”.

This blog post might not be as entertaining to some as it is to me, remembering the night that quite literally changed my life down here. I want to make it clear how much my friendship with Sarah means to me. Not because she was my beacon in a dark place, but because she truly is a unique person that is infectious to be around. She is intelligent, creative and extremely talented. She is a solid and best friend who when upon finding out I was having a bad day, drove to me just to give me a hug. She is one of the few people I can stand to chat with on the phone, we can hang out and just say nothing to each other while editing photos. We haven’t been able to hang out as much as I’d like, but we have made some hilarious memories every time we do (see: swingers trying to pick Sarah up at the Rockabilly Rumble, girl who thinks Sarah needs to order decency from a waiter and thinks I eat people because I’m Canadian, SEPIAAAA…. this list could quite literally keep going). Sarah has made a permanent home in my heart as a best and true friend.

One more thing you should know about Sarah and I is that we both have gypsy hearts. This leads to much excitement in our lives, but also much heartbreak. Not being able to stay happy in one place for a long time. Right now I have the beat in my heart to leave on the open road and say goodbye to this backwoods town but I cannot. I have chosen my path as a wife and need to accept that and do what is best for both me and my husband. I can no longer pack up and go with the wind like I once had been able to. Sarah had been hearing that beat for a while now and it was with a heavy heart that I needed to say goodbye to her as she made her journey across the country last week. She is leaving for half a year to follow her true passion, skiing and photography. She is amazingly talented and has even been featured on the cover or TrueSkiier magazine. She will be returning in the spring, but like I said, we have gypsy hearts so I don’t fault her if plans change. For all I know her heart could lead her someplace else. I am sad about this, but perfectly okay with as long as I know she is happy and living life to the fullest. Besides which, we can always revert back to our old friendship ways and creep one another on facebook 😉

Before Sarah left I put together a girly night at my place as a goodbye for her. Unfortunately she had a severe flu that day but powered through and came over anyway. I felt horrible for her as she was clearly writhing in pain on my couch just to have this last hurrah. It was the type of flu where you are hot and cold at the same time and the entirety of your body is in pain. We watched Top Model and made fun of it (“I am Tookie”….wtf Tyra?), Tosh.0 and the Victoria Secret Fashion show all while enjoying the GIRLIEST appetizers ever. I made CUPCAKE FONDUE! I had been wanting to try this for a while and this goodbye mini party seemed to be the perfect time! Unfortunately I had no idea Sarah was sick until about an hour before she was to arrive, so everything was already all systems go with this project.

Poor Sarah could only eat a tiny cupcake before feeling like death had rolled her up in kale and slow roasted her. So I had ALL OF THE CUPPIN CAKES TO EAT. Which I enjoyed *fat girl confessions*. However Miss Sarah was kind enough to help me demonstrate the joys of girly cupcake fondue for the camera.

For Cupcake Fondue you will need:

– a batch of your favourite cupcakes, mini style. I made mini vanilli cupcakes
– 3 cups icing sugar
– 1/3rd cup milk
-2 tbsp light corn syrup
-all the sprinkles that fulfill your girly needs

You can use whatever recipe you want to the cupcakes and the icing. The icing I love working with because it tastes so great and has the best consistency is that off www.pintsizesocial.com

Make your icing by combining the icing sugar, milk and corn syrup and mix it all together with a fork or whisk. There is no need to place a flame under this like normal fondue, but you can if that effect is what you are going for.

After all that reading I’m sure you’d like to look at some photos now.

Mountain of Cuppin’cakes and individual icing cups

Sprinkles, sprinkles, sprinkles.

Le Dippin’ing

Oh, Miss Sarah, what is that you have there? strategically placed finger?

I will miss you kindred-gypsy-spirit-sarah-face and just you wait until I become skinnier than you – betchhhh!

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