In most airlines, crew have the option of "bidding" for particular flights that they'd like to operate. Whether you will ever find said flights on your roster is dependant on scheduling requirements and seniority, or so we are told. When I first switched to the A380 fleet, I did it with one destination in mind: Toronto. After a year away from home I knew that the only way to maintain my sanity would be to have the ability to occasionally fly to my home country.
I'd heard notorious things about the flight, and therefore assumed that I stood a good chance of being rostered for it most months. After all, I was getting high on the economy class seniority list, and who else would be bidding for it?!
The first month on the new fleet, I eagerly checked my roster. I had plans to meet Ryan in Toronto and we'd have a fabulously romantic weekend together. Life would be great once again. You can imagine my dismay when schedule day came along and there was no "YYZ" in store for me. I shrugged it off (okay, I whined for the duration of the month) and bid for the next month, hoping for better results. No such luck. I bid every month, sadly discovering the horrible truth that I may never make it to Toronto. November rolled around and since I was going home for a vacation anyways, I didn't see the sense in bidding to go to Canada. So what happens? They give me a 3 day layover in Toronto, obviously. Just my luck. Granted, I had an amazing time and I was thankful for the trip, but since it was only 2 weeks before going home, Ryan and I decided that it was best to save the money and just reunite later that month. In December, I bid for Christmas in Toronto. I was given 5 days off instead... days that were spent miserably in Dubai since everyone else I knew was flying. Frustrated, I gave up bidding in February. It clearly wasn't working for me and only led to greater disappointment. You can probably guess what happened. Yeah, that's right... they sent me to Toronto!! It was as though they purposely denied me the trip when I'd asked for it. I decided to test my newfound theory by not bidding the following month. Sure enough, I found yet another Canadian trip on my roster! The moral of the story: Bidding does NOT work!
Anyways, now that I've spent a great deal of time (I'm really not that bitter, might I add) sidetracking from the original intent of my blog post... on to my latest trip to Toronto!
Unlike my previous weekend layovers, this happened to be a Wednesday flight. The downside to weekdays is that the layover is 2 days as opposed to 3 on the weekends, but regardless it's still our longest layover on the 380. Ryan had come to visit the month prior, so understandably he wouldn't be able to make it this time around. I proceeded to make plans with my Grandma, who lives an hour outside of the city.
The flight over was torturous. The previous ones had been busy, but nothing in comparison. Even the seniors were shocked at the chaos. For 14 hours, it was non-stop. People begged for food and water as though they'd been on a deserted island for months. It did get a bit overwhelming at times, but nothing we couldn't handle. We've really seen it all in this airline. I kept optimistic, reassuring the several brand new crew members that the layover would make it worth it. I secretly hoped that I wasn't wrong. We landed and kicked off (okay, politely said goodbye to) the crazy passengers after an exhausting trip. I was relieved to be back in the cool fresh air. I love Canada!! Back at the hotel the crew made plans for dinner, but I had my own plans. It was Rrroll up the Rim time at Tim Horton's... for you Canadian readers, that's all I need to say. For the rest of you, just know that it's kind of a big deal for us obsessed coffee loving Canucks. I dined on a nice warm bowl of chilli with a large French Vanilla cappuccino. I figured that buying a larger size would increase my chances of winning a prize, but I was wrong and rolled up the rim to a sad "Please Play Again". I was discouraged, but vowed to play again throughout my layover. The time change was taking it's toll on me and I was feeling extremely sleepy despite my large coffee. I returned to the warmth of my room where I spoke to Ryan on the phone until I was no longer capable of making basic conversation. After we'd hung up, I fell asleep in minutes, waking up at 5 am to start a brand new day! After a shower it was back to Timmy's, of course. Another coffee and a breakfast wrap, and I was set!! I packed my small bag and set off for the train station... I was going to visit my grandparents and a few other family members! I successfully found the right train, boarded, and sat looking out the window. I remember riding that train as a little girl and I was almost just as excited 20 years later. I managed to get off at the correct station and there was my grandma, standing waiting for me!! I ran to hug her, happy to be able to visit again. We drove to her house, via the grocery store where I stocked up on a few Canadian essentials... Minute Rice & Mrs. Dash.
After arriving at her house my Great Grandma called and unfortunately let us know that she wasn't feeling well. I came along for the ride to the doctor's office and although it wasn't the best of circumstances, it was nice to see my Great "Grams" again. Once she was back home we ventured out to the Hamilton airport, where I was able to indulge in my nerdiness at the Warplane Museum. There were so many planes from different eras, and I happily wandered taking photos and asking the overly helpful volunteers questions. We took a break to eat lunch in the restaurant with view of the sleepy tarmac. I'm so used to living in Dubai and traveling to major airports that such a quiet one struck me as fascinating. In the gift shop I grabbed a cute pilot rubber ducky to add to my collection, and we headed on our way. We stopped to visit Sheri, who is dating my Uncle Troy and has been for what seems like forever and really should just marry him already... but we can't seem to convince them. She gave us a tour of her work and then it was time to go back to the grandparent's house to relax for awhile. After she was finished at work, Sheri picked us up and brought us to her house where a delicious dinner courtesy of my uncle awaited us. I was in food Heaven.... steak, chicken, salmon.. all fresh and home cooked and delicious. Also joining us for dinner was my cousin Colton and underneath our feet was Stella, the baby of the family.... a crazy, cuddly hyperactive boxer. I loved her, and after dinner we cuddled on the couch as I struggled to stay awake. Jet lag had got the best of me again. I barely had the energy to wash my face and brush my teeth before bed, but somehow I managed.
The next morning I was up early to get ready to catch the train back to the city. We made a pit stop at the very first Tim Horton's store EVER, where I took photos despite having taken many of the exact same sign over the years. Once again, I was tremendously disappointed to find that I had not won a new car. We reached the train station and as it pulled away from the station I waved goodbye to my grandparents, just like a cliche movie scene.
A guy around my age sat next to me and proceeded to tell me about his life and his girlfriend and 2 year old daughter until we reached Toronto. I dropped off my things in the hotel room and quickly ventured back out, determined to make the most of the little time I had left in the city. I went to St Lawrence Market, where I picked up yummy fresh berries and cupcake baking essentials, since I've talked about making cupcakes since I moved to Dubai and have yet to do so. After I'd left the market I found a grocery store. I nostalgically wandered the aisles, remembering the days when delicious and healthy food was so readily available. I grabbed a few treats snacks for the flight back to Dubai. I knew that I should probably get some sleep before my flight, but instead I decided to go to Eaton Centre. I found so many great things that I felt the need to own, but managed to convince myself to leave most of them on the shelves due to lack of suitcase space. I reluctantly wandered back to the hotel, grabbing lunch from a salad bar at another grocery store on the way. I couldn't sleep. I tossed and turned, thinking about how I really shouldn't be awake, which of course kept me awake from the stress of the situation. Eventually, I managed to catch 2 hours of rest before it was time to go back to the airport. After my wake up call I rushed to Tim Horton's for one final coffee. This was it, this was the winning cup! I was convinced, but apparently that didn't matter. Sad to leave, I headed to the lobby. I secretly had hoped for a miraculous flight cancellation, but that is just not my luck. We made the long journey back to Dubai, complete with a few crazy passengers but overall a massive improvement from the outbound sector! I'd normally be extremely sad to leave my country, but fortunately I'll be back on the 18th for 2 whole weeks! It's a great Canadian month for me!!