Survival tips for the wary flyer

Lesson learned. Take along plenty of munchies

Looking back, winter has a lot to recommend it: no dandelions to mow; no firewood to stack; no family reunions and consequently no plane trips.

Time spent with family is enjoyable, but getting to and fro by air is not my favourite pastime.

Especially with the rash of passengers being poorly treated by airlines recently, I don’t relish joining the ranks of hassled flyers.

When I learn of families being stuck overnight in a strange airport after the airline refused to let a little kid accompany his parents; a couple stuck in Portugal at the end of a five week vacation forced to pay for new, replacement tickets at three times the cost of their original airfare … Who can look forward to possible treatment like that?

Parliament introduced last week a travellers’ bill of rights, but it isn’t expected to become law until some time in 2018, too late to assure a smooth trip to this year’s reunion.

Travel for my trip involves changing flights in Vancouver before going on to Edmonton. That’s two chances to be bumped.

If that happens it would blight my trip, no doubt, and could cause me to miss part of the reunion. No amount of dollar compensation by the airline would make up for missing a day or more of the get-together.

The risk of airline problems is something no one can predict or guard against.

But there’s much more for me to worry about, beginning with taking along everything I need including medications.

At our age, when my siblings and I sit down at the breakfast table we spend minutes counting out our various coloured pills, from peach, pink, or blue Coumadin of varying strengths for thinning our blood and avoiding clots, to orange for high blood pressure, to insulin injections for diabetes.

Little kids ask why we’re not sharing our Smarties.

I must remember to take along a list of phone numbers and email addresses, though I rarely phone home. Once I emailed.

I try to leave my home and dogs in good hands and trust everything to go well until I return.

Tucked into my top dresser drawer is a list of items I found necessary on former trips, from toiletries and oddments like nail file and clippers, to clothing categories.

On former trips I’ve taken far more clothing than I ever needed resulting in an overstuffed bag that resisted fitting under the seat in front. I like to avoid waiting at baggage carousels if possible.

This year’s unpredictable weather has me confounded about what to take – a warm jacket or a couple of tops that I can layer if the day turns cold.

My toughest decision involves what reading or writing materials to take along. Paper in any form is heavy, and once at the reunion venue, rarely is there time to use either; visiting is the purpose of the trip.

But I do like to journal for a reliable reminder of the high – and any low – points of the occasion.

Always I go fortified by munchies. On a trip several summers ago we were held on the Calgary runway unable to disembark for the better part of an hour during a lightning storm.

Not only did the pounding rain chill the cabin making me happy I wore a warm jacket.

Suppertime was creeping closer. We were served only tiny bags of corn chips, fewer calories than half a slice of bread.

My tote bag held almonds, figs and cheese, enough to share with my seatmate.

Claudette Sandecki packs her bags from her home in Thornhill, B.C.

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