Welcome to Day 1 of Janet and Randy's Kauai Adventure 2016
Thursday, October 13, 2016
Our flight to Vancouver wasn't until 1:15pm, so we were able to take our time getting up and getting ready. Randy's parents had offered to drive us to the airport, but they had some luncheon to attend and ended up picking us up earlier than normal - at 10:00am (actually it was 9:50). On the way to the airport, we dropped off Matsu at the kitty kennel and were at the airport around 10:45am.
We had a bag to check in, and there was no line at the priority check-in, so we were able to quickly do that. We were just wandering away from the check-in counters when one of the Air Canada concierges (Sandy) came rushing up to us. The Edmonton concierges all knew that we were going to Hawaii and that we were celebrating Randy's 50th birthday. Sandy quickly called the other concierge (Akemi) and she came out with a gift for Randy.
The gift was a nice card (signed by all the Edmonton concierges), a Starbucks gift card, and a bottle of 50 SPF sunscreen with 'Happy Birthday' and a 'UB' written on it next to the the 50. Ha! UB50 ! Priceless ! That was so nice of them. Sandy was concerned that we had already checked our bag as the sunscreen was too big to take through security. So, Akemi ended up going down to the baggage area, finding our bag and putting it into one of the outside pockets. Sandy was wondering why we were at the airport so early (as Randy normally times his arrival to spend the least amount at the airport). We explained that Randy's parents has a luncheon to go to and wanted to get there for when the doors opened at 11:00 (even though I believe the lunch actually didn't start until noon). That's seniors for you. The early arrival did put a bit of a kink into the concierges' plans, but in the end it worked out.
After chatting with Sandy for a bit longer, we headed through security and went to the Maple Leaf Lounge to have some food (soup and salad). One of the gals that worked in the lounge came up to chat with us as she hadn't seen us in a while. We had told her how we were flying to Maui, and after she left, some older ladies sitting near us mentioned that they were heading to Maui as well. Then they spent the next 15 minutes telling me all about their previous trips to Hawaii. They were really nice, but I had to finally excuse myself to go pee. I tuned out and read the newspaper. Shortly afterwards, since we had lots of time, we went and wandered through some of the airport shops.
Soon it was time to board the plane, and we ended up sitting right across the aisle from the ladies we had been chatting with. They joked that they were stalking us. The flight to Vancouver was uneventful. We were served a snack consisting of seared tuna on potato salad. It was okay, but nothing overly exciting. I indicated to Janet that the seats we had on our YVR flight will likely be much better than the ones going across to Maui.
Once in Vancouver, we had over 3 hours until our next flight. So, we decided to leave the secured area and go check out the new Air Canada concierge office that is next to the priority check-in. Steve was the concierge on duty when we arrived, and he knows Randy quite well. We sat and had a nice chat with him for a while until he was replaced by Nathalie. Then we chatted with Nathalie until some other passengers came into the office and needed assistance.
We then headed to the gates to go through US customs. In Vancouver, they don't have a dedicated Nexus security line like they do in Edmonton. There is a separate line which allows you to bypass the regular line, but then you are just fed in to the individual security lines used by everyone else. Of course, we ended up behind a family that had literally no clue what they were doing. They had to dig through their luggage to get their boarding passes out again, tried to take a baby in a stroller through the metal detector, etc. Sigh. This all seemed very typical of what I would see when going thru the US pre-clearance in YVR. But, we finally got through security, and then it was on to US customs. That went smoothly - although the customs officer noticed on our identification that I was older than Randy. He made a comment about Randy being with an 'older' woman. So, I said 'Ya, I'm a cougar'. The customs officer actually found that funny (most of them don't have much of a sense of humour). I was wondering where the customs agent was going with this, because they usually don't say a word to me.
We went to the Maple Leaf Lounge and hung out having some alcoholic beverages, then headed down to the gate with plenty of time to spare. We ran into the ladies we saw in Edmonton again. I was starting to think that they definitely were stalking us. We wanted to get to the gate early so that we could be one of the first people on and find a spot for our carry on bags. There were announcements that the flight was completely full - even in the Premium Rouge section (where we were sitting). We ended up being the first people to board, and found spots for our bags (yay). The 767s don't have the best overhead bins, so space is very limited.
Air Canada Rouge is the discount carrier arm of Air Canada. The Rouge planes do not have any seatback entertainment systems. Instead, they have a system that streams entertainment onto your own tablet, or you can rent a pre-loaded iPad for $10. In Premium Rouge, we were given tablets for free (so generous !). The backs of the seats have these fabric slots for you to hang your tablet. These work ok - but during turbulence or movement from the passenger in front of you - the tablet will swing back and forth (need a gravol pill just for the motion of the swinging tablet). The seats were okay - but I must admit that they did have decent legroom. I was able to squeeze out from the window seat without Randy having to get up - so that's not too bad. Not as good as the pods on the 767's that Air Canada used to fly to Hawaii, but I guess they will do. If you want get there, there aren't many other options for style.
Once everyone was boarded, we pushed back from the gate and sat on the tarmac while the flight attendants did the safety demonstration. Then immediately after that, the captain came on the intercom to say that there was a passenger that did not end up boarding the plane and they had to pull back to the gate to take their bag off. Considering the flight was completely full, you would've thought that someone would've noticed that there was a person missing before we pushed back from the gate. Because of this, our departure was delayed by an hour. Welcome to Rouge !
We finally got in the air, and we had some turbulence for the first part of the flight. Finally we got into some smoother air, and the food/drink service finally started after over an hour (an hour 15 to be exact, with the number and volume of screaming and crying children the drink cart was a welcome sight). When we boarded the plane, Randy and I ended up switching seats (I took his, and he took mine). The flight attendant did come over to our row first to take food orders, but since I was sitting in Randy's seat, she thought that I was the Super Elite million-miler, so she took my order and then walked away. Randy had to flag her down to come back to take HIS order as well. She admitted that she was a little confused when she saw me sitting in the seat - but apparently she didn't think (didn't think, very operative words) that it might be wise to actually confirm who she was talking to. Oh well, we both got the meals that we wanted. (there was only a choice of chicken or mushroom ravioli).
The drink service started in the other aisle, and since they were serving both the window seats and the middle seats, it took a long time. They finally made it to our seats, so we ended up ordering 2 drinks. We had brought our own vitamin water on the plane, so just got 2 bottles of vodka each (as we didn't know when they would make it back). A while later (drinks now consumed and thirst back upon us...), the meal arrived, and it was actually better than I thought it would be. It wasn't amazing, but it wasn't awful either. We had some more drinks during the flight and just watched movies until we arrived in Maui.
Once off the plane, Randy went to get the rental car, and I went to get our checked bag. There were 5 luggage carousels, but none of them listed the Rouge flight and even the monitor showing all the flights didn't have the Rouge flight on it either (apparently that's a service that Rouge doesn't pay for) . So, I ended up wandering from carousel to carousel - looking at the tags on the bags coming out to see what flight they were for. To add to the confusion, a Westjet flight had also just come in from Vancouver, and for some reason the luggage for this flight was coming out on TWO carousels. WTF. Finally I found the carousel with the Rouge luggage and happened upon our bag right away. I had gotten on the bus to go to the Rental Car area, and upon arrival I was greeted and they had my car ready for me. Got in, made the quick but very confusing drive back to the terminal - as there was plenty of construction detours), and waited. Randy was already waiting for me at the curb with the rental car, so I hopped in and we headed to the hotel.
Took us about half an hour to get to the hotel. We were checked in quickly and in our room at about 11:00pm. Since it felt like 3:00am to us, we unpacked just enough to brush our teeth and then hit the bed.
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